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Yusuf (as)

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:25 AM

Yusuf (AS) 1:

In the Name of Allah (SWT), the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Peace and blessings be upon our master, the most noble Prophet Muhammad (SAWS[1]). We praise Allah (SWT), thank Him, seek His help, guidance and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah (SWT) from the evil in our souls and the sinfulness of our deeds, "He whom Allah guides, he is the rightly-guided; but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no guiding advocate.”

Today, we shall talk about the story of Prophet Yusuf (AS), as related in the Holy Qur’an. However, we should all keep in mind that every word in the Qur’an is meant for us and that the Qur’an is but the cure of our hearts. If you read Surat Yusuf, you will surely find one of the problems you are facing lying there between its lines. Hence, we have to read this Surah with the intention that it is a cure for our souls. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And We are sending down, of the Qur’an, that which is a cure and a mercy to the believers.” (TMQ, 17:82)[2]. Thus, the Qur’an cures one from his worries, vanity, and hardheartedness.

The word 'cure' was mentioned only twice in the Holy Qur’an; when talking about honey and when talking about the Qur’an. Honey cures body's diseases whereas the Qur’an cures heart's diseases. Thus, it should be clear for all of us that we will not find the cure of our hearts anywhere else except in the Qur’an. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “… And We have been sending down on you the Book as an evident (exposition) of everything, and as a guidance, and a mercy, and as good tidings to Muslims (i.e., those who surrender to Allah).” (TMQ, 16:89). I once visited a man and talked to him about some problems I was facing at that time. When I asked him for a solution, he just stretched his arm, got the Holy Qur’an, and went on skimming through its Ayahs. Then he stopped at a particular Ayah and said, “I think the solution of your problem lies in this Ayah.” Surat Yusuf is definitely one of the best heart-curing Surahs in the Qur'an.

Surat Yusuf was revealed in Makkah, and before it was Surat Hud. It was revealed in ‘the year of sadness’ after the death of Abu-Taleb (RA) and Lady Khadijah and after the Prophet (SAWS) had been exposed to severe harm and conspiracies. It was sent to him as a consoling message; for, like him, Yusuf (AS) had been wronged by his family members, driven away from his country, and eventually blessed by victory from Allah (SWT). Thus, this Surah was revealed to comfort the Prophet (SAWS) and all the believers facing any calamities until the Day of Judgment. Surat Yusuf relieves anyone who is sad. It is really the Surah of the sad and miserable, the lonely, and the wronged ones. It is said that Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA), out of his great interaction with this particular Surah, used to cry whenever he read it.

Today we shall discuss five Ayahs only, but let us agree together that we shall memorize the whole Surah, so that by the time we finish discussing the story, we will have finished memorizing the Surah and applied all what is mentioned in it. Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) spent three years memorizing Surat al-Baqara and in some narrations a whole year. The reason behind this is that he never moved on from one Ayah to the next unless he applied all the teachings given in the first one. Thus, he learnt and applied. Let us agree then on applying what we learn and memorize.

Despite all the afflictions mentioned in Surat Yusuf, it provides relief and content to those who read it and despite knowing how it ends, we never feel bored reading it over and over. Normally, if we watch a movie more than once, we get bored. However, the case differs with Surat Yusuf which we read hundreds of times and never feel bored. This is one of the miracles of the Holy Qur’an. Repetition in songs, movies, and books cause boredom, but the Qur’an does not.

In Surat Yusuf, many incidents do not accord with logic as we, human beings, perceive it. The strong fatherly love that Yusuf (AS) enjoyed caused his brothers’ extreme hatred. He was thrown into the well, which we would consider a bad turn of events. However, this led to his being taken to Egypt. There he was imprisoned; yet, that which we consider a disaster caused him to hold a high position in Egypt. Thus, we have to learn to trust in Allah (SWT). This special meaning will be stressed on as we proceed in the story.

Moreover, Surat Yusuf is full of afflictions and trials like:

1. Being envied by his brothers.
2. Parting with his family.
3. Being thrown into the well and separating from his father.
4. Being enslaved.
5. Being subjected to the lust and temptation of the ladies of the country.
6. Being imprisoned.
7. Being accused of a moral crime.
8. Being afflicted by wealth and welfare.
9. The ordeal of forgiveness.
10. Moving from one ordeal to the other unexpectedly which might cause psychological disturbance to many people (for example the quick transfer from enjoying his father’s love to being thrown into the well).

Later on, we will tackle all the afflictions with which he was stricken in detail, but for now, let us compare between these afflictions and the ones you have faced all through your life. If you were put in the same situation as Prophet Yusuf (AS), you would probably collapse, and might not be able to go on with your life. If you had to face the ordeals he faced, you might be filled with a great desire for vengeance, and even if you were able to go on with your life, you would still suffer from psychological disturbances. Any one of us might be put in the same situation as Yusuf (AS), but how far can we stand it?

Listen to this Hadith; it is narrated on the authority of Hudhaifa, “We were sitting in the company of Omar and he said, "Who amongst you has heard the Messenger of Allah talking about the turmoil?" Some people said, "It is we who heard it." Upon this he remarked, "Perhaps by turmoil you presume the unrest of man in regard to his household or neighbor." They replied, "Yes." He (Omar) observed, "Such (an unrest) would be done away with by prayer, fasting and charity. Who amongst you has heard the Apostle (SAWS) describing that turmoil which would come like the wave of the ocean?" Hudhaifa said, "The people hushed into silence. I replied, 'It is I.'" He (Omar) said, "Ye, well, your father was also very pious." Hudhaifa said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah observing, 'Temptations will be presented to men's hearts as reed mats are woven stick by stick and any heart which is impregnated by them will have a black mark put into it, but any heart which rejects them will have a white mark put in it. The result is that there will be two types of hearts: one white like a white stone which will not be harmed by any turmoil or temptation, so long as the heavens and the earth endure; and the other black and dust-colored like a vessel which is upset, not recognizing what is good or rejecting what is abominable, but being saturated with lust.'" Hudhaifa said, "I narrated to him (Omar), 'There is between you and that (turmoil) a closed door, but there is every likelihood of its being broken.'" Omar said, "Would it be broken? May you be rendered fatherless! Had it been opened, it would have been perhaps closed." I said, "No, it would be broken," and I narrated to him, "Verily that door implies a person who would be killed or die. There is no mistake in this Hadith.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 1, 2067).

This brings us to the importance of patience as manifested in Prophet Yusuf’s story. Actually, there are three kinds of patience:

1. Patience in the face of sins.
2. Patience in Allah's obedience.
3. Patience during hardships and afflictions.

Prophet Yusuf (AS) practiced the three kinds of patience. He was patient in the face of seduction. He was patient in Allah's obedience when he was given money and spent it for the sake of Allah (SWT) and when he forgave his brothers. He was also patient during all the hardships and afflictions he had been through.

Now we come to the question: which kind of patience do you think was preferable to Allah (SWT)? Is it Yusuf’s patience in prison or his patience against the seduction of the Aziz's wife? In other words, which do you think is more preferable to Allah (SWT); patience during afflictions or patience in the face of sins? Actually, patience against sins is better as it is optional. When it comes to afflictions, you are helpless. You can never prevent an ordeal from striking you, thus, you have no other choice but to be patient, whereas in the case of sins, you make the choice yourself; whether to commit them or not. Hence, patience in the face of sins is more preferable to Allah (SWT).

Again, was it Yusuf’s patience in prison or his patience in the well that was more preferable to Allah (SWT)? It is his patience in prison that was more preferable to Allah (SWT) as he said, "He said, “Lord! Prison is more beloved to me than what they call me to.”(TMQ, 12:33). It was he who chose to be put in prison, whereas, being thrown in the well was never his choice.

Another question to pose: was it his patience against seduction or his patience in obedience after he had been given great wealth that was more preferable to Allah (SWT)? In other words, which is better: patience in the face of sins or patience in Allah's obedience? Some scholars believe that patience in the face of sins is far more preferable to Allah (SWT) because resisting your inner self and desires is very arduous, whereas patience in obedience is much easier since the love of worship is instinctive in man and gives him pleasure every time he performs it.

On the other hand, a minority of scholars believes that patience in obedience is more preferable to Allah (SWT). The comparison they draw is between two persons, one who always worships Allah (SWT) patiently, but at the same time commits all kinds of sins, and another who neither worships Allah (SWT) nor commits sins. Certainly, the former is better than the latter, as he has performed the role for which he has been created, whereas he, who neither worships Allah (SWT) nor commits sins, has never known the purpose of his existence. Another example is of a person who worships Allah (SWT) and commits sins equally. In this very case, Allah’s mercy dominates His anger. Allah (SWT) says in a Qudsi Hadith, “My Mercy dominates My Anger.” Therefore, patience in Allah's obedience is more preferable to Allah (SWT) than patience in the face of sins.

Hence, moving from the better to the good, the three kinds of patience will be arranged as follows:

1. Patience in Allah's obedience.

2. Patience in the face of sins.

3. Patience during afflictions.

Moreover, patience is one way of worshipping Allah (SWT). In times of welfare, one worships Allah (SWT) by thanking Him for His grants, whereas in times of afflictions, one worships Him by being patient. Those who are not patient during hardships do not know the wisdom that Allah (SWT) hides deep in the ordeals they are in. As a matter of fact, we worship Allah (SWT) best in times of afflictions. It is the time when one feels very close to Allah (SWT), and tastes the sweetness of worship, which rarely happens in times of welfare. Thus, Yusuf’s story teaches us that the best way to worship Allah (SWT) in times of afflictions is to be patient and to raise your hands and heart up to Him, asking Him for relief.

Now, let us move on to Surat Yusuf in the Qur’an. At the very beginning of the Surah, you will read, “Alif-Lam-Ra.”(TMQ, 12:1) Those letters have been mentioned in many other Surahs. It is as if Allah (SWT) is telling us these are the letters of your language, a language out of which the Qur’an has shone as a miracle until the Day of Judgment.

Listen to this story to feel how miraculous the Qur’an is. In one of America’s greatest universities, a Muslim student got amazed at the huge number of laws of inheritance books his Professor possessed. The student said, "I am amazed! In the Qur’an the laws of inheritance are summarized in only three Ayahs, whereas your laws need this great number of enormous books!" The Professor was greatly surprised and asked the student for a translation of those Ayahs. He took the translation and returned after a week asking the student about the procedures of embracing Islam. Thus, the Qur’an is an everlasting miracle.

Now let us go back to the Ayahs. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Those are the ayat (Verses, signs) of the Evident Book” (TMQ, 12:1) By ‘Evident Book,’ Allah (SWT) means ‘miraculous.’ However, in what way is the Holy Qur’an miraculous and how is it the miracle of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)?

The Inimitability of the Qur’an:

1. Rhetorical inimitability: meaning the inimitability of words.

2. Scientific inimitability: the newly set down scientific theories have been mentioned in the Qur’an 1400 years ago.

3. Objective inimitability: whoever follows the teachings of the Qur’an is granted honor and leadership in life. A clear proof for this can be detected in:

· The way the Prophet's companions differed before and after Islam. They used to worship idols. In their journeys, they used to leave their idols behind so that they would not be heavy to carry and they used to fetch some other rocks to make other idols to carry along with them and then throw away as soon as they go back home. Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) used to worship an idol made out of dates so that whenever he became hungry he ate it. Those companions, who used to bury newborn girls alive before Islam, became the leaders of the whole world after embracing Islam.

· Again, we ourselves represent a good example for such inimitability. Those of us who are controlled by sins, and pulled away from the path of Allah (SWT) change completely the minute they repent to Allah (SWT) and return back to the teachings of the Qur’an. It is as if they become completely different persons.

Musa’s (AS) (Moses) miracle lied in his stick, while Isa’s (AS) (Jesus) was in bringing back life to the dead ones upon Allah’s will. Nevertheless, however great those miracles were, they died the minute those Prophets breathed their last. The miracle of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), the last of all Prophets, on the other hand, remains until the Day of Judgment so long as we apply all the teachings of the Qur’an. We have to fear Allah (SWT), so that we become true representatives of the Qur’an and a good proof of its inimitability. The only way to achieve this is to become successful persons and good role models for whoever meets us.

· In the following Ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Surely We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an, that possibly you would consider.” (TMQ, 12:2). Arabic is the language spoken by people in paradise, by Adam (AS), and by the angels too.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “We, Ever We, narrate to you the fairest of narratives in that We have revealed to you this Qur’an.” (TMQ, 12:3).

This Ayah was revealed when some of the companions asked Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) to tell them some stories. Allah (SWT) then revealed what can be translated as, “We relate unto you (Muhammad) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Qur’an.” (TMQ, 12:3). We learn from this that using stories is a very important technique in teaching people and in Da’wa (inviting others to Islam) work in general. We have to invite people to Islam in a nice way, a way that they would like.

This was the first Surah in the Holy Qur’an that relates a complete story. Other stories are cut down into episodes each of which is related in a separate group of Ayahs. These different ways of relating stories are meant to teach us more.

In one of the greatest Arab Universities, a professor of literature and fiction mentioned that he had studied fiction for 30 years; yet, upon reading the Holy Qur’an thoroughly, he was amazed to find in it all the fruits of his 30-year studies. In the Qur’an, he found short stories like the one of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) (Abraham) when about to slaughter his son. The short story also shows in the highly sophisticated dialogue between Musa (AS) and the Pharaoh. He also found in the Qur’an dramatic monologues like the one in which Ibrahim (AS) talks to himself. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Then, as soon as he (Ibrahim) saw the moon emerging, he said, “This is my Lord.”” (TMQ, 6:77). He went through with his observation until he reached the story of Prophet Yusuf (AS); which has all the elements of a complete story.

Now, why do you think Allah (SWT) has described Prophet Yusuf’s story as “fairest of narratives” (TMQ, 12:3)? Well, this is because:

1. It includes many lessons and pieces of wisdom that benefit all Muslims, in this life and in the hereafter. It is the greatest of all stories. In it, you can read about economics, trade, the science of Ro’yah (vision) interpretation, management, planning, psychoanalysis, as well as values and ethics.

2. It is the only story with a happy ending for all the characters involved. Prophet Yusuf (AS) was very happy at the end; Prophet Yaqub (AS) (Jacob) finally reunited with Yusuf (AS), restored his eyesight, and enjoyed the reconciliation between his sons, the Aziz’s wife confessed to her mistake, the king became happy after his country had been saved, and Yusuf’s brothers reconciled with him. Thus, the story ended up with everyone being happy.

In the following Ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “We, Ever We, narrate to you the fairest of narratives in that We have revealed to you this Qur’an, and decidedly before it you were indeed one of the heedless.” (TMQ, 12:3). This was the first time Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) learned about that story. Were it not for the revelation, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) would have never known anything about it.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “As Yužsuf said to his father, “O my father, surely I saw (i.e., in a dream) eleven planets and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.”” (TMQ, 12:4). The story started by relating a vision and ended when that vision came true. Then, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And he said, “O my father, this is the interpretation of my vision earlier; my Lord has already made it true;” (TMQ, 12:100). This of course is meant to attract the reader’s attention.

Notice that:

The name Yusuf is an Arabic one, derived from the Arabic word Asaf (apology). This signifies how Yusuf (AS) used to repent and apologize to Allah (SWT) a lot. Yusuf (SAWS) is the son of Yaqub (AS), son of Ishaq (AS) (Isaac), son of Ibrahim (AS). Hence, he, his father, and his grandfather are all Prophets. Even his great grandfather was the one whom Allah (SWT) has taken for a friend. However, despite that, he was stricken by many afflictions. When Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was once asked about the best of people he said that he is the one who fears Allah (SWT) most. When the companions said that they were not asking about that, he said, “It is Yusuf, the Prophet of Allah, son of the Prophet of Allah, son of the Prophet of Allah, son of the friend of Allah." (The complete version of this Hadith is in Sahih Muslim, Book 030, Number 5862).

Once, Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) passed by a man telling his friend, “Do you know who my father is? I am the son of so and so…etc” and he went on telling his full lineage. The names he mentioned were either those of hypocrites or disbelievers, yet, rich people. “Do you know Yusuf?” asked Omar (RA). “Yes,” answered the man. “Do you know who his father is?” asked Omar (RA), “He is a Prophet, son of a Prophet, son of a Prophet, and you are an evil man, and so are your ancestors, and in the Day of Judgment, you will all be dipped deep in hell.”

Yaqub (AS) had eleven sons together with Yusuf (AS) and Benyamin (Benjamin) who were from a different mother. “… and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.” (TMQ, 12:4) The Qur’anic expression ‘The Moon’ refers to the mother whereas ‘The Sun’ represents the father who gives knowledge. The sun gives out bright light and represents strength and knowledge, whereas the moon, with its tender light beams, fits the mother who is the source of compassion.

“He said, “O my son, do not narrate your vision to your brothers” (TMQ, 12:5). We know from this Ayah that Yaqub (AS) was an expert in vision interpretation. He inherited this God-given gift from his grandfather Ibrahim (AS). Despite knowing the interpretation of that vision, Yaqub (AS) did not tell his son about it. He wanted him to face his fate without being dependant on anyone or anything and without waiting for what was to come. Actually, this is the wisdom of Allah (SWT) that He grants a very few number of people the gift of vision interpretation so that we would not be dependant on the visions we see and stop working to achieve what we want.

Vision interpretation was acknowledged in the days of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). He himself used to interpret visions and dreams. Of the companions, Abu-Bakr (RA) was the one who did that the most. Khaled Ibnul-Walid once had a vision. He saw himself moving from a very narrow land to a much wider one. Abu-Bakr (RA) interpreted this as Khaled’s conversion from disbelief to Islam. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) himself had many visions, one of which was about the battle of Uhud. He saw cows slaughtered, his sword’s blade partly broken, and his hands in an impervious armor. He interpreted this as follows: his companions would be killed and one of his family members would be martyred, whereas the impervious armor stood for al-Madinah. This is one of Prophet Muhammad’s famous visions.

Ibn-Sireen is considered the most popular Muslim Scholar in the field of dream interpretations. One day, a man came to him seeking an interpretation for a vision where he had seen himself saying the Adhan (call for prayer). Ibn-Sireen, knowing that this man was a devoted Muslim, interpreted the vision saying that this man would perform Hajj (pilgrimage). However, when a sinner related to him the same vision, Ibn-Sireen interpreted it saying that this man would be publicly shamed. He derived the two interpretations from the Holy Qur’an. In the first one, he depended on the Ayah in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And announce to mankind the Pilgrimage;” (TMQ, 22:27), whereas in the second, he depended on the one in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Thereafter a crier announced, (Literally: an announcer announced) “O you (of) the caravan, surely you are indeed thieves!" (TMQ, 12:70). As we can see, the science of vision interpretation is based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah, and requires quick-wittedness and sharp intelligence.

“He said, “O my son, do not narrate your vision to your brothers” (TMQ, 12:5). We should note here that there is a difference in Arabic between Ro’yah (vision of the eyes when one is awake) and Ro’ya (vision of the mind or the mental images one sees when one is asleep). Hence, according to this Ayah, you can hide some of the graces that Allah (SWT) blesses you with if you are afraid of being envied. However Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And as for your Lord’s favor, then discourse about it! (i.e., proclaim it).” (TMQ, 93:11). Normally, you are supposed to tell about those graces, but not in detail so that your enemies would not envy you. Thus, everyone can have a vision; whether they are believers or disbelievers (like Khaled’s vision before embracing Islam), young or old.

The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, "Nothing is left of the prophethood except al-Mubashirat." They asked, "What are al-Mubashirat?" He replied, "The true good dreams (that conveys glad tidings). (Narrated by Abu-Huraira in Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 87, Number 119). He also said, "A good vision (that comes true) of a righteous man is one of forty-six parts of prophethood." (Narrated by Anas Ibn-Malik in Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 112). The 23 years of Mohammad's prophethood were preceded by a period of six months of true visions. If we divide six months by 23 years, we will find out that they constitute one part of 46 parts. In other words, the period of these six months of true visions constituted an integral part of the forty-six parts of prophethood. In another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said, “The good vision is one part of the 70 parts of prophethood.” (Narrated on the authority of Nafi' in Sahih Muslim, Book 029, Number 5634). The more pious you become, the more parts of prophethood you acquire.

We should not refuse to acknowledge good visions, as they come true, however, we should never set up a legitimate rule based on the visions we have. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) saw that his hands were in an impervious armor and interpreted this as a symbol that he should remain in al-Madinah. However, he had to give the upper hand to consultation, being a legitimate rule. He consulted his companions and, following their opinion, went out of al-Madinah. He gave consultation the priority over vision, since no legitimate rule can be set up on the latter.

There was a very famous incident in 1978 in which a group of young men occupied the Holy Haram in Makkah. As a result, prayers were stopped in the Haram and eventually police forces had to kill these men. It was later discovered that they all had the same vision where they saw one of them being the expected Mahdi and that they had to occupy the Holy Ka’ba. That is why we say that visions are not a source of legislation.

What do you think is the difference between a vision, a dream, and a Satan's trick? Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) says, "There are three types of dreams: the reflection of one's thoughts and experiences one has during wakefulness, what is suggested by Satan to frighten the dreamer, or glad tidings from Allah (SWT). If someone has a dream which he dislikes, he should not tell it to others, but get up and offer a prayer." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 144). In visions, you might see mind-boggling images; you might for example see yourself falling down and turning into chickens and pigeons; all fantasy. Al-Bukhari said that he used to remain sick for days after having a bad dream until he heard a Hadith narrated by Abu-Qatada in which he said, "I too, used to see a dream which would make me sick until I heard the Prophet (SAWS) saying, "A good dream is from Allah, so if anyone of you saw a dream which he liked, he should not tell it to anybody except to the one whom he loves, and if he saw a dream which he disliked, then he should seek refuge with Allah from its evil and from the evil of Satan, and spit three times (on his left) and should not tell it to anybody, for it will not harm him." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 168).

Now, what are you supposed to do when you have a vision?

1. Any Muslim may have a vision; whether he is young or old, a sinner or a devoted practicing person. A vision is more likely to come true as long as it does not contradict any legitimate rule.

2. If you have a good vision, relate it to those whom you love. If, on the other hand, you have a bad dream, you should never relate it to anyone; just spit on your left and turn to the other direction.

3. If you feel that the vision you had needs to be interpreted, search for a devoted Muslim who knows how to interpret dreams and ask him for an interpretation.

One day, a man came to Ibn-Sireen seeking an interpretation for a vision he had. He saw that all his teeth fell out and was told that this was a symbol that all his family members would die soon. Shocked, the man came to Ibn-Sireen seeking another interpretation. Ibn-Sireen interpreted the vision saying that the man would be the last one to die in his family. Hence, vision interpreters can be bearers of good tidings or bringers of bad news.

Once, a boy saw in a vision Satan incarnate telling a big crowd of people that Allah (SWT) has rendered permissible all that was forbidden before. “You are a liar,” the boy shouted, “It can not be true that Allah (SWT) would permit anything forbidden.” “Then, let us race together and whoever wins will be followed by this crowd,” said Satan. They raced and the boy won. Years later, the boy became one of the greatest Muslim scholars. Thus, do not ask about each and everything. Trust in Allah (SWT) and He will settle everything for you. Finally, let us agree on memorizing this part of Surat Yusuf and next time we shall start talking about the plot of Yusuf’s brothers against him.

[1] Sala-llahu Alaihi Wa-Sallam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

[2] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:26 AM


I seek refuge with Allah (SWT), the All-Hearing and the All-Knowing, from the cursed Satan. In the name of Allah (SWT), the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful. Peace and blessings be upon our master, the noblest Prophet Muhammad. We praise Allah (SWT), thank Him, seek His help, guidance and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah (SWT) from the evil in our souls and the sinfulness of our deeds. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Whomever Allah guides, then he is right-guided, and whomever He leads away into error, then you will never find for him a right-minded patron." (TMQ, 18:17)[1].

We agreed in the previous lecture on memorizing all the Ayat (verses) we interpret and we have already interpreted four Ayat. Believe me, memorizing the Surah after hearing the interpretation really makes a big difference. In this lecture we will extract many themes out of each Ayah. Listen to this Ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Surely the believers are only the ones who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts tremble and when His ayat (Signs or verses) are recited to them, they increase them in belief." (TMQ, 8:2). Now we will recite Allah’s Ayat. Are you one of those whom the Ayah mentioned; those whose faith is strengthened when they hear Allah's Ayat, or do they make no difference to you at all or do they even lessen your faith? I will remind you of this Ayah at the end of the lecture to see the difference.

Now let's go back to the Ayat of Surat Yusuf and their interpretation. Last time we stopped at the Ayah in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "As Yusuf (Joseph) said to his father, "O my father, surely, I saw (i.e., in a dream) eleven planets and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me." (TMQ, 12:4).

As we've mentioned before, Yusuf (AS) was very much loved by his father. He had eleven brothers. Only one of them, Binyamin (Benjamin), was his full brother. The other ten were half-brothers. Yusuf (AS) and his brother Binyamin were the youngest among Yaqub (AS) (Jacob’s) sons as Yaqub’s wife bore him ten sons then he married another woman who bore him Yusuf, the elder, then Binyamin, the youngest.

The other ten brothers were a strong group; they had deep affinity, they were very united and they did everything together. The two younger brothers; Yusuf (AS) and Binyamin, were still young children, incapable of doing work. As we've mentioned before the story takes place in South Palestine and the consummation of the incidents will take place in Egypt. Yusuf (AS), at that time, was very young, he was not more than 12 years old. Most reports verify that he was not more than 12 years old when he was thrown into the well.

The strong relationship between Yusuf (AS) and his father Yaqub (AS):

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Behold! Joseph said to his father: "O my father!" (TMQ, 12:4). As we said in the previous lecture, the word Ya Abatah (Father) with higher intonation implies that the father is addressed in a loud voice, whereas the word Ya Abati (Father) the lower intonation used here, means that Yusuf (AS) was talking with his father alone. Notice the inimitability and miraculous style of the Qur’an as a minor intonation change shows us the way he talked to his father. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, As Yusuf (Joseph) said to his father, “O my father, surely I saw (i.e., in a dream) eleven planets and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me.” He said, “O my little son, do not narrate your vision to your brothers, (for) then they may plot against you (some) plotting. Surely Ash-Shaytan (The all-Vicious (one), i.e., the Devil) is to man an evident enemy." (TMQ, 12:4-5).

Let us interpret the two Ayat and observe the useful lessons they teach us. We learn a great deal from these two Ayat; they show us how strong the relationship between sons and fathers should be. The youth relationship with their fathers nowadays is not strong at all. If you ask a young man, “If you saw a vision like that of Yusuf (AS), to whom would you tell it - to your father?” The answer will be, “No! Of course not!” All of them would tell it to their friends and if they felt it was serious, then to their brothers or sisters. However, have you noticed that the first person to whom Yusuf (AS) told his vision was his father? He didn't tell it to his mother because he needed the father’s wisdom. We are in need for this feeling. In many cases, our youth miss the father’s wisdom - not because the father is not wise. No! Maybe because he no longer cares or is busy day and night at work. He might be working in another country and his top priority is to bring money for his son but not to develop his son's brain. Maybe the father has no time for his son because he hangs out with his friends at some café forgetting about his child, or maybe it is the son's fault because he refuses to give his father a chance. This is a mistake which many youth make these days.

The discourse problem between youth and parents:

Youngsters nowadays are isolated; they only think of themselves and their friends. They reject their fathers. This of course breaks their fathers’ hearts. This is not a trivial problem. I want each and every one of you to notice that throughout our interpretation of the story we will learn thousands of lessons and the clever one will not just listen but apply those lessons as well. I hope that everyone makes use of what we are learning here and write the lessons he has learned out of each lecture. You will find that in every Ayah there are many lessons that would reform your life. The first lesson to observe is the relationship between Yusuf (AS) and his father. In fact, sometimes we find that it is the son’s mistake. Try telling your father one day that you want to talk to him about your problems and worries, and then see how happy he will be. Believe me, you will feel faith flowing through your heart. You know something - you might pray a whole night and not feel the beauty of faith the way you will feel it when you sit with your father because you will be doing this with a pure intention to please Allah (SWT). Do you know that feeling when someone prays Qiyam (night prayer) for a week? You will experience the same feeling once you sit with your father for half an hour only because you have put an end to his pain and his feelings that you are a stranger to him. You can try it and you'll see how beautiful that time will be and how happy and joyful you will feel!

The benefits of an open discussion between parents and children:

Let us go back to Yusuf’s story and notice how much love is there in it. The son went to his father and told him Ya Abati (O my Father) and his father replied Ya Bonai (O my little son). We notice here that Yaqub (AS) did not say to him Ya ibni (my son) but said my little son, which shows pity. Observe how beautiful the relationship between them was!

Sometimes when a son wants to marry a certain girl, his mother wouldn't agree without giving any reasons. Well, this is wrong! Have you noticed how Yaqub (AS) is talking to his son who is not 12 years old yet in a serious manner telling him not to tell his vision to his brothers so that they would not conspire against him because the devil may fill their hearts with jealousy. Maybe the words are not suitable for his age but the Qur’an wants to show us the type of relationship between them. In spite of all the material and cultural development we are experiencing now, we still have not reached this level yet. I ask all youth to give their parents a chance. Someone might say my father is strict. Well, maybe he is strict because he does not know how to get to you. Maybe it is because you are isolated. You are the one who isolated yourself.

Let us all try this advice; let us go to our fathers and tell them we want to talk to them about our problems. Even those of you who have got married and have their own families, go back to your parents! You may talk about ordinary stuff, but do it anyway to bridge the gap between you and you fathers. You can never imagine how pleased with you your parents will be, through the grace of Allah (SWT). We should all try and imitate Yusuf (AS) and listen to what our fathers tell us because if we do not, we may end up being undutiful and disobedient to our parents.

Take for example, a mother should not refuse the girl her son wants to marry just because she does not like her but she has to give clear reasons why she does not agree. When the mother sits with her son and clarifies for him these reasons then if he does not listen to what she says, he will become an undutiful and disobedient son. How could we stop a marriage without giving reasons and afterwards ask our children to be obedient? It is very important to have open discussions between parents and children. This is the first thing we conclude from the relationship between Yusuf (AS) and Yaqub (AS). Yusuf (AS) was only 12 years old then – remember! From this we learn a very important lesson; establishing a solid father-son relationship is crucial and, as we have mentioned before, it is the responsibility of both the father and the son.

The Muslim is cautious:

From the same Ayah we deduct another meaning. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "He said, "O my little son! Do not narrate your vision to your brothers…" (TMQ, 12:5). Being cautious is one of the qualities of the Muslim. This does not mean being ambiguous or reserved in a way that would make people turn away from him. On the contrary, the Muslim is an open book; he deals simply and openly with people but he is cautious. What do we mean by cautious? We mean that he follows the Prophet’s (SAWS[2]) Hadith, “Secrecy helps in achieving goals.” (Authenticated by al-Albany, Sahih al-Jamie’, 943). This lesson is being taught by Yaqub (AS) to a 12 years old child. Imagine! He is teaching him to do so with his brothers! This is a lesson many people need to learn; women sometimes tell everybody about what goes on in their houses and the problems they have.

Cautiousness is also evident in another place in Surat Yusuf. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And he said, "O my sons! (Or: my seeds) Do not enter by one gate, and enter by separate gates." (TMQ, 12:67). Yusuf’s father had brought him up on being cautious since his childhood. This is evident in how he told his father ya abati (O father) which means that he is not used to saying everything in front of anyone and this is a very important lesson. Have you noticed that Yusuf’s story not only teaches us to worship Allah (SWT) but also introduce a type of fear which human beings are in need of in order to live a life free from harm? In being cautious there is yet another aspect to discuss.

Yaqub’s wisdom:

Why did Yaqub (AS) ask Yusuf (AS) not to tell the story to anyone? Well, he did that for two reasons. The first one is to avoid the deceit of Yusuf's brothers. The second reason was because he knew that if Yusuf's brothers had known about this vision they would have felt jealous and he did not want to hurt their feelings so he asked him not to tell them about the vision.

Observe the father's wisdom and rationalism. I want everyone of you to learn from this Surah lessons that would help you go on with life; I mean if you feel once that some word you are about to say might make someone else jealous then do not say it; we don't want to bear malice against each other.

Thus, Yaqub (AS) felt that if Yusuf's brothers knew about this vision they would become extremely jealous and this means that he did not feel worried about Yusuf (AS) only but also about the rest of his sons.

The work of Satan:

There is another lesson in the same Ayah. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "He said, "O my little son, do not narrate your vision to your brothers, (for) then they should may plot against you (some) plotting. ! Surely ash-Shaytan (The all-Vicious (one), i.e., the Devil) is to man an evident enemy!" (TMQ, 12:5).

Why did Yaqub (AS) link the plotting of Yusuf's brothers against him to these words, "…ash-Shaytan (The all-Vicious (one), i.e., the Devil) is to man an evident enemy!" In other words, why did the Ayah come in such an order bringing forth the plotting then Satan? It is because you need to know that no envy, hatred, or anger exists in this world without Satan being the main reason behind it. Those feelings in particular are not part of the human self. What fills your heart and soul with hatred, envy and anger is really Satan. What I want to say is that there are some feelings which are part of the human self like the lust for food or sex. These feelings can either be from within your self or invoked by Satan. However, if you find yourself boiling with anger and cannot control your feelings, you should know then that Satan is having a hand on you. If you felt hatred within you towards a particular person then you should know that Satan is controlling you. If you felt envy then you should know that Satan is controlling you. This is why Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) advised whosoever gets angry to do Wudu (ablution). What is the relationship between anger and Wudu? The Prophet (SAWS) wanted to teach us a practical lesson; Satan is created from fire and water puts out fire. This is an important lesson we need to learn.

Allah (SWT) selecting Yusuf (AS):

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And thus your Lord will select you and teach you (a portion) of the interpretation of discourses, and perfect His favor upon you, and upon the house of Yaqub, as He perfected it earlier upon your two fathers Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ishaq (Isaac). Surely your Lord is Ever-knowing, Ever-Wise." (TMQ, 12:6).

What is the relationship between the word "Thus" here and the previous Ayah? In the previous Ayah, Yaqub (AS) warned Yusuf (AS) against telling his vision to his brothers and against Satan who is an avowed enemy of man and that his brothers might plot against him. How, do you think, would a child in Yusuf's age feel when he hears this? He would be afraid and worried. The wise father had to tell his son the aforementioned warnings at first but afterwards he knew he had to calm him down so he told him the good news, "your Lord will select you and teach you (a portion) of the interpretation of discourses," which means that he is already blessed and that Allah (SWT) will perfect His blessings on him and all this is in order to bring tranquility to his heart. From this Ayah, we learn that the major component of a parent-child relationship is not that of blaming the child. The father who goes on telling his son all the time that he is bad, wrong, cannot do anything, or push him hard during exams should, to the contrary, calm him down and tell him that insh'Allah he will succeed and that Allah (SWT) will bless him. The issue of tranquility between parents and children is a very important component of the upbringing process. At the same time, it makes the child grow up into a strong and solid person.

Among the beautiful words in the Ayah is "select you." What is the meaning of "select you?" It means picking him up or choosing him. What did He choose Yusuf (AS) for? Prophethood. This means that Yaqub (AS) understood that the vision signifies Prophethood. The question here is: did Yusuf (AS) do anything important to be chosen by Allah (SWT)? Did he do any thing at all in order to be chosen by Allah (SWT)? No, he did not do anything. Someone might say, "Then Yusuf's brothers were right when they wondered why Allah (SWT) favored Yusuf (AS) over them?" No, they weren't. Allah (SWT) chooses whosoever He wants.

This is a decisive point - take care! This is where envy starts. Envy eats good deeds (hasanat) just as fire eats wood and this is a Hadith (Narrated Abu-Huraira, Sunnan Abu Dawoud, No 4903). It means that if you envied someone this envy would eat up the good deeds of the previous day and if it increased it would eat up the good deeds of the day before and so on. We have to admit that this is a very important issue and many people do not take notice of how it begins. It begins by the word "why?" By the way, you don't have to actually utter the word; it is enough to have it within your heart. This word was the one that led Yusuf's brothers astray. They went astray when they asked, "Why him, why him in particular?" The answer is in what Allah (SWT) says which can be translated as, "He will not be questioned as (to) what He performs, and they will be questioned." (TMQ, 21:23). It is improper to ask 'why' because this is the reason behind the sin and the beginning of a road leading to hellfire. Every one of us should know that he is a servant of Allah (SWT), thus he has no right to ask; Allah (SWT) chooses whatever He wants. Among the examples of His choice is performing the rituals of Hajj (pilgrimage) for instance in the desert. Some might wonder why Allah (SWT) didn't choose a place like Vienna for example which is very beautiful and full of trees. We have no right to ask. Allah (SWT) also chose the month of Ramadan and highly glorified it over all the other months with great rewards and then He chose the night of Al-Qadr[3]. In all these cases we have got nothing to do but to obey.

A lesson in accepting Allah's decree and wisdom

There is a story about the servant's wondering about his Lord's choices. There was a man called Abu-Amer who lived in Makkah before the Prophet's mission. This man learnt from the ancient divine books that the time of the last prophet had approached so he started preparing himself because he wanted to be that prophet. Thus, he stopped drinking liquor and did his best to reform himself because he wanted to be a prophet and knew that this will only be given to a good man. He became such a devout worshipper that people used to call him Abu-Amer, the monk. Then Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was assigned to the mission. It never occurred to him, that Allah (SWT) might choose him for such a mission. As a matter of fact, he was almost the only person in Makkah who had not thought about this issue. Even lady Khadijah knew more about this matter than did the Prophet (SAWS) himself. When the revelation was sent upon Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), Abu-Amer became the Prophet's worst enemy. Therefore, Allah (SWT) sent down an Ayah saying what can be translated as, "Allah knows best where He makes His Message." (TMQ, 6:124). Thus, don't you ever envy anyone or ask, "Why?" By the way, Abu-Amer was the one who dug the hole into which the Prophet (SAWS) fell during the battle of Uhud. Now can you see where envy led this man? He went to the battle but not to fight, he did not care who wins and who loses; his sole concern was the Prophet (SAWS). He kept on digging holes around the Prophet (SAWS) so that he would fall into one of them. All of this was because of his envious soul and failure to accept Allah's choice. Such was the cause of many enmities throughout history.

The cause of the Jews hatred for Islam and Muslims:

Do you know why the Jews hate us? It is because they wished that the last prophet had been from among them. All the prophets since Yaqub (AS) until the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) were the sons and the descendants of Yaqub (AS), the only prophet who was a descendant of Isma’il (AS) was Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). This is the reason behind their anger and hatred for us. The Jews leader in Madinah, Hoyay Ibn-Akhtab, had extraordinary knowledge of the Torah. He was a hermit and a devoted worshipper who knew the Torah word by word. Be noted that the Torah mentioned all the descriptions of the Prophet (SAWS) except for his birth place. This of course was done so that the Jews would know all the qualities of that Prophet (SAWS), propagate for him and spread his description among people thinking that he would be from among them as the Torah hid the fact that he would be from among the Arabs.

When the Prophet (SAWS) migrated to Madinah, Hoyay Ibn-Akhtab went out to see him. He started to notice how he dealt with people and felt deep down in his heart that he is the last prophet. He went to the Prophet (SAWS) and asked him, "Where is your father? The Prophet (SAWS) replied, "He died." Hoyay said, "Right you are." He then asked, "And your mother?" The Prophet (SAWS) said, "She died." Hoyay replied, "Right you are." Then he asked the Prophet (SAWS) to show him his back so the Prophet (SAWS) did. At that moment, Hoyay saw the seal of Prophethood right by the first vertebra. Hoyay went to his brother who asked him, "Is it him?" (He meant the Prophet mentioned in the Torah) Hoyay replied, "Yes, it is him." His brother asked him, "What are you going to do then?" Hoyay said, "I'll be his enemy for as long as I live!" Envy was a disease in Hoyay's heart and was the reason for his death as a disbeliever.

Therefore dear brothers and sisters I want each one of you to check his heart because so long as envy is in there it will eat up all the rewards of your good deeds. Thus, you should do your best to be worthy of being chosen by Allah (SWT) then you should put your trust in Allah (SWT) and never envy other people. Even if you were not chosen by Allah (SWT), trust Him and be satisfied with whatever He does to you.

Every one of you should follow this rule, "Don't ever envy others." Try your best to make yourself worthy of being chosen by Allah (SWT) through your worship, trustworthiness and loyalty. We should all notice that Abu-Amer was not on the wrong track at the beginning; he was mistaken later on, however, when he refused what Allah (SWT) chose for him.

Take care everybody; all the people attending a religious lesson or listening to it will enter paradise insh'Allah because Allah (SWT), the Almighty says what can be translated as, “…He is (The One) Who has selected you…” (TMQ, 22:78). If you think about it, you will find that Allah (SWT) has chosen you from amongst 6.5 billion persons - that is the world's population. Imagine that instead of sitting now listening to this lesson, you might have been a very wealthy person who lives in the most civilized country in the world but who believes in nothing. You have been first selected to be among 1.5 billion Muslims, then He chose you to be among the millions who pray, then He chose you out of thousands or even millions of people to pray at the Masjid, then He selected you to be among those who attend religious lessons. I mean all the time Allah (SWT) is making you get closer and closer to Him. What have you done, you and the others, to deserve being selected? If you remember what we said at the beginning of this lecture about Allah's declaration to the angels that He forgives all the people who attend religious lectures, isn't this yet another type of being selected by Allah (SWT)?

We are still at the sixth Ayah which ends with Allah (SWT) saying what can be translated as, "Surely, your Lord is Ever-Knowing, Ever-Wise." (TMQ, 12:6).

Why did Allah (SWT) choose these two qualities to end the Ayah with? Well, He did it to assure us that the act of choosing belongs only to Him. Here, I want to draw your attention to something, in every Ayah that ends with one of Allah's names, you should know that this name has a strong connection with the content of the Ayah. This fact usually goes by unnoticed. The part in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Surely, your Lord is Ever-Knowing, Ever-Wise." (TMQ, 12:6) is very important because it shows us that the act of selection belongs only to Allah (SWT) because of His knowledge and wisdom, for Allah (SWT) knows and we do not know. Thus, we should contemplate the ends of the Ayat we read. If you want to memorize the Qur'an you have to link the Ayah with its end.

Remembering Allah's bounties:

Let us continue the Ayah. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “…and perfect His favor upon you, and upon the house of Yaqub, as He perfected it earlier upon your two fathers, Ibrahim and Ishaq. Surely your Lord is Ever -Knowing, Ever -Wise." (TMQ, 12: 6).

There is a very important meaning in this Ayah. Yaqub (AS) is reminding his son of Allah's favor on his grand-father Ibrahim (AS) although Ibrahim (AS) is the father of Yusuf's grand-father. Imagine! Many people forget the bounties Allah (SWT) gives them even if they were given to them not more than two months ago. Remembering bounties is one of the best things to increase your love for Allah (SWT); if you want to love Allah (SWT) more remind yourself all the time of His bounties. If you want to ease your misfortunes remember how trivial they are in comparison to Allah's bounties. If you want to get closer to Allah (SWT) and to love Him more, bring a paper and a pen and write down the bounties Allah (SWT) gave you; write down that you can see while there are others who cannot, that you can walk while there are others who are paralyzed, that you can understand and use your brain to think while there are others who are mad and that you have food and drinks while others search for anything to eat in trash cans. Write down that you are a Muslim and others are deprived of this bounty and that every year many youth commit suicide because they do not know the purpose of being alive. Write down that Allah (SWT) is Merciful and loves you and that He made you good-looking. Love Allah (SWT) with all your hearts and remember the Ayah in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And as for your Lord’s favor, then discourse about it! (i.e., proclaim it)." (TMQ, 93:11). Appreciate the bounty and talk about it. The best example for this is what Yaqub (AS) did; he told his son of the bounties Allah (SWT) bestowed upon him and his father and grandfather.

Which one of you here sits and tells his children how he suffered privation at the beginning of his life then Allah (SWT) bestowed his graces upon him. If you want to remind your parents of Allah's bounties go and ask them to tell you how they were promoted in their jobs; how they went up the ladder step by step. Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) was once walking and met a man so he asked him, "How are you today?" The man replied, "I am fine." He asked again, "How are you today?" The man answered, "I am fine." He asked a third time, "How are you today?" The man replied, "I am fine alhamdu-lillah (Praise be to Allah)," so Omar (RA) replied that is what I wanted to hear.

In the same Ayah, there is a part in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “…and perfect His favor upon you and upon the house of Yaqub." (TMQ, 12:6). What favor does Allah (SWT) mean? He means Prophethood. This means that Yaqub's interpretation of Yusuf's vision didn't stop at the prostration of his eleven brothers and his father and mother before him; it went far beyond that. Yaqub (AS) understood from the vision that Yusuf (AS) would be a prophet. This is because Yaqub (AS) himself was a prophet and since the vision pointed out to his prostration before Yusuf (AS), it wouldn't be possible that aPprophet would prostrate before someone lower in position. This was a sign of Yusuf's Prophethood. The prostration here was that of respect and honor, not worship.

The wonders of visions interpretation:

The following incident is among the wonders of visions interpretation. The Prophet (SAWS) said, "I saw (in a dream) a woman with unkempt hair going out of Madinah and settling at Mahai'a, i.e., al-Juhfa. I interpreted that as a symbol of epidemic of Madinah being transferred to that place (al-Juhfa)." (Narrated Abdullah Ibn-Omar, Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 87, Number 161+162)

Why did the Prophet (SAWS) interpret the vision this way? The woman's appearance in Madinah could never signify the existence of sins in this city because the city of the beloved Prophet (SAWS) never accepts sins. Since the woman does not stand for a sin then it must be a disease that would afflict Madinah then leave it.

Another interpretation of a vision is related by Ibn-'Abbas. A man came to Allah's Apostle and said, "I saw in a dream, a cloud having shade. Butter and honey were dropping from it and I saw the people gathering it in their hands, some gathering much and some a little. And behold, there was a rope extending from the earth to the sky, and I saw that you (the Prophet) held it and went up, and then another man held it and went up and (after that) another (third) held it and went up, and then after another (fourth) man held it, but it broke and then got connected again." Abu-Bakr said, "O Allah's Apostle! Let my father be sacrificed for you! Allow me to interpret this dream." The Prophet (SAWS) said to him, "Interpret it." Abu Bakr said, "The cloud with shade symbolizes Islam, and the butter and honey dropping from it, symbolizes the Qur’an, its sweetness dropping and some people learning much of the Qur'an and some a little. The rope which is extended from the sky to the earth is the Truth which you (the Prophet) are following. You follow it and Allah will raise you high with it, and then another man will follow it and will rise up with it and another person will follow it and then another man will follow it but it will break and then it will be connected for him and he will rise up with it." (Narrated Ibn 'Abbas, Sahih Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 170.)

Allah (SWT) did not give the knowledge of visions interpretation except to a few people. Among them was Yaqub (AS) and after him was Yusuf (AS) then of course he gave it to Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) and after him Abu-Bakr (RA) and Ibn-Sirin. Those who know this science are very rare as we mentioned in the previous lecture.

Now let's move on to the next Ayah. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Indeed in Yusuf and his brothers were already signs for the questioners." (TMQ, 12:7). On reading this you feel that there is some sort of a break between this Ayah and the previous one; you feel that there was a certain theme wrapped up in the previous Ayah and a new theme about to begin in this one. This is because Surat Yusuf is a story and in that respect it resembles plays; a scene ends and another one begins. The incidents of the story begin with Allah (SWT) saying what can be translated as, "Indeed in Yusuf and his brothers were already signs for the questioners." (TMQ, 12:7). Why do you think Allah (SWT) says "were already signs for the questioners?" The reason is that a group of Jews went to the Prophet (SAWS) in Makkah and told him, "Oh Muhammad tell us about a man who lived in the Land of Sham whose son was taken from him and sold in Egypt. The father cried so much that he lost his eye sight." The Prophet (SAWS) did not reply as he really did not know anything about that story and neither did Quraish. The story was not known to anyone except for the Jews because it was mentioned in the Torah. Therefore, Allah (SWT) the Almighty revealed the Ayah that can be translated as, "Indeed in Yusuf and his brothers were already signs for the questioners." (TMQ, 12:7) meaning, 'the questioners' the Jews.

In the next Ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "As they said, "Indeed Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we, and we are a band. Surely our father is indeed in evident error." (TMQ, 12:8).

There are many themes to discuss in this Ayah. First, were Yusuf's brothers right? Did Yaqub (AS) love Yusuf (AS) and preferred him to his brothers and treated him better than them? The answer is: no way! It is impossible that Yaqub (AS) did that, because he is a prophet and prophets are infallibles. Remember what we have said before about how Yaqub (AS) cared about his sons' feelings when he asked Yusuf (AS) not to tell them about his vision. However, they felt that their father loved their two little brothers more than them because of a few things he did. Yaqub (AS) used to give greater attention to Yusuf (AS) and his brother because they were still young. This was a natural attitude. If we asked any father who, of his children, he cares about the most, he would say the little one. Once upon a time a woman was asked about the most beloved of her children. She said, "The young until he grows up, the sick until he is cured, and the traveler until he comes home." Thus, this is the normal action of any father. Yaqub (AS) did not prefer some of his children to the others. All his other sons were strong and united. Only Yusuf (AS) and his brother were small, and unable to work or depend on themselves yet. Therefore, it was natural that they should be given more attention than the others. Thus, it was not Yaqub's mistake but their own. It was their imagination, ill hearts, and envy that led them to all that. May be this also happened because Yusuf (AS) was beautiful and they wanted to find an excuse for their envy.

The pretexts for envy and its forms:

These words are directed to both men and women. We mentioned that we must all be on our guards against envy. Now, why is that? Envy never comes in a direct and obvious form. What happens is that a person would envy someone for something he has, but would not want to be honest with himself about his jealousy. Instead he searches within his heart for a reason to hate that person and he might even try to pick holes in what he says or does so that he can hate him and envy him with a clear conscience. No one would ever confess that he is envying someone; he will make himself believe that the other person deserves his hatred. That is exactly what happened in Yusuf's story. This teaches us a lesson; a father must never favor a child, not even with a smile. Nu'man B. Bashir reported that his mother Bint-Rawaha asked his (Nu'man's) father about donating some gifts from his property to his son. He deferred the matter by one year, and then set forth to do that. She (Nu'man's mother) said, “I shall not be pleased unless you call Allah's Messenger as witness to what you confer as a gift on your son.” (Nu'man said), “So father took hold of my hand and I was at that time a boy, and came to Allah's Messenger and said, “Allah's Messenger, the mother of this son (of mine), daughter of Rawaha wishes that I should call you witness to what I confer as gift to her son. Allah's Messenger said, “Bashir, have you any other son besides this (son of yours)?” He said, “Yes.” He (the Holy Prophet (SAWS)) said, “Have you given gifts to all of them like this?” He said, “No.” Thereupon, he (the Holy Prophet (SAWS)) said, “Then call me not as witness, for I cannot be witness to an injustice.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 012, Number 3966.) Scholars state that there is an exceptional case in which it is permissible to favor one of your sons with extra money; that is when that son is very poor, otherwise it is not permissible to favor one child and leave the rest out.

In the next Ayah Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "As they said, "Indeed Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we, and we are a band. Surely our father is indeed in evident error. Kill Yusuf, or banish him out to some (other) land, so that your father’s face may be free (Literally: (void) and empty; i.e., your father will have time for you or pay you more attention (Yusuf out of the way) for you…" (TMQ, 12:8-9). How cruel and hard-hearted they are! Do you know why they were that evil in spite of their being Yusuf's brothers? Those eleven brothers are the ones who will bear the Jewish descendents. Let us extract from those two Ayat the qualities of the eleven brothers which will be the essence of the Jews' characteristics.

The characteristics of the Jews:

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "As they said, "Indeed Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we." (TMQ, 12:8). This shows a feeling of oppression. They feel that they are oppressed, hated and fought every where on earth. Thus they think that they deserve compassion and that they are justified to do what they are doing. The next characteristic is envy that leads to murder. The third is the boldness to kill; the easiest thing they do is to kill. Disrespect, especially for prophets, is also among their characteristics. Moreover, they also have the ability to lie and hide the truth; they hid the truth from their father for 40 years. This is totally against human nature. A wife who makes a big mistake and hides it from her husband would in two or three years feel that she would die if she did not tell him about it. They, on the other hand, managed to hide the truth from their father for 40 years. Imagine! They stood by watching their father being torn apart for Yusuf's loss, but they never felt sorry for him and never thought of confessing. Now you can see where the characteristics we see today come from. Since Yaqub (AS) was aware of his children nature, he told Yusuf (AS) from the very beginning; Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "O my little son, do not narrate your vision to your brothers, (for) then they may plot against you (some) plotting." (TMQ, 12:5). Later on they thought and said, "Indeed Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we, and we are a band. Surely our father is indeed in evident error." (TMQ, 12:8). 'In evident error" here does not mean that his faith is weak or that he is a lunatic but it means that he is not wise. Can you believe that this is said about a prophet?

Don't you ever disrespect your parents, not even once. Never make fun of their behavior or hurt them. Don't ever feel bored of your father or mother's talk and say, “They say the same things over and over again,” because one might say a word that would destroy his life forever. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “One of you might say a word that brings forth the wrath of Allah, and takes him to the deep pits of hell by a distance of seventy years in depth.” (Authentic, narrated by Abu-Huraira, Sunnan Ibn-Majah, 3970).

Satan's steps:

Now we go back to the Ayat in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "As they said, “Indeed Yusuf and his brother are more beloved to our father than we, and we are a band. Surely our father is in evident error. Kill Yusuf …" (TMQ, 12:8-9). Someone might ask, did they think of killing Yusuf (AS) so quickly? Once they found an excuse for getting rid of him (AS) they just said, "Let us kill him." The Qur'an leaves out a span of time to indicate that the action of envying and backbiting the father would continue. However, this span of time is left for you to contemplate the story. Two or three years might have elapsed between the eighth and the ninth Ayat. All this time was spent in hatred and envy. Sins do not just pop out suddenly; there are signs. It might for example start with backbiting, envy or disrespect for parents and then develop into murder.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "and do not ever follow the steps of ash-shaytan; (The all-vicious, i.e., the Devil)." (TMQ, 2:208). One might wonder, could they really think of committing a murder? Can they actually try to carry it out despite the fact that all they really did at the beginning was backbiting? Well, the whole matter just developed until it reached this appalling level. Some young men told me that 10 years ago they would have never thought that one day they would take drugs. Some girls said that they never thought that one day their relationship with boys would go that far. What really happens is that you just take the first step thinking that it will not go any further, but Satan is very smart. He accepts what little sins you give. He might accept a minor sin from you for a year in order to make you stick to it. If he told you from the very first day to take a bribe, for example, you will totally get away from what he wants you to do. However, he is too smart to do that. What he does instead is telling you, “It would not hurt if you took one pound from someone to do him a favor; it is only one pound.” Then the whole thing develops and he gets you fixed on that step for a year. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Kill Yusuf or banish him to some (other) land, that your father’s face may be free (Literally: (void) and empty; i.e., your father will have time for you or pay you more attention (Yusuf out of the way) for you, and even after him you will be a righteous people." (TMQ, 12: 9). Which do you think is more cruel, slaying or casting someone out? Slaying of course, but they want to hurt him by any means. Why would they cast him out? Deep down they were struggling they could not imagine killing him.

At the end of the Ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "… and even after him you will be a righteous people)." (TMQ, 12:9). This means that they had the intention to repent but after finishing off their sin. Do you think this kind of repentance would be accepted? Have you noticed how many years it took them to repent? How can one be so sure that if he made a sin like this one or any other sin against his father that his father might not die before he apologizes to him? Don’t you ever say, "I will do the so and so sin and then repent." This is a well known set up by Satan to let you commit the sin feeling comfortable that you will repent afterwards.

In the next Ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "One (Literally: a speaker) of them said: " Do not Kill Yusuf, and cast him into the unseen (bottom) of the pit, (and) (some) travelers will pick him out, in case you are performing (that)." (TMQ, 12:10). The Surah here portrays the secrets of the human self. Why do you think this brother asked the rest of his brothers not to kill Yusuf (AS) but to throw him into a well instead? He cannot actually imagine killing his brother, but still wants to get rid of him. Thus, he thought of getting rid of him in an indirect way. This eventually led him to hurt his brother in a way that is worse than murder. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "and cast him into the unseen (bottom) of the pit." It is as if that brother was deluding himself when he said, "(and) (some) travelers will pick him out.” What he said was “the (bottom) of the pit” and he knew that this was a place no one could reach, but he did not want to make himself feel guilty or responsible for the murder. This does not mean that Allah (SWT) will favor him with His mercy unlike the rest of his brothers. He too wanted the same end for Yusuf (AS) but in a different way. We use this trick a lot but facing yourself is much better than deceiving it. I hope you take this as an assignment to do after the lecture. I want every one of you to sit with himself, hold a paper and a pen and start writing his faults. If a young man is keen on watching satellite channels which transmit inappropriate or intimate scenes, he should write this down and try to think of a solution; get someone to code those channels. If a girl is involved in a relationship with a young man behind her parents' back, she must tell them; even if this means that they will get angry and make her leave him. She should know that it is not right to deceive her parents. The young man also should know that. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And benignancy is not to come up to the homes from their backs; but benignancy is for man to be pious; and come up to the homes by their doors, and be pious towards Allah, so that possibly you would prosper." (TMQ, 2:189). Would he like it if this happens to his sister? Of course not! What is even more dangerous is the permissive attitude during engagement period between youth because Satan starts then drawing the steps and opening the ways to sin.

Everybody write down the faults and think of how to change them and how to get rid of the bad company. Yusuf's brothers were lost through that way, because of envy, filial disobedience, backbiting their father, not facing themselves with their faults and the evidence is in what Allah (SWT) says that can be translated as, " …and even after him you will be a righteous people)." (TMQ, 12:9). All they did was calm themselves down and try to feel tranquil. Take care of the faults chain, every fault is followed by a chain of faults and never think that you can do a sin without completing this chain, thus al-Hasan al-Basri says, "If you saw a man committing a sin be sure that he makes others." If we followed the chain of sins committed by brothers of Yusuf (AS) we will find the following: envy which led to hatred then lying and murder at the end. If we move to what happens today we will find that one of the chains begins with a bad friend, smoking cigarettes, then shisha (water pipe), then marijuana and afterwards, taking drugs. If you want to cut the sin chain, there are only two ways; repentance and joining a good company.

The steps of getting rid of Yusuf (AS):

Let's go back to the Surah. In this Ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "cast him into the unseen (bottom) of the pit." (TMQ, 12:10). The Arabic word for Ghiabat (unseen bottom) is like the word Ghaib (the unknown) and Ghiba (backbiting) and they are all derived from one root. Ghaiabat (unseen bottom) means that they put him in a place where he could not be seen. Observe the inimitability of the Qur'an; it portrayed in one word how terrible the situation was. By the way the grave is also called Ghaiab because a person inside a grave becomes totally unseen. Now can you imagine what happened to Yusuf (AS), a 12 year old child, when he was thrown into that place? I am addressing those who have been stricken by afflictions; women who lost their children or whose children are ill. Can you imagine the ordeal Yaqub (AS) went through? Can you imagine Yusuf's suffering when he was left in that place? The pit here is different from the normal well we know. It was a very deep well full of snakes and scorpions. Imagine then a 12-year-old boy thrown into such a place. This was the idea of one of his brothers so as to be kind to him and not to kill him! The story, however, did not end here; they also stripped him off his clothes as the Ayah assures, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And they came with false (Literally: lying, a lie) blood on his shirt." (TMQ, 12:18). In addition to his young age he also had a small body; the following Ayah shows that. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "(and) (some) travelers will pick him out." (TMQ, 12:10). Picking him up is an evidence on his small body. Moreover, the surrounding area was full of wild animals and Yaqub (AS) knew that. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as (Yusuf saying), "I fear that the wolf may eat him." (TMQ, 12:13).

After planning their plot, they decided to go to their father; Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "They said, "O our father, how is it with, that you do not keep Yusuf in our custody?" (TMQ, 12:11). Notice that they said, “how is it with, that you do not keep Yusuf in our custody?” When a person lies or conspires to do something wrong somehow he always gives himself away. Here the beauty of the Qur'an is shown in the portrayal of the human self. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "They said, "O our father, how is it with you, that you do not Yusuf in our custody? And surely we are indeed his (honest) advisers. Send him (forth) with us tomorrow to frolic and play; and surely we will indeed be his preservers." (TMQ, 12:11-12). "Frolic and play" is a confirmation from the Qur'an that there is nothing wrong in playing for both children and grown-ups.

[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah :Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[2] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

[3] The Night of Revelation. Usually expected during the last ten day of the month of Ramadan.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:27 AM

Yusuf (AS)3A

I seek refuge in Allah (SWT)[1], the All-Hearing, and All-knowing from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah (SWT), the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We praise Allah (SWT), Lord of the universe. Peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah (SAWS). We praise Allah (SWT), thank Him, and seek His help, guidance, and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah (SWT) from the evil in our souls and the sinfulness of our deeds. "He whom Allah guides, he is rightly-guided; but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no guiding advocate.” (TMQ, 18:17)[2].

We are still discussing the story of Yusuf (AS)[3] (Joseph) and, we need copies of the Qur’an to be with us. It is pointless listening to the story of Yusuf (AS) without having a copy of the Qur’an. Why? There are several reasons: first, you would not be able to follow the story without having a copy. Second, having a copy of the Qur’an makes your interaction with the Ayahs (verses) completely different. Third, and best of all, you can begin to memorize the Surah (chapter) while sitting down and listening attentively. Brothers and sisters, I advise you to maintain a small copy of the Qur’an in your pocket. The copy I refer to is similar to that found in Masjid al-Madinah (The Masjid of al-Madinah city in Saudi Arabia); it is an incredibly beautiful copy. Owning such a pocket size Qur’an results in a continuous companionship, which protects you from sinning, frankly, this connection with the Qur’an, makes it unbecoming of you to commit sins. Furthermore, it is a way to continuously read, and study the Qur’an. Additionally, it establishes a constant bond between you and Allah (SWT). I notice that copies of the Qur’an are available in many Masjids. Beyond doubt, this is a noble task. However, having your copy of the Qur’an in your pocket is better. Being always close at hand, it keeps you reassured and protected. I advise you for the next episode when we say let us open the Qur’an that nobody provides it to you, because every one will, Allah (SWT) willing, bring their own copy. Moreover, if that happens, it will be a great achievement.

Brothers and sisters let us ask a question. Why are we relating the stories of the Prophets? We are relating them for many reasons:

First, we want you to love the Qur’an, a matter achieved only by understanding the meanings of the ayahs. While interacting with the stories of the Prophets, you would love the Qur’an and become more attached to it. While studying the ayahs, you would wonder and ask yourselves why you never understood the Qur’an in such a way! Hence, you will begin to feel a new sweetness towards the Qur’an and you will understand it in a different light.

Second, while studying the stories of the Prophets, you will learn lessons and examples that you can relate to in your life. Today, we will present four main concepts, which every Muslim should know. These meanings will be the core of our discussion. Now, let us begin the story.

I will recapitulate what we talked about a year ago so that people can keep up and know what we are talking about, Yaqub (AS) (Jacob) had twelve sons, ten of whom were from one wife, and two were from a second wife. Yusuf (AS) and his brother Binyamin (Benjamin) who were from the second wife were the youngest while the other ten sons formed an older, strong group. Yaqub (AS) was elderly and began to depend more and more on his ten sons who were adults. They became very responsible for all the work that Yaqub (AS) needed accomplished. However, the two youngest sons, who were from the second wife, were still young. Yaqub (AS) felt more tenderness towards them, as any father or mother would for their youngest children.

I want to draw your attention to an important matter. Did Yaqub (AS) have two wives? Did Ibrahim (AS) (Abraham) have two wives?

The answer is that all Prophets, who were sent before Islam were married to several wives, just like Yaqub (AS) or Ibrahim (AS) who married mistresses Hajar (Hagar) and Sarah. Then, if this is so, why do many people and organizations direct their attacks towards Islam, stating that the Qur’an contains ayahs that talk about polygamy? Has anyone thought of this answer?

I do not want to upset the ladies; we are not urging men to marry twice. We only want to defend Islam and question the people about their many unjust ways of speaking spitefully about Islam in particular.

Yaqub (AS) listened while Yusuf (AS) related to him a dream he had seen. The dream was that he saw eleven stars, the sun, and the moon all-prostrating themselves to him. Yaqub’s interpretation of this dream was that Yusuf‘s brothers would submit to him. Yaqub (AS) himself and his wife (Yusuf’s father and mother were represented as the sun and the moon) would prostrate themselves to him. Yaqub (AS) was a Prophet. Consequently, he was sure that Yusuf (AS) would become a Prophet, because a Prophet only submits to another Prophet. We elaborated on this point last time. I am relating these events in brief so that people who did not attend regularly or who are attending for the first time can follow the story with us.

Yaqub (AS) was sure that Yusuf (AS) would be a Prophet. How old was Yusuf (AS)? He was between nine and twelve years old; he was approaching the age of twelve. His brothers began to plot against him. Why? Because they began to feel that he was very distinguished and felt jealous that Yusuf (AS) should be the object of their father’s affection. It does not mean that Yaqub (AS) was differentiating between his children, may Allah (SWT) forgive us if this is what we thought. This never happened. It is normal for any father who has a young child to feel more tenderness for him. Let us explain this ayah quickly. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Verily, in Yusuf and his brethren, there were ayahs (proofs, evidence, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.) for those who ask.” (TMQ, 12:7).

Who were Yusuf’s brothers? They were the sons of Yaqub (AS). How many were they? They were ten. Does anyone know them? Bear in mind that these ten sons produced the beginning of al-Asbat (the offspring of Yaqub (AS)). Again, who are öal-Asbat? They are the grandfathers of the Jews. The offspring of the Jews descended from these ten sons. Should we be concerned? Do you recognize the moral fiber of those ten, and the product of such fiber? As a result, this fiber is encoded in there genes, and are being inherited. Let us analyze the characteristics of those ten sons. You will discover that they had great malice, great envy and a great feeling of oppression. They were asking, “Why does our father prefer him?” However, the truth of the matter is that no one was preferred. They were all his sons. We will see that Yaqub (AS) loved them all equally. Why did they have such feelings, then? They had a constant inner feeling of oppression. You will discover that the thought of killing occurred to them rapidly and easily. They said, “Kill Yusuf. So, when they took him away and they all agreed.” (TMQ, 12:15).

They all agreed to kill him instantaneously. You will discover how impolite they were when they said, “Really, our father is in a plain error.” (TMQ, 12:8). They talked about their father in such a way; they said plainly, “Our father is in plain error.” They believed that their father was insane, lost, and mentally deteriorating. Do you see why the character of these ten sons, who would be the grandfathers of the Jews, is very important?

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Verily, in Yusuf and his brethren, there were ayahs (proofs, evidence, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.) for those who ask. When they said, “Truly, Yusuf and his brother (Binyamin - Benjamin) are dearer to our father than we, while 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 favor of your father may be given to you alone, and after that, you will be righteous folk (by intending repentance before committing the sin). One from among them said, “Kill not Yusuf, but if you must do something, throw him down to the bottom of a well; he will be picked up by some caravan of travelers.” (TMQ, 12: 7-10).

The kindest one said, “Do not kill Yusuf (AS).” They replied, “Then, what can we do with him?” “Throw him in the bottom of a very deep well.” This brother may have in fact been the worst of them. He did not want to shoulder the responsibility of killing Yusuf (AS), so he urged his brothers to throw him in a very deep well. We spent half an hour last time explaining the word Ghaiabat (unseen matters). This word is mentioned in the Qur’an (Surat Yusuf: 12:10) to depict the condition of the well in which Yusuf (AS) was thrown. Ghaiabat is derived from al-Ghaib (unseen). What does it mean? Al-Ghaib means everything invisible to the eyes. Consequently, jinn, angels, paradise, and hellfire referred to as the unseen world.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Who believe in the Ghaib….” (TMQ, 2:3). The word Ghaiba (backbiting) as well, derived from the word Ghaiabat. Backbiting means talking wrongly about someone behind his or her back. In addition, a grave in the Classical Arabic Language corresponds to Ghaib. When a person is laid in a grave, they become unseen. It was the oldest one who said, “Throw him down to Ghaiabat al-jubb.” ‘Al-jubb’ mentioned in the Qur'an (Surat Yusuf: 12:10) means ‘throw him down a very deep dark well;’ in the Arabic language, there is a difference between jubb and be’er (any normal well). Why the choice of jubb instead of be’er? Because be’er is used when one is talking about any normal well, while jubb is only mentioned when talking about a very deep dark well that is full of serpents, and scorpions. Unbelievable! Hence, if you wanted to talk about a very deep, treacherous, dark well that had no end, you would call it jubb in Arabic. The brother who was against killing Yusuf (AS) said, “Do not kill him, rather, throw him down the bottom of a very deep dark well.” He wanted to relieve his conscience so he said, "he will be picked up by some caravan of travelers.” (TMQ, 12:10).

Whom was he fooling? Do you think that anyone would find Yusuf (AS) after throwing him down the bottom of such a well? They were in the heart of a desert. By the way, they did not throw him in a near well lest that anyone should pick him up and Yusuf (AS) would be able to return to his home. On the contrary, they went deep into the desert and took him to a very faraway place. Yusuf (AS) was only twelve years old then. He would lose his way and would not be able to return. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "One from among them said, kill not Yusuf , but if you must do something, throw him down to the bottom of a well; he will be picked up by some caravan of travelers.” (TMQ, 12:10).

There is an important lesson to learn here. We sometimes try to deceive ourselves, when we want to commit a sin or a crime, by not doing it publicly. However, it is really the same thing, for example, if you do not want to pray Fajr (dawn) on time, though, you feel guilty for not doing so, you would probably set the alarm clock for prayer time, but you would lower its tone, so that you would not be able to hear it. Another example might be that a young man feels that his relationship with a girl is haram (a deed forbidden in Islam). Consequently, he tells her that he will not call her because he feels embarrassed; instead, he asks her to call him. Then, he says to himself, “I am polite; she is the one calling me.”

Brothers and sisters do not deceive yourselves and do not commit the sin of Yusuf's brothers. They wanted to relieve their conscience and avoid killing him with their own hands. Therefore, they committed an act that could have been much worse due to the suffering he would have endured. As a result, Allah (SWT) left them on the wrong path for 40 years because they deceived themselves. You should be true to yourselves. We took some time to talk about this matter in the past episode. When you sin, please, be your own judge; go to your room and take a paper and a pen. Write your faults 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Write down for example, “I slander others.” Write that it will be a disaster if I meet Allah (SWT) with this fault. Write, “I am not lowering my gaze (to avoid looking at forbidden things),” write, “I am deceiving my boss and taking money illegally,” write, “I am lying about my colleague to take over his position.” Be honest with yourself and write every vice you continuously commit. Write everything.

Brothers and sisters, do you know that you sometimes hide your mistakes from people hoping that they may never know them? In fact, you are hiding them from yourselves so that you do not face them. In the end, they will overtake you on the Day of Judgment. Be your own judges, for Allah's sake. Be careful not to commit the sin of Yusuf's brothers. Brothers and sisters, I am not just telling you stories and tales. While I was preparing for the lecture, I asked myself, what benefits could people get from this ayah? Then, I was surprised to come up with the same meaning mentioned in the books of Interpretation of the Qur'an. That is to say, that the ayahs are clear; the insinuations are clear, as if Allah (SWT) wants to send us a message.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Kill Yusuf or cast him out to some (other) land, so that the favor of your father may be given to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending repentance before committing the sin).” (TMQ, 12:9). What is the meaning of “and after that you will be righteous folk?”

They intended to kill and repent at the same time. Do you think Allah (SWT) would accept that? No, for 40 years, their repentance was not accepted. Some people do the same when they say, “This is the last time I am committing this sin, O Lord, and right afterwards I will repent.” Such as, intending to have a rendezvous with some girl and then say it will be for the last time. Hence, if you intend to commit a sin and then repent at the same time, Allah (SWT) will make you forget repentance for 20 or 30 years. This is exactly what happened to Yusuf's brothers. They forgot repentance and strayed from the right path. They could not face their father so they hid the truth from him for 40 years. As a result, their father lived in pain and they kept sinning. Be careful not to commit their sin. Don’t let Satan deceive you into thinking that you may repent later; you will not repent. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “One from among them said: "kill not Yusuf, but if you must do something, throw him down to the bottom of a well; he will be picked up by some caravan of travelers. They said, "O our father! Why do you not trust us with Yusuf though we are indeed his well-wishers?” Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily, we will take care of him." (TMQ, 12:12).

While on the subject, try to always pronounce the name Yusuf rather than Yusef. Even when you are calling someone named Yusuf, you should pronounce it correctly.

When we reached this ayah, "Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play,” we wondered what it meant. It meant that he would be playing and eating as much as he wished. However, does the Qur'an mean the same understanding we have of the word ‘play?’

Is it suitable to mention the word ‘play’ in the Qur’an? Did Prophet Yaqub (AS) tell his sons, “It’s not polite to say that you are going to play?” Do you know what they said? Allah (SWT) mentions their words that can be translated as, “Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily, we will take care of him” (TMQ, 12:12). It is as if it is a picnic! Is it appropriate to mention such things in the Holy Qur'an? Folks, we must try to understand religion as a whole.

Islam embraces rest, relaxation, entertainment, sports and outings, and enjoying one's life too, as long as the person does not disobey Allah (SWT) or do anything that is against His orders. This is proved by mentioning the word ‘play’ in the Holy Qur'an, without commenting afterwards or referring that it was a sinful act, and as Prophet Yaqub (AS) allowed them to go and take Yusuf (AS) with them. Do you know why it was mentioned in the Holy Qur'an? Because it is something very important for youths. Prophet Yaqub's sons were all youth who needed to ‘play’ (i.e. to relax, to be active, to enjoy themselves, and to engage-in sports, etc).

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily, we will take care of him” (TMQ, 12:12). “He (Yaqub) said, “Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away. I fear lest a wolf should devour him, while you are careless of him.” (TMQ, 12: 13). Notice that Prophet Yaqub (AS) mentioned the wolf in this context, because the area where they wanted to play was known to be populated by wolves.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “So, when they took him away and they all agreed to throw him down to the bottom of the well, (they did so) and We revealed to him, ‘Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this (their affair), when they know (you) not.’” (TMQ, 12: 15) This is where we stopped last time, when we suggested trying to imagine Prophet Yusuf (AS). A 12-year-old child took by his elder brothers, while they were hitting and insulting him, and their hearts were full of envy and jealousy. Can you imagine his condition when they took off his shirt, and were searching for a well deep in the desert to throw him naked? Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And they brought his shirt stained with false blood.” (TMQ, 12:18). Can you imagine how tough his affliction was?

Were anyone of you ever subjected to such an affliction? People who cannot be patient, have they witnessed anything harder? They kept delving into the desert; until they found a deep well, where nobody could ever reach. They were sure that even if Yusuf (AS) managed to get out of the well - which was impossible - he would not be able to get out of that far desert or find his way home. Furthermore, they did not even think of lowering him down to the bottom of the well, they plotted to dump him down deep to the very bottom. The words “they threw him” indicate that he might have been killed when he was thrown. Remember that at the bottom of the well, there was water, rocks, snakes and scorpions. Can you imagine the condition of a twelve-year-old child hearing the hissing of these creatures? Can you imagine his pain and fear and how he lived for three days in the fearful, dark, damp well, without any food? How frightening could this be?

Can you see how hard this was for him? Notice that patience is the moral lesson intended here. Prophet Yusuf (AS) went through all this hardship in his life and he was a Prophet. Thus, no matter how hard our lives are, we should be patient and we should hold on to our faith. The adversities you experience throughout your life could not compare to Prophet Yusuf's.

Prophet Yusuf (AS) could not believe what his brothers did to him. Thus, he kept calling for them saying, “You promised father to take care of me.” He started realizing that they were leaving him as he heard their voices fading away. They never answered his calls. How hardhearted and cruel they were! How could ten brothers do this to their youngest brother?

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “and they all agreed to throw him down to the bottom of the well,” (TMQ, 12:15) which clarifies that not even one of them objected to this crime. None of them objected to hurting their brother or even thought about their father, and how this might kill him from grief. How merciless they were! Can there be some Muslims so cruel? Unfortunately, yes. Amongst us, there are people who are as pitiless as Prophet Yusuf's brothers. Take for example, the woman who has not contacted her nephews or nieces for years, after the death of her sister, because of a financial disagreement with them. If she sees them on the street, she would not even recognize them! Unfortunately, there are many people among the Muslims who do not keep kinship ties, and forsaken their families for many years. They do not even recognize their relatives. No wonder the Muslim nation is facing many problems and hardships. We abandoned the fundamental rules of Islam, what else should we expect?

Who is keeping the kinship ties nowadays? We are hearing all the time about people killing their parents, others yelling at their parents, and others treating them badly. Is this how we, Muslims, are supposed to treat our parents? It is common now to find youth making fun of those who respect their parents. After abandoning our fundamentals and violating Islamic commandments, we have become subjugated. However, we are still wondering why our societies are becoming week and fragile.

Allah (SWT) is never unjust to us. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “We wronged them not, but they were the Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers).” (TMQ, 43:76). “This is because of that (evil) which your hands have sent before you. And certainly, Allah is never unjust to (His) slaves.” (TMQ, 3:182).

Now, back to the story. What I will tell you now is not from the Qur'an or the Sunnah (recorded sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)[4]). It is from the books of al-Athar (Tradition). Prophet Yusuf (AS) started calling on his brothers, saying, “O brothers! If you had decided to leave me here, then listen to my will before you leave. When you gather, remember my loneliness; when you eat, remember my hunger; when you drink, remember my thirst; when you see a stranger, remember that I am a stranger here.” He kept calling them hoping that his words would soften their hearts and they would come back and save him. This never happened, as their hearts were so hard. Allah (SWT) then inspired Yusuf (AS) to calm himself down because Allah (SWT) was the one protecting him. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “and We revealed to him, ‘Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.’” (TMQ, 12: 15).

Brothers and sisters, when you face any hardship, calm yourself down and try to get closer to Allah (SWT). You will find that Allah (SWT) is helping you out of your problem and bringing relief to your heart. Thus, Allah (SWT) inspired Yusuf (AS), “Let them go and stop calling them; occupy yourself with dhikr (includes reciting Qur’an, supplication, praising Allah (SWT)); remember me, I am the only one you can depend on.” Thus, Yusuf (AS) started calling on Allah (SWT), Exalted and Glorified be He, and calling Him with this supplication, “O Allah (SWT)! You are the companion of every lonely person; you are the friend of every stranger; O You are the Hearer of secret talk! O You are the savior from calamities!” In fact, I would like to dedicate those words to the simple mother who lost her child, the worn out father running after his living and raising his children, to the person who lost his/her job, to the sick and to all those who are suffering. I like to remind them all to learn from Yusuf (AS), and to return to Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “and We revealed to him, “Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this (their affair), when they know (you) not.” (TMQ, 12: 15). We have to note a very strange point here. Yusuf's grandfather is Ibrahim (AS), who was tested by being thrown into the fire; his grandson (Yusuf (AS)) was tested by being thrown in water. It is as if Allah (SWT), be He Exalted and Glorified, wants us to learn a very important meaning, that He tests whoever He wants with whatever means He wants. Allah (SWT) may test a father and a son with two opposite means! Nevertheless, both are patient and are connected to Allah (SWT). Paradoxes of fate let you recognize that everything depends on Allah's will.

Now let us move to the next ayah. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And they came to their father in the early part of the night weeping.” (TMQ, 12:16). The core of this ayah focuses on a psychological significance. Actually, psychologists need to take note from this ayah. The ayah mentions that they went to their father at night. What is the importance of mentioning the timing ‘night?’ Does this make a difference? The Holy Qur'an does not mention any thing insignificant. They chose to go to their father at night to avoid eye contact with him. They knew their eyes would disclose everything, and their father would find out that they were lying. Hence, they had to wait until night, so that their eyes would not meet his eyes! According to psychology, facial expressions and eye looks disclose the truth, no matter how skillfully he/she might be lying. This is how Allah (SWT) created us; it is part of our Fitrah (innate nature).

Although they committed a horrible crime, i.e. murder, they had no courage to face their father at noon. What can we benefit from this? We can figure out the pure Fitrah of some of the youths who think that when they lie they are naive, because their faces always tell the truth. They are not naive; in fact, they have pure intact Fitrah. A girl who could lie to her parents for two whole years, and is secretly involved in orfi marriage (customary and unregistered marriage), while her face or eyes never revealed the truth, has a defective Fitrah. Hence, every person can assess himself/herself. Those who are good at lying are the ones who should worry. They could be worse than Prophet Yusuf’s brothers who still could not lie with their eyes or faces. However, why couldn't they? Because their Fitrah still had some of its purity.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And they came to their father in the early part of the night weeping.” (TMQ,12:16) Weeping? Weren't they supposed to be feigning weeping? Why didn't the Holy Qur'an mention this? Were they really feeling sorry? Why were they really crying? They believed their own lie until they started to pity Yusuf (AS). It was dark at night, their faces and eyes were not clear. They started reacting emotionally to what they made up in the first place. They told their father that the wolf ate Yusuf (AS) and started crying, saying that they were sorry for what had happened to him.

This reminds me of something very significant: a man called Ala'mash, one of the Tabi`een (second generation of Muslims after the Prophet’s) was visiting a well-known Islamic judge called Shoraih. A woman came to the judge to complain of another woman, and she kept crying while she was talking to him. Shoraih started interrogating her while she was crying, without realizing her tears. Ala'mash then stopped him saying, “Stop questioning her, can’t you see her tears?” Shoraih replied saying, “No, I swear by Allah (SWT)! Yusuf's brothers went home crying after throwing him in the well, and they were liars. Thus, do not judge people with anything other than justice.” There is a very important message in this story: never judge people by their tears; judge only by facts and reality. We see many parents who do not blame their children or punish them for their mistakes, just because those children start crying. In the end, such children grow up to be spoiled or corrupted teenagers and adults. Surat Yusuf teaches us all a very important life lesson.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “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.” (TMQ, 12:17). This ayah transfers us to the issue of practicing sport. Throughout the Qur’an, you can extract a great deal of treasures. The word ‘racing’ in Arabic does not only mean running, rather, it includes all kinds of competitions: riding horses, throwing arrows, playing football, etc. I do not mean, “Let’s play all day long.” I just want to clarify in this context that Islam embraces self entertainment and practicing sports. Do not look at Islam from a narrow viewpoint. Islam does not mean that we should stay in the Masjid all day long, praying without doing anything else in life. This is not right. We need to succeed in all fields of life, even sports. We do not need youth who have no skills in anything. You have to gain a skill, learn a language. Try to be a good Muslim. Try to learn the Qur'an. Thus, we can prove the word ‘racing’ and apply it. Prophet Yaqub (AS) did not object to it when his sons said it.

The brothers told their father that the wolf ate Prophet Yusuf (AS), because they knew he would believe this story, as he already feared that would happen.

“We were going to have a race, father, and we told Yusuf (AS) to wait by our clothes, but just as you feared, the wolf ate him.” They said so to sound plausible. Imagine what they said after that, “but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth” (TMQ, 12:16). Notice their use of the word ‘even;’ what do you think? Are they speaking the truth or lying? Of course, they are lying; they are confessing that ‘even when telling the truth, you would not believe us.’ Do you know the saying, ‘A guilty conscience needs no accuser?’ The one who knows himself to be guilty is about to say, “I am the one who has done it.” That is how they have unconsciously exposed themselves, as if Allah (SWT) wants to tell you that however skilled you are when you lie, you will definitely fail. Notice how the whole ayah describes how their lie was perfectly woven. However, the final part of the ayah shows you that they were exposed, “but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth.”

Another part of the ayah reveals their impoliteness with their father when they imply that he always doubts their doings. Imagine that someone speaks that way with his father; I know that some boys and girls do so. They say to their parents, “You always think that we will do something wrong!” This is because they are indeed going to do something wrong and their parents have a better understanding of their manners. However, they keep putting pressure on their parents, in order to stop them from asking, “Where are you going?” or “Where were you?” They just keep repeating these sentences. First, be honest with your parents, and then question them. Your actions are what led them to believe that you are lying to them and deceiving them. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "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” (TMQ, 12:17).

Ayah number 18 which can be translated as, “And they brought his shirt stained with false blood,” (TMQ, 12:18) reveals a very important meaning for us. First, they “brought his shirt stained,” this is their second mistake; they brought the shirt to their father stained but not torn! Not only are they unskillful liars, but also losers! They took Yusuf's shirt from him without tearing it; slew a goat, and stained the shirt with its blood. Afterwards, they went to their father weeping, “Father, behold this evidence.” Nevertheless, Yaqub (AS) examined the shirt and said, “How kind is that wolf who ate my son without touching his shirt!” Yaqub (AS) figured out their trick, did he not? Notice how clever a true believer should be; a believer must be quick-witted not naïve. A true believer is not like what many may think. I say so because I know that some young men are afraid of becoming religious because they think that a religious person is someone to laugh at because of his humbleness, someone you can mock by saying, “Hey, old man!” or “Hey, you, religious brother!” just because he is religious. However, they cannot think that a true religious person is quick-witted, successful, humorous, clever, or successful at his work. A true believer knows how things are going, he is not a person you can deceive or mock. This is the true believer.

Therefore, the minute he saw the shirt, he knew they were lying, and said something, which covertly implies scorn, “How kind is that wolf who ate my son without touching his shirt!” He wanted to tell them, “You are lying.” However, why do you think he did not say that in a direct way? I mean, why didn't he accuse them of lying blatantly? This is because Yaqub (AS) is an educator. Had he directly confronted them with their lie, he would have broken many important things inside them and would have inflamed their hatred towards their brother, right? Therefore, he did not want to throw this word at them but he kept implying it.

Here is a piece of advice I want to give to all mothers and fathers; to the mother who teases her son with a sin he has committed, whenever he behaves in a way that she dislikes, saying, “Do you remember when you did so and so?” She is destroying her son from within. If she really were an educator, she would have overlooked his lie and given him a hint about it, just like Yaqub (AS) did. In fact, I want you to examine how Islam tackles important issues like raising one's children; see how we infer new meanings with every reading of the Qur'an? Yaqub (AS) does not want to destroy his sons; he does not want to insult them by saying that they are lying, because he does not want them to defy him by blatantly confessing their sin and saying, “Ok, yes, we are lying, and what are you going to do about it?” He does not want them to go that far. Do not ever pressure your children by exposing their lie. Except in extreme cases, when your son insists on lying, this method would not work. Nevertheless, you must learn how to treat your children, so, in the end you must pretend that you have not noticed and use hints. That is what we learn from Yaqub (AS).

Notice the phrase, “false blood,”[5] “And they brought his shirt stained with false blood” (TMQ, 12: 17). What does that mean? Is there truthful blood and lying blood? No. Then why was the phrase, ‘false blood’ used? Because lying is so rotten, that it spreads and smears everything, until the blood itself is about to say, “I am a lie, I am not the truth, I am fake.”

Brothers and sisters beware of lying! This is the lesson we want to learn today. Stay away form lying; do not build your life around a pack of lies. How many times have you lied this past week? Try to remember, how many? The Prophet (SAWS) says, “The person who keeps telling lies and endeavors to tell a lie.” Do you know what is meant by ‘endeavors?’ It means that such a man would think how to perfect his lie, like some people who master lying and are pleased when they fool others. The Prophet (SAWS) meant those people when he said, “The person who keeps telling lies and endeavors to tell a lie is recorded as a liar with Allah (SWT).”[6] You are proceeding on the path described in this Hadith. Therefore, when you are called upon to stand before Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment, you will be surprised when the angels call you a liar. Would you like to be a liar when you meet Allah (SWT)? Brother and sisters, can you tell me how many times you have lied this week? Ask yourselves, have I lied this week or not? Do not say, “I lied small and trivial lies!”

You must know that the vicious manner of lying leads to other sins. Therefore, if you stop lying, you will consequently stop other sins. Take for example, if a fourteen-year-old boy smokes cigarettes behinds his father's back, his father might beat him up if he finds out. What do you think the boy would say if his father asks him whether he smokes? If the boy is honest, he must give up smoking right away. Another man is betraying his wife; consequently, he will start to lie. See how lying can spread into everything! Any disaster must start with a lie, or be covered by one. Therefore, this man does not have many options; he must choose, either to destroy his marriage, and stop this malicious affair, or to be a liar. I want to address all the people who build up their sins upon lies, after what you have heard today, what do you intend to do? Are you going to continue being liars? Are you going to keep your relation with your parents suspended because of a lie? Are you going to continue to lie?

My real fear, my brothers and sisters, is that what I say becomes mere words that come and go. I beg you; do not let all the efforts done in this work go in vain. You came all the way and sat in the hot weather just to listen to these words. Muslims are weary of listeners; we have had enough. The condition of Islam is deteriorating day after day, because Muslims are good listeners but to no avail. Masjids are crowded with people, but when it comes to tangible actions, you find nothing or very little. To all the brothers and sisters who came here, we have to move on; we have to insist on doing something. I do not say you have to change everything you have learnt here, but believe me, if you only change one thing at a time, it will be enough. Let us unite on a promise now, if any of us is building their life around a lie, or persisting in doing a sin and forgetting about it by lying, let them repent from lying today. You will see they will have to give it up eventually, when they see that their life is being shattered. Let us all pray to Allah (SWT) to bless us all with truthfulness.

“And they brought his shirt stained with false blood.” (TMQ, 12: 18). I swear! This word really hurts me. Imagine that the blood says, “I am a liar.” See the marvelous Qur'anic expression! “And they brought his shirt stained with false blood. He said, "Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert” (TMQ, 12: 18). Notice the distance between “they brought his shirt stained with false blood” and “Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale.” In between the two, they must have related their story to which Yaqub (AS) gave this reply. There is no doubt that Yaqub's tears started to fall, he was in deep pain, and of course, he started to yell at them demanding an explanation for what has happened.

Paradoxically, we cannot find in the Qur'an any reference to this long conversation. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it gives you space to imagine how things have proceeded, for example, “throw him down to the bottom of a well.” (TMQ, 12: 10). Has anyone told you what happened inside the bottom of the well? No, but the phrase ‘the bottom of a well’ frees your imagination and makes your mind think of what might have happened. As if the beauty of Qur'an lies in giving the spectator a chance to imagine and interpret things, watch them come true, and know how smart he is. Narrative scholars confirm that this type of narration is what makes the best kind of drama for a movie or a television series. Imagine that this is exactly what the Qur'an does with you; it tells you about the incident with emphases on beneficial details, so that you think and try to guess how things went on. Therefore, Yaqub (AS) keeps on asking them about what has happened, and finally, he says, “Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting” (TMQ, 12: 18).

Let me ask you, do you think that it is reasonable that Yaqub (AS) would let the matter end this easily? Put yourself in his shoes, and imagine that this matter has happened to your son; would you respond, ‘patience is most fitting’ and say no more? Of course, not, you would turn things upside-down; you would set off to search for him yourself. Then, why did not Yaqub (AS) do so? What is the problem? Note that there is a very crucial meaning here, Yaqub (AS) is not only a father, but he is also a Prophet and an educator. Therefore, firstly, does he know whether Yusuf (AS) is alive or dead? He knows that he is alive. How? He knew from the ro'ya (visions and dreams of Prophets and true believers that come true). It is already settled; Yusuf (AS) will become a Prophet, so Yusuf (AS) must be alive. Even without the stained shirt, or without their saying that he is dead, he knew that they were lying because he had seen it in the vision. All right, so he knows that Yusuf (AS) is alive, why does not he search for him? He feared for Yusuf's life, because he thought that if his brothers were hiding him, they might do something worse. They are not capable of killing him, because of the vision, but they can hurt him. Therefore, he feared that if he started to insist on acting, while they were still full of hate and fury, he might cause his son even more pain.

In fact, some parents may irrationally act out of impulses of emotions, but notice how calm Yaqub (AS) was and how he used his mind. Notice also how the Qur'an broadens your mind. Think about it: if I go to search for him, and they get the feeling that I am attached to him, to the extent of looking for him everywhere, their defiance may increase. Why can't I go straight and accuse them of lying? We said before that this option is not valid, because he did not want to break them by declaring that they are liars. Why didn't he take revenge? This is also not possible, because their crime was a heavy blow to him, nothing compares to what they have done. He cannot throw them out, or beat them. In addition, Yaqub (AS) did not want to lose all his twelve sons, do you get the picture? Because by expelling them, first, he would send them to wander and thus destroy them. Second, he would lose any hope of regaining Yusuf (AS). He was not weak, never. He was only being realistic. He knew that his ten sons were strong, and that they were doing all the work, while he was helpless and old. Can you imagine how hard it must have been? Do you see how he ended up, as he grew old?

To the young: have mercy on your parents, and do not be like Yaqub's ten sons. I swear I have been trying for a long time to express this meaning. Yaqub (AS) is not weak. He just does not know what to do. Many mothers come to me frustrated and crying because their sons have begun drinking or taking drugs. Such a mother feels weak and does not know what do to help her child. To you, brother and sister, who have turned your mother into a weak person, remember that twenty years from now, you will shed the same tears because your children will do the same thing to you and you will be shattered from within. Yaqub (AS) is neither weak nor negative. The matter was out of his hands, because if he did anything, it would only worsen things more. If he takes revenge on his sons by expelling them, he would lose all twelve of them. If he confronts them with their lies, he would only break them, and would not benefit the least from doing so. Moreover, if he goes to look for Yusuf (AS), it would only provoke their rage and they could hurt him even more. Therefore, he decided to do what was in his power, and what was that? “So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.” I urge you with your love for Allah (SWT); have mercy on your parents. The girl who has a boyfriend behind her father's back, or against his will: have mercy on your father. The young man who drinks and fails every year in his exams, and his parents are very shattered, or the one who thinks that he has become stronger than his mother and father, and whose parents are incapable of controlling fearing that he might beat them or insult them. Have mercy on your parents. Imagine the aching heart of such a father.

Go and kiss the hands of your parents. Make up with them today, please them and pat them, so that your children take care of you after you age. As time passes by, harshness increases. If you treat your parents harshly now, you will encounter in the future those who will mistreat you and make you shed tears of blood for the tears you make your parents shed now. Those who treat their parents in this way should go now and kiss their heads. I swear, when you kiss their hands you will feel the sweetness of Iman (faith) in your heart. You will feel a new sweetness, as if you have been praying for ten years. Please your parents, people, please your parents. Do not put your parents in the situation of Yaqub (AS).

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “So (for me) patience is most fitting” (TMQ, 12:18). Contemplate these words, “patience is most fitting.” Is there a fitting patience? Earlier in this same ayah, Allah (SWT) said what can be translated as, “false blood,” (TMQ, 12:18), but now He says “most fitting patience.” Is there a befitting and a non-befitting patience? What is a fitting patience? Yaqub (AS) will not just be patient. Can you imagine how difficult the situation of Yaqub (AS) was? Note that I am telling the story and analyzing the characters for you. I want you to go deep into these characters. Why did Yaqub (AS) talk about the “most fitting patience” then? It was as if he wanted his children to bear in mind how they treated Yusuf (AS). Nevertheless, show them that he would neither yell at their faces nor treat them badly nor wear a long face. Instead, he wanted them to know that he would treat them with mercy. Imagine the meaning of “most fitting patience;” patience without boredom, without complaint, without despair of Allah's mercy. Can you, the afflicted person, be patient like Yaqub (AS)? Can you, the bereaved mother, have a “most fitting patience?” The story of Yaqub (AS) is for those who are enduring affliction. That is why scholars say, “Allah (SWT) alleviates any distressed who reads Surat Yusuf.” Who has a calamity like Yaqub's and Yusuf's?

Note that we have made a shift to Yaqub (AS), and that at this time Yusuf (AS) was still in the well. Imagine Yaqub's situation. He was living amidst all these events, while Yusuf (AS) was still in the darkness of the well, where he had been for three days, in the middle of serpents and scorpions, naked, and calling for his departing brothers saying, “Give me back my shirt to shroud myself with if I die, or to protect myself with if I live.” Can you imagine Yusuf's and Yaqub's situation? Be patient. What you undergo are minor afflictions. Who is dearer to Allah (SWT)? Is it you or Yaqub (AS)? Nevertheless, he was afflicted more than you were, so why do you say that Allah (SWT) is certainly angry with you when an affliction befalls you? Was Allah (SWT) angry with Yaqub (AS) and Yusuf (AS)?

When Allah (SWT) afflicts you with a calamity, this does not mean that He hates you. On the contrary, Allah (SWT) may afflict you because He loves you. How can this be? If you commit a sin and die, you will go to hellfire. However, Allah (SWT) loves you. He does not want you to go to hellfire. Therefore, He gives you the opportunity to withstand a few hard days in the worldly life in order to go to heaven. Which would be better: the hardships of the worldly life or those of the hereafter? Allah (SWT) may afflict you in order to spare you from abashment on the Day of Judgment. He knows that you will enter heaven, but because you still have sins, you will be abashed when Allah (SWT) calls you on the Day of Judgment saying, “Ya ‘abdi (my slave), did you think little of meeting Me?” You will surely go to heaven, but Allah (SWT) does not even want you to look abashed on that day. Allah (SWT) wants you to raise your head up high and say, “O Allah (SWT), I committed sins, yet this particular calamity purified me.”

Allah (SWT) may also afflict you because He does not want you to go only to heaven, but to Jannat al-Firdaws (the seventh and loftiest paradise). Nevertheless, if your good deeds are few, you will never be able to reach Jannat al-Firdaws even if you were to worship Him for sixty years. That is why Allah (SWT) wants to purify your heart, and He gives you the opportunity to enter Jannat al-Firdaws. To achieve that, He will afflict you, but you have to be patient. Sometimes, Allah (SWT) may afflict a father or mother by the death of their children. However, we keep wondering: how can Allah (SWT) afflict them and love them at the same time? The reason is that when the son dies, the mother will do good deeds on his behalf as long as she lives. On the other hand, had he stayed alive, he would not have done all these good deeds, and therefore, his deeds would not have been enough to grant him forgiveness and access to Jannat al-Firdaws. Moreover, the good deeds of the mother, who strongly worshipped Allah (SWT) on behalf of her son, will make her reach an extraordinarily high level of worship. Therefore, she will enter Jannat al-Firdaws along with her children and husband. Thus, Allah (SWT) is pleased with this family. That is why He does not want them to enter the bottom of heaven, but he wants them to be in Jannat al-Firdaws.

Have patience in calamities. Sometimes Allah (SWT) afflicts you to ask, “Is it not time for you to get rid of your arrogance and subject yourself to me? How long will you be that proud and arrogant? Feel that you are `abd (slave) to Allah (SWT). Feel the power of worship. Don’t you want to feel this?” All right, then Allah (SWT) will make you suffer. That is the reason why you should never ever say that you would not make dua'a (supplication) to Allah (SWT) when a calamity befalls you. Never wonder whether it is reasonable to make dua'a while afflicted. Allah (SWT) afflicts you to have you make dua'a. When some students have exams, they decide not to start making their prayers at that point, in fear that they would be taken to be hypocrites. Allah (SWT) sends you such opportunities to worship Him. It is a shame to disobey Allah (SWT) after that; although, you return to Allah (SWT) when you face a problem. That was my comment on “most fitting patience.”

Afterwards, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought,” (TMQ, 12:18), to stress the fact that one would never be able to have patience without seeking help from Allah (SWT). In other words, there is neither worship nor patience without His help. Without Allah (SWT), we are nothing. Even patience without Allah (SWT) is nothing. Let me ask you a question. Which do you think is better, to be patient for the sake of Allah (SWT) or to be patient by the help of Allah (SWT)? To be patient by the help of Allah (SWT) means that it is “Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought.” Which is higher in position? A scholar once said a very nice thing, “No one can be patient for the sake of Allah (SWT), unless one seeks help from Him.” In other words, you cannot be patient for the sake of Allah (SWT) without seeking help from Him Alone.

We can seek refuge in no one except Allah (SWT). Look at this gathering in which we sit now. I swear by Allah (SWT), today’s gathering may be more precious than the whole week, as angels always assemble in such gatherings, and Allah (SWT) says, “I hold you witnesses, my angels, that I forgave them all.” Above the head of every one of us sitting here, there is an angel saying, “May Allah forgive him/her, may Allah have mercy on him/her.” This is according to the following Hadith narrated by Abu-Huraira, Allah's Apostle said, “The angels keep on asking Allah's forgiveness for anyone of you, as long as he is at his Mu’salla (praying place) and he does not make Hadath (break wind). They say, 'O Allah! Forgive him, O Allah! Be Merciful to him.’”[7]

Can you imagine? I swear by Allah (SWT), who is the only One that has the right to be worshipped, that there is, above the head of each one of us in this gathering, an angel saying, “May Allah (SWT) forgive him/her, may Allah (SWT) have mercy on him/her.” Do you believe it? Do you testify and have faith in Allah (SWT)? Do we have anyone to seek refuge in except Allah (SWT)? The help of Allah (SWT) Alone can be sought in this worldly life until we pass away. “Allah Alone Whose help can be sought.” What a beautiful sentence! Then, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And it is Allah alone Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe,” (TMQ, 12:18), this clearly shows that Allah (SWT) knows that they are liars.

By the way, since we are discussing the meaning of “most fitting patience”, it is said in al-Athar (tradition) that Jibril (AS) (Gabriel) went to Yaqub (AS) after his eyebrows had fallen down and he had lost sight, and asked him why he had reached such a state. Yaqub (AS) answered, “This is the effect of time and of the numerous sorrows.” Then, Allah (SWT) asked Yaqub (AS) though revelation, “Do you complain about Me to someone else other than Me?” Yaqub (AS) replied, “I have sinned, so forgive me Allah (SWT).” He said, “I am wrong,” because he complained just once, while we wonder, all day long, why does Allah (SWT) do such and such to us, and what have we done to deserve that? Imagine, throughout the whole forty years, Yaqub (AS) complained just once by saying that what had caused him to suffer was ‘time and the numerous sorrows.’

Yaqub (AS) suffered for forty years! During those forty years, his son was lost! Who has calamities that are more painful? Be patient. Note that so far we have learnt two lessons out of four: to be patient, and not to lie. The third is, “It is Allah Alone Whose help can be sought.”

Let us go back to the well. In the next ayah one feels that the scenes are moving from one place to another. “And there came a caravan of travelers and they sent their water-drawer, and he let down his bucket (into the well).” (TMQ, 12:19). Yusuf (AS) was in the well at that moment, and a caravan of travelers was going from al-Shaam (a region roughly comprising Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan) to Egypt. The question now is, what made them cross the furthest desert? The reason is that they had lost their way. Who made them lose their way? It is Allah (SWT). There are things that happen in your life and which you regard as evil. However, by such incidents, Allah (SWT) may aim the mercy of another human being, while you do not know. Glory be to Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) may make someone commit a mistake in order to save someone else.

There is a story that someone I trust told me. It is the story of a father who traveled leaving behind his wife, a young child and an infant. The infant had a very grave fever and was about to die. The mother had no money left, except fifty piaster (Egyptian pence). Therefore, she thought she would certainly lose her son, as no doctor would accept to examine him for fifty piaster! At 2.00a.m., there was someone knocking at the door. She wondered who could be knocking at that late hour, while her husband was away. She opened the door and found someone saying, “I am the doctor, where is the patient?” She was stunned and took him to examine the infant. He gave her the medicine and reassured her that the infant would be fine in the morning. While he was leaving, the mother was still amazed, so she asked him for the reason that made him come to her house. “Is this not apartment number 26?” he asked. She replied that it was apartment number 25! Glory be to Allah (SWT) who made someone ill in the apartment next door to atone for his sins, while he must have been wondering, “Why did you make me ill Allah (SWT)?” Well, it was to have mercy on someone next-door. Glory be to Allah (SWT) who made the doctor's hand miss the correct door and knock on the next one. In whose hand is the command? Who is the Owner of this universe?

“And there came a caravan of travelers and they sent their water-drawer.” (TMQ, 12:19). The water-drawer is the person whose job it is to draw water out of the well. They stayed away and sent him to draw water out of that distant well. A great thing was there in that well. The water-drawer “let down his bucket (into the well)” (TMQ, 12:19). He kept lowering his bucket. Look how the Qur’an describes the scene. We almost imagine them with accompanying music. Do you see how emotive the Qur’an is?

While he was lowering the bucket, he suddenly felt that something heavy had clung to the bucket, so he started pulling it up. He found the most beautiful boy that man has ever seen. He said, “What good news!” (TMQ, 12:19). He said, “What good news!” not “O, my good news.” What is the difference? “What good news” means that he was so happy that he seemed to call happiness itself. Look at how splendid the Qur'anic vocabulary is! The Qur'an wants to illustrate how happy he was.

The Qur'an is full of treasures. In twenty years from now, we might have someone in this same place telling the same story, but pointing to completely new meanings. The Qur'an renews itself. The more you cite it, the more meanings you find. There is a dua'a that I love to say, which is, “May Allah (SWT) make the Qur'an our companion in life and our enchantment in the grave.” To me, the Qur’an is ‘a companion’ in the sense that the more we read it, the more it reveals its secrets and astonishes us. Look at how happy the attendants of this gathering are. Imagine the pleasure you will get when you sit with the Qur'an and know its secrets! Glory be to Allah (SWT) who grants success to whomever and however He pleases.

He said, “What good news! Here is a boy.” A boy, so how old was he? He was between the ages of twelve and fourteen. The Qur'an implies how old he was because boyhood does not exceed fourteen years. Nevertheless, he was most likely twelve years old, as the Qur’an relates, “So they hid him as merchandise (a slave).” (TMQ, 12:19). Who hid him? Was it the water-drawer or the caravan travelers?

[1] SWT= Subhanahu Wa Ta`ala [Most glorified most high].

[2] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah: Chapter) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[3] AS= Alayhi-Salam [Peace be upon him].

[4] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

[5] The original Arabic word used in the Qur'an is an inflexion of 'lie'.

[6] Authentic Hadith narrated by Muslim.

[7] From Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 436.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:28 AM

Yusuf – 4A:

In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We praise Allah, thank Him, and seek His help, guidance and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil in our souls and the sinfulness of our deeds. "He whom Allah guides, he is the rightly guided; but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no guiding advocate".

(Story of Yusuf continued)

“And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him, and she closed the doors and said: "Come on, O you." He said: "I seek refuge in Allâh! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my living in great comfort! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zâlimûn (wrong and evil-doers) will never be successful." (TMQ, 12:23).[1]

These two ayahs are extremely important since the main reasons nowadays that lead to displeasing Allah (SWT) and entering Hell stem from the temptations posed by women to men and vice versa. These temptations are the main reasons behind committing Kaba’ir (major sins) and the refusal of women and girls to wear Hijab (head cover) or to abide by Islamic teachings. The Prophet (PBUH) knew this and talked about it 1400 years ago. You should never presume that Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) words and teachings are outdated because he knew your problems better than any other man and his teachings and words are applicable until the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women."[2]

Unfortunately, this problem not only faces single young people but also married couples. We hear of many disastrous affairs occurring in international companies where the atmosphere allows employees of both genders to easily and constantly socialize and interact. Therefore, these temptations require the need to listen and understand the story of prophet Yusuf (PBUH), the need to train yourself to resist sins and to strengthen your faith, the need to make a lot of du’aa (supplication) and the need to constantly strengthen your bond with Allah.

Divorce rates have tremendously increased in Islamic societies, whether they are secular or extremely conservative.

Back to ayah 23. Let us consider the temptation factors mentioned in this ayah, and at the same time question ourselves about whether we could face all these temptations and yet resist as Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) did:

Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) was;

1) A young man.

2) He had reached his 30s and was still a bachelor.

3) He was a servant, i.e. the punishment he would receive if he was caught would be half of that of a person in a higher social class because such acts were expected from servants but not from other people with higher social status.

4) He was a foreigner in the country he resided in, and his family could not see him. (Nowadays there are people who travel overseas to commit sins thinking no one is watching.)

5) He was a very handsome man

6) He was a strong man “And when he [Yûsuf] attained his full manhood…” (TMQ, 12:22).

Al-Aziz’s wife:

* She was a beautiful woman…. (It’s highly doubted that the Al-Aziz would marry an average looking woman).

* She came from a high social background…(there are some people whose hearts beat with lust from a mere glimpse of any woman riding a stunning car, regardless of her appearance)
* She had been trying to seduce Yusuf (PBUH) for a long time. (It was not a short time—half an hour or so—but it was around 7-10 years; in other words, since Yusuf (PBUH) became a young man up until the moment she told him "Come on, O you.". Remember, he was raised in Al-Aziz’s house and lived there for 20 years so her seduction was gradual. The word rawadathu (sought to seduce him) implies this as well and also indicates that she is a woman who knows how to deal well with men.
* They were both in her house; therefore committing the sin was very easy (some young men cannot commit sins because there is no place available for them to do so, whereas in this situation this obstacle did not exist).

No young man can face such temptation with all those coexisting factors. So those young men and women who say there are too many temptations around us (satellite channels or the Internet) should take these facts into consideration and resist such temptations. You must firmly believe that you can resist and that Allah will judge you for your ability to resist. When you watch those satellite channels that broadcast prohibited programs or when you browse through pornographic websites, you gradually think that this is how all societies are, and that the real world is lead by lust. Moreover, you will think that all women are as depicted in these programs or sites. Therefore, you begin to change your views and your values and eventually you become the real loser.

Just imagine how many sins your eyes commit everyday! I say to those who do not have the opportunity of watching satellite channels and the internet you should thank Allah that He has protected you from such temptations and sins.

The commitment of such a sin is truly tragic and greatly displeases Allah, therefore you must resist. Reading Surat Yusuf helps you do that. Had prophet Yusuf (PBUH) done this sin, he would have been safe from any scandal because the doors were securely locked. What would you have done if you were in his place? I know some youth who were exposed to similar temptations and successfully resisted:

* A young man, barely 21 years old and from a well-off family was studying German in a foreign language education institute. A young lady studying with him offered herself to him, just like Al-Aziz’s wife did to the prophet Yusuf (PBUH). All he said to her was, “Go away! Go away! I seek refuge in Allah from the evil Satan”. She got scared and left, disbelieving that a young man could reject her.

* A modest carpenter went to a client’s apartment to do a job there. The lady of in the apartment was like Al-Aziz’s wife and since he was strong and handsome, she tried to seduce him. He refused, so she pulled out a knife and threatened to kill him. He closed his eyes and recited Al Shahada (declaration of faith). When he did that she screamed and threw him out of the apartment.

Women can lose their minds when facing similar situations, which is also what happened to Al-Aziz’s wife when she tore prophet Yusuf’s (PBUH) shirt, as we will see later on. There are many other people who faced the same temptations as prophet Yusuf (PBUH) and were rewarded similarly for their good deeds. So would you like to be joined with prophet Yusuf (PBUH) on the Day of Judgment and with those people who resisted such temptations?

How could a young girl call a young man on the phone to arrange a date? Would you then say “I seek Allah’s refuge”, just like Yusuf (PBUH) did? Would people say that when watching illicit programs on satellite channels? How about the young girls who marry without their parents’ knowledge or consent? Or how about those who walk in the street holding hands with their boyfriend, or allow them to put their arms around them? Don’t they realize how much they have degraded themselves? Can such ladies relate themselves to Omar or Abu-Bakr or consider themselves the descendants of Khadijah or Aisha?

When we previously analyzed the reasons that lead Al-Aziz’s wife to seduce prophet Yusuf (PBUH), we came up with two main reasons:

1- She had too much spare time since she did nothing [such as work inside or outside her home].

2- Daily exposure and contact with prophet Yusuf (PBUH) gave her frequent the opportunity to commit the sin.

Hence, I would also like to stress an important issue; I would like to warn married couples from the consequences of spending time on the phone or at work talking to colleagues of the opposite sex discussing matters not related to work. Some people even get annoyed and wonder why their partners question them or get jealous from such behavior. This does not mean the prohibition of interaction between males and females. Islam permits such interaction since the prophets and sahaba did so; however, this is allowed within certain conditions. For example:

1- Between workmates, conversation is permitted about work but no more than that.

2- Between colleagues at a university, the interaction is also permitted because occasionally there are group assignments that entail the interaction of both sexes. However, instances such as a male borrowing study notes from a female when those notes are with other males are not acceptable since the interaction is not necessary.

3- A visiting female relative is another case where conversation is permitted but in a decent and respectful manner.

Therefore, interaction is allowed, but it must be within in a specific framework and only when necessary. Without these two aspects, it is not permissible. A girl cannot relate to a boy on the presumption that he is like a brother and so they share a friendship. Allah says in the Qur’an what can be translated as, "Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: Women and sons…" (TMQ, 3:14) Therefore, such relationships will definitely mean emotions will develop within at least one of the two people involved. Most young people say their emotions developed after such presumptions. However, Allah knows all, He (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Not taking paramours" (TMQ, 4:25). Therefore, it is not permitted to have a friend from the opposite sex. These words apply to workingwomen even more than to female students.

The Prophet (PBUH) conversed with women and he asked for a tent to be set up for female nurses to cure the injured sahaba during battles. For example, this happened when he ordered a tent to be built for the nurse Rofaida to treat the injured sahabi (companion of the Prophet) Saad Ibn-Mo’az during the battle of Al-Khandaq (the trench). Another example of the correct behavior when conversing with the opposite sex is in the story of Prophet Musa (PBUH) with the two girls waiting at the well for water, keeping their distance from the gathered men. Remember he was a prophet; a noble and honorable man. He approached the two ladies and asked, "…He said: ‘What is the matter with you?’ They said: ‘We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take back (their flocks): And our father is a very old man.’ " (TMQ, 28:23). As can be seen very few words were said (without getting into details about who they were, their names etc.). He then got the water and, because his presence was no longer necessary, he left. “So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade” (TMQ, 28:24). Therefore, you can talk to a woman but within limits because women are more emotional and are easily affected by talk than men. Many stable families are lost because of needless interaction with the opposite sex. I am not saying to walk into your office without greeting your colleagues, but make your conversation closer to deen (religion) and absolutely necessary while keeping your manners and good conduct in tact.

Another point to stress is when the “in-laws” visit the wife during the husband’s absence, is also undesirable. Narrated 'Uqba Ibn-Amir: “Allah's Apostle said, "Beware of entering [into rooms] upon the ladies." A man from the Ansar said, "Allah's Apostle! What about Al-Hamu (the in-laws of the wife)?" The Prophet replied: The in-laws of the wife are death itself.”[3] He used the word death to imply the harm such interaction causes to families and homes. This does not mean we easily distrust people but following the Prophet’s (PBUH) instructions will prevent many problems. He eliminated any embarrassment this matter may cause by addressing it clearly and directly. The same is also applicable for in-laws visiting the husband during the wife’s absence. I hope that people pay attention to this point because excess interaction causes many problems.

As for the issue of premarital relationships, sometimes a young lady starts becoming more religious so she wears hijab but still has a boyfriend. I say to such girls, either the boyfriend should propose so he can get married or such a relationship should end immediately until he can do so. It is common to find youth involved in such relationships for many years and claim they cannot end it because of the strength of the relationship. Such people must resist in the same way the prophet Yusuf (PBUH) resisted and his case was much more difficult. However, statistics show that only 5% of premarital relationships end up in marriage. The rest result in nothing and so young girls are heartbroken and fall into depression. Allah (SWT) cares for you young ladies and wishes to protect your tender hearts so He (SWT) says what can be translated as, “They should be chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours: …” (TMQ, 4:25).

If we were to consider the case of a very nice premarital relationship without any obligations that lasted for three years and ended up with no marriage, the young lady then gets married to another person for 1 ½ years and starts comparing (whether consciously or unconsciously) between her old boyfriend and her husband she will see, most of the time, that her former relationship was much better because it involved no obligations. Recent statistics show that 75% of divorce cases resulted directly or indirectly because of premarital relationships. I beg of you, say no to such relationships. As for married couples’ affairs, results are even worse. A married women’s affair leads to much more wrath from Allah than premarital relationships.

Continuing on with the ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "He said: ‘(Allah) forbid! Truly (thy husband) is my lord! he made my sojourn agreeable!" (TMQ, 12:23). Who is meant here by “my lord”, is it Allah or Al-Aziz? Both explanations are possible and applicable although most Tafseer (exegesis of the Holy Qur'an) suggest it is Al-Aziz. Why was this issue left ambiguous? The answer is to perfect the story telling technique and encourage the reader to think. The more competent an author, the greater his ability to make the reader use his mind and contemplate about the written text. So glory be to Allah who is able to make all interpretations of the ayah applicable.

But why did prophet Yusuf (PBUH) mention Al-Aziz in his reply to Al-Aziz’s wife?

The reason is, sometimes reminding of Allah is not enough to stop a person from committing a sin. So he also reminded her of her husband, i.e. he included both a religious factor (Allah’s power to protect him) and a worldly factor (her husband). This teaches us a lesson when discussing issues with people; we need to mention both the religious and worldly factors involved. For example, premarital relationships are not permitted because it brings Allah’s wrath (religion) and it destroys homes (worldly factor).

Meanwhile, prophet Yusuf (PBUH) did not forget Al-Aziz’s generosity and said what can be translated as, “truly (thy husband) is my lord! He made my sojourn agreeable” (TMQ, 12:23). Basically meaning if you want to betray your husband, I would not betray him who was generous to me. Therefore, he did not forget the favor that Al-Aziz did for prophet Yusuf (PBUH) when he was young and found him in the well. “The man in Egypt who bought him, said to his wife: "Make his stay (among us) honorable: maybe he will bring us much good, or we shall adopt him as a son." (TMQ, 12:21). Therefore, prophet Yusuf (PBUH) used the same word (agreeable) to emphasize that he had not forgotten the favor.

Again, prophet Yusuf’s life (PBUH) is disrupted and yet he remains steadfast in his morals and faith and does not change. So do not be affected by the fact that sins are being committed everywhere. If you find all your friends with girlfriends, do not copy them. Even if all of your friends, dear sister, are without a hijab, hold onto it because that is what is right. Even if weddings are done in manners different from Islamic teachings, do not follow them; hold onto your principles because they are the right ones. Do not compromise the main principles and beliefs, but you can negotiate when it comes to less important matters that hold up more than one opinion. Throughout Yusuf’s story the characters change their morals while prophet Yusuf’s (PBUH) personality remains unchanged:

* In the well, prophet Yusuf (PBUH) was steadfast praying to Allah
* In Al-Aziz’s house, he was always connected to Allah
* In prison, he preached about Allah
* He held the position of a minister in Egypt and yet he was generous to the people

Therefore, he remained unaffected. What’s more, he is so loyal that he does not forget the favors of the one who “made his stay honorable” from the time he was 12 until he reached his 30’s. Do you remember your teachers? Are you loyal to your parents or to others who did you favors in the past? Why don’t you visit your teachers to acknowledge their favors and to feel the real meaning of loyalty?

Continuing with the next ayah, Allah says what can be translated as, "And (with passion) did she desire him, and he would have desired her, but that he saw the evidence of his Lord…." (TMQ, 12:24). Here the word al-hamm in Arabic can mean either to want or to contemplate. Therefore, saying hammat means she wanted him, as for the word ham, in his case, there were several interpretations. One of the interpretations is that it meant he also wanted her, however this is not possible since prophet Yusuf (PBUH) is a prophet and all prophets are infallible. Furthermore, this would contradict the previous ayah (TMQ, 12:23) where he said, “Allah forbid!” and with the rest of this ayah (TMQ, 12:24) where Allah says what can be translated as, “he has confined himself”. Therefore, the interpretation of “willingness” is out of the question in his case. Another interpretation claims that hamm means he wanted to hit her but there is no proof of that. Therefore, the closest meaning of the word al- hamm with regards to Yusuf (PBUH) is “to contemplate”. To elaborate this point, when fasting in Ramadan it is common that you get hungry and thirsty, so when you smell the aroma of nice food and you see a cup of water you contemplate that you wish to break your fast to eat or drink. But would you actually break your fast? Impossible! It is only a wish or a whim. Moreover, since the word lawlaa (but that) came after ham “he would have desired her, but that…” (TMQ, 21:24). Then it is as if the ayah is saying he was going to contemplate about it but he didn’t even contemplate because something else happened (he saw the evidence of the lord). For example if I say ,“I was going to fall if it had not been for Amr’s help”, meaning I did not actually fall and so prophet Yusuf (PBUH) did not even contemplate the thought of sinning.

But why was this meaning phrased in such a complex manner? If Allah (SWT) simply said “with passion she desired him but he did not desire her” people may have interpreted that prophet Yusuf (PBUH) had a physical handicap which hindered him from approaching women in general. However, Allah (SWT) wanted to actually show that prophet Yusuf (PBUH) was in a perfect physical condition but something else happened that prevented him from even the thought of sinning. The word istasama (he has confined himself) also indicates that al-hamm did not happen and at the end of the ayah Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “…thus (did We order) that We might turn away from him (all) evil and shameful deeds; for he was one of Our servants, sincere and purified" (TMQ, 12:24), so how is it possible that Allah praised him so much if he thought of committing the sin?

We now move to the part of “but that he saw the evidence of his Lord” in the ayah. Some interpretations say that “the evidence of his lord” was a picture of Prophet Jacob (PBUH) he saw on the wall. Others suggest that he heard the angel Jibril (AS) (Gabriel) saying “do not disobey Allah” but there is no evidence for both claims. Moreover, some say that he saw the ayah “ Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road (to other evils)” (TMQ, 17:32) but there is no evidence of such a claim either. Here the meaning of "the evidence of his lord” is the fact that he remembered Allah’s blessings on him and that he remembered Paradise. “The evidence of his lord” is what Allah (SWT) sent as emotions, feelings, thoughts, etc. that kept him steadfast in his faith with Allah. So if you are on the verge of committing a sin, ask Allah to send His evidence and help you to remain resolute against temptations. So he remembered Paradise, he remembered Hell, he remembered Allah’s favors (so how could he displease him despite the blessings he bestowed upon him), he remembered the embarrassment if the sin was found out, he remembered that whatever he did could reflect on his family, he remembered that if he did this sin he could be downgraded a level in Paradise and would not be able to regain it, or he may have remembered that he would be asked about this on the Day of Judgment. Therefore, those of you who are committing such a sin, remember Allah’s evidence!

Can Allah’s evidence come as revelations to any human being and how? The answer is yes it can. It can happen if you obey Allah (SWT) when you are in a period of ease and comfort and not exposed to temptations so when temptations come, Allah’s evidence will be sent to you. (May Allah strengthen our faith and open our hearts to His evidence.) Strengthen the presence of Allah’s evidence in your heart by obeying Him regularly. Obey Allah by doing Dhikr (mentioning Allah’s names and attributes) regularly, by doing Qiyam (voluntary night prayer), by following his instructions, and pray that Allah will not to expose us to sinful temptations. Go for Umrah (minor pilgrimage), pay Sadaqa (charity), be good to your parents and visit your relatives.

Allah says what can be translated as, “thus (did We order) that We might turn away from him (all) evil and shameful deeds: for he was one of Our servants, sincere and purified” (TMQ, 12:24). So Allah promised prophet Yusuf (PBUH) to help him to be firm in his faith. If you are also exposed to too many temptations, have faith that Allah will not leave you astray. However, you need to prove to Him your sincerity. The faith was strengthened in prophet Yusuf (PBUH) because he was “one of Our servants, sincere and purified”. This is the best description that can be said about a person because it implies that prophet Yusuf (PBUH) is loyal to Allah only, in other words, Allah (SWT) is the most important factor in prophet Yusuf ‘s (PBUH) life and that his obedience to Allah is his ultimate goal. Thus if you devote your life to Allah, you won’t be sorry. Allah will be with you; you won’t ever go astray. Can you be purely devoted to Allah without any faults, like the milk described in “ …. From what is within their bodies between excretions and blood, We produce, for your drink, milk, pure and agreeable to those who drink it” (TMQ, 16:66). Get yourself away from the temptations in life and promise yourself that you will be loyal to Allah and you will always please Him in everything you do: in the way you perform your work, in the way you raise your kids, all for the sake of Allah. Only then will you be saved from committing sins.

We now move on to the next ayah: “So they raced with one another to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back. They both found her lord (i.e. her husband) at the door. She said: "What is the recompense (punishment) for him who intended an evil design against your wife, except that he be put in prison or a painful torment?" (TMQ, 12:25). There is a beautiful poem recited in relation to this ayah which may not necessarily be true. It was the moment before they raced to the doors.

The wife of Al-Aziz said," Yusuf, O Yusuf, how beautiful is your face".

He replied: "in the womb Allah gave me my appearance".

She said: "O Yusuf, O Yusuf, how beautiful is your hair".

He replied: "It is the first thing that decays in my grave".

She said: "O Yusuf, O Yusuf, how beautiful are your eyes".

He replied: "With them I will look at my Creator so I will not use them to displease Him".

She then said: "O Yusuf, look at me, look up!"

He replied: "I fear blindness on the Day of Judgment".

Here I say to those who do not lower their gaze, remember the ayah as Allah says what can be translated as, “Verily, from (the Light of) their Lord, that Day, will they be veiled” (TMQ, 83:15). Fear that you might miss the opportunity of looking at the most beautiful sight in existence because of the sins your eyes committed, the moment of looking at the face of Allah (SWT).

Then she said “Yusuf, I want you to come near me and you are moving away!”

He replied, "If I come near you, it will keep me far from my Creator. I want to be near my Creator by keeping my distance from you."

So “they both raced each other to the door”. Subhan Allah, he said, “ Verily, (the ends) ye strive for are diverse” (TMQ, 92:4), they both raced to the door each having different purposes. If we consider the ayah “and she fastened the doors” (TMQ, 23:12), this means they passed through all the doors and yet she insisted on following him. When a woman loses her modesty and religious sense, she becomes a true disgrace. Consider the difference between the honor in obeying Allah and the shame in sinning. Look at how she degraded herself, and do not ever degrade yourself like that!

But who won the race; was the virtue stronger or the sinful temptation?

Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) won the race “and she tore his shirt from the back”.

What is stronger within you: virtue or sin? “So they both raced each other to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back…" (TMQ, 12:25), the extent of disgrace within her enabled her, the weak woman, to tear his shirt even when he had “attained his full manhood”.

Now let's concentrate on the graceful style of the Qur’an: a style that is found enjoyable by both the average person, who enjoys the beauty of a story in the Qur’an, and the intellectuals who reflect on deeper meanings of the words used, such as the word a- hamm. The word qammisahu (his shirt) is mentioned 3 times, each in a different situation:

1- "They stained his shirt with false blood". (TMQ, 12:18)

2- "So they both raced each other to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back." (TMQ, 12:25)

3- "Go with this my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father: he will come to see (clearly)." (TMQ, 12:93)

The reason it was mentioned that way is to create suspense, excitement and to increase the readers’ focus when reading the story. This technique has only recently been used by authors, but Allah (SWT) used it 1400 years ago. Here I stress that creative writing and arts are not prohibited in Islam. It is allowed and the proof is in Allah’s expression, that the stories of the Qur’an are the best ever and in the fact that His careful choice of words in creating the stories’ depth, characters and plot makes the art of narrative in the Qur’an of an exceptional level.

In this ayah, Allah says what can be translated as, “So they both raced each other to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back: they both found her lord near the door…” (TMQ, 12:25). They raced to the doors until prophet Yusuf (PBUH) had opened all the doors and reached the last one. She then tore his shirt from behind while opening the last door to find sayidaha (her master) or Al-Aziz at the door. Ancient Egyptians used to use this term (sayidaha) when referring to a husband as a matter of honor and respect. Here, I wish to remind women of the importance of respecting their husbands. Families are torn apart because of the disrespect a woman shows her husband and her insistence on being on equal terms with him. I also warn her of the danger of disrespecting her husband in public or when she consistently criticizes her husband whether for making mistakes or for no reason at all. In such a case the husband starts to feel he is losing his manhood, and he starts looking for another woman who listens to him without constant criticism. Make your husband feel that you treasure him, satisfy his ego and do not insult him.

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[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed

[2] Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5096

[3] Narrated by Bukhari, Authentic, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 159.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:29 AM

Yusuf – 5A:

In today’s episode we will continue talking about “resisting temptation”. It is very helpful for our young people to remain steadfast against temptation, and for our men and women to become stronger. We spoke last time in detail about the issue of resisting temptation. We did not talk about young men and young women only, but we talked also about married couples. We said that the issue of resisting temptation and resisting sin are basic areas where you should exert every effort to close all the routes from which temptation may come. Anyway, we will not talk in detail again; instead, we will proceed from where we stopped.

We stopped at verse 30. We also agreed that we would memorize Surat Yusuf till verse 30. I wonder if anyone has memorized the previous 30 verses! Believe me, brothers, it is a very easy thing to do. The cassettes of this Surah are available. Every time you listen to it, try to memorize it. If you can’t, then you have a problem that you should exert every effort to solve. Please memorize this Surah, understand it, and pray al-Qiyam (night prayer) with it; you will feel a new, very nice taste, try it and see.

“And women in the city said, ‘The wife of al-Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man from his (true) self, indeed she loves him violently; verily we see her in plain error’.” (TMQ, Yusuf: 30)[1].

Let's take this verse and reflect on it as we usually do. “And women in the city said…” What happened is that the story spread all over the city; women of the city knew even though the Aziz said to Yusuf (PBUH) what can be translated as, “Turn away from this…“ (TMQ, Yusuf: 29), to protect his social stature. Yet, Allah (SWT) exposed him and uncovered the deeds of his wife. Everyone knew about what had happened in the Aziz's house. “And women in the city said…” you know, when women take on a subject, what will happen then? “Women said” means “the whole country said”. It is clear that those women were from the high class, the same class of the Aziz's wife.

“And women in the city said…” How did they know about it? Those who attended the incident were 4: the Aziz, his wife, Yusuf (PBUH) and the witness. It is impossible for the Aziz's wife to talk about herself, Yusuf (PBUH) would not talk about it, and it is also impossible for the Aziz to speak about that issue because he would be afraid of the spread of the story. Even if the sin would continue, what he cared about was the scandal. It is clear that the witness was a wise witness; his speech shows that he was a wise man. When he was told that we don't have any evidence about the crime except that the shirt of the man was torn. He said what can be translated as, “…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!” (TMQ, Yusuf:26-27). This is a wise man. But, how did the people know? How did the story spread?

Servants. The servants and the labor; stories spread that way. Servants eavesdrop then go out and talk about it. A servant will tell another servant; the later tells a master; a master tells a woman until the women of the city would know everything! That is how the story spread. And now everything was known. The Aziz and his wife were exposed and disgraced.

“And women in the city said: The wife of al-‘Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man from his (true) self; indeed, she loves him violently…” (TMQ, Yusuf:30). The point here is about women gossiping. Are they getting angry over a rightful issue or over virtue? Absolutely not! It is their love for scandal, backbiting and having pleasure in uncovering people’s sins; and this is a sickness of the heart. Look how the society is full of problems; look at the society in which Surat Yusuf is taking place. There are many problems in this society: women have nothing to do, the Aziz’s wife stooped so low to such an extent that her story spread all over the city and she didn’t even care about it. Idle, void women talking and gossiping, “Have you heard what the Aziz’s wife did, and how she sought to seduce her slave?” Do you think that our women are living in a similar atmosphere? We are not speaking about fantasy. I wonder if our men see their sisters, mothers and wives living in the same atmosphere of scandal mongering and backbiting, yet they remain silent.

This Surah treats every need in a society. Notice that, while reading it, you come across problems our own society is suffering from. Nowadays, the problem is that our women are jobless and, because they have nothing to do, they start backbiting about people's dignity and making false accusations. When they have nothing to do they decline to their worst level of corruption and vileness. What type of society is that? I wonder if our women are living in a similar society? I do not mean that they are like the Aziz's wife, Allah (SWT) forbids. But our women can be of the second type; like the women of the city. And you; if you see women in your family act like this, what will you do? You will go and quarrel with them, thinking to yourself that you have solved the problem. Or will you try to see how they could fill-up their free time!

This verse treats women's problem, mainly “free time”. Like the Aziz's wife, her problem was also free time. Scholars say, “If you do not occupy your heart with truthfulness, it will occupy you with untruthfulness.” You have to occupy your hearts, especially women, because their free time is more than men's. Men are distracted all day long by life's movement, and at night they are concerned about his future and his children’s. But a woman has space for mental and psychological emptiness more than man. Why? Because she is not responsible for the livelihood like the man, although there are women who work. We are really concerned about you, women. Please, try not to live idly in this life because, if you live unoccupied, you will, unwillingly, descend to disobey Allah (SWT); if not in adultery, Allah (SWT) forbids, it will be in backbiting and destroying people's dignity. A woman talks for 4 hours on the telephone. I wonder, what she says in these 4 hours. How many times will she backbite? I wonder if such phone calls can do anything useful to the society!

I will say again that the issue of “free time” is very important. The Aziz's wife reached that state because she was an idle and a bored woman and the women of the city were also idle. Set up a program for yourself to occupy your day; you are jobless and have nothing to do. Look for something to do; something charitable by which you will benefit your society. It is really something painful to find a woman like Mother Teresa filling the world with her good deeds to the extent that she won the Nobel Prize. She really deserves it. Why do we not have such a woman, a woman who fills the world with good deeds? We have charitable volunteer work to help orphans or the poor in orphanages and hospitals. We have many ways to do good deeds. We are 70 million! Societies cannot ask governments to do it since governments cannot manage to help in such areas; that takes volunteer charitable work. Women who have free time, young people who have free time should use it in charitable and volunteer work. Satan's main entrance is idleness.

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas, The Prophet (PBUH) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” (Al-Bukhari)

You should not sit. You have to do something. It really hurts to find so many people and organizations coming to our countries to make good things while they are foreigners. They take our money and spend it on our poor people. Why don't we make these good deeds ourselves? Why don’t you make this charity? Do they have mercy on us more than we do on ourselves? Think with your friends about how to do something charitable. Help in cancer institutes or orphanages. You might say, “What can I do?” You are sitting there saying, “I am religious and I need to do something,” while there are many orphans, poor, needy, handicapped, and sick and those who want to learn Qur’an.

The potential is in front of you but you must be unwilling to do it. Note when Allah (SWT) talks about Prophet Dawud (AS) (David). This is addressed to women and men but especially to women, “And remember Our handed slave, Dawud…” (TMQ, Saad:17). What does this word “handed” mean? Did he have 10 hands? Absolutely not. It means that wherever you find a good deed, you find that Dawud (PBUH) has participated in it. “And remember Our handed slave, Dawud “. How many hands do you have? Many people's hands are cut off (worthless), despite the fact that they are full of strength, vitality and also muscular ability but their muscles are idle; they are nothing.

You can conclude all these facts from this verse that can be translated as, “And women in the city said: The wife of Al-Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) from his (true) self, indeed she loves him violently” (TMQ, Yusuf:30). Note the word seduce associated with the word nafs (self); it has been mentioned 4 times until now:

1) “But she in whose house he was, sought to seduce him from his (true) self” (TMQ, 12:23).

2) And women in the city said: “The wife of Al-‘Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man from his (true) self, indeed she loves him violently” (TMQ, Yusuf:30).

3) “He [Yusuf] said: It was she that sought to seduce me from my (true) self” (TMQ, Yusuf:26).

4) “The wife of Al-Aziz said: “Now the truth is manifest (to all); it was I who sought to seduce him from his (true) self, and he is surely of the truthful” (TMQ, Yusuf:51).

What is the story of this word nafs? Look how strong his nafs is. That is why this word nafs is mentioned repeatedly. Allah (SWT) wants to show you how steadfast his nafs is. We have: women who are trying to degrade themselves but they cannot, men who are waiting for a sign from any woman, other men are not waiting for any signs they just imagine that women are constantly inviting them. Other men are dreaming about sin since many years, they are envious that other men can do it while they can't. But, those who want to imitate our master Yusuf (PBUH) note how his nafs is very strong. It was mentioned four times in this Surah.

“The wife of Al-‘Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man against his (true) self, indeed she is consumed by love for him.” (TMQ, Yusuf:30). Note the expression “she is consumed by love for him.” It means that his love has penetrated every space of her heart. Here, I want to ask you a question. Is it love or lust? It is lust, isn’t it? So, why do they say, “ she is consumed by love for him.” although it is lust? Here we have a very dangerous meaning showing how women sometimes are fooled. They cannot differentiate between love and lust. In the name of love they can be tricked. This part is very important; although it is clear for the woman of the city that it is lust, they called it love instead. You are also tricked in the same way. He will continue to tell you, “I love you” until you believe him and commit sin. Then the very next day, he will not be able to look into your face.

I swear by Allah the Greatest, that every week I hear a story like this from girls or boys. In the name of love, he disobeys Allah (SWT) then he comes to say that I can’t look at her face; or she says that he shunned me and betrayed me or married me ‘orfi marriage.[2] This marriage that you call “orfi”, it is not marriage. It is “adultery”. Any girl who marries in college without the knowledge of her family is committing sin. This is not the customary marriage. Be careful, not to be cheated this way, and not to believe such words. If you have a friend passing through likely circumstances, you have to advise her that this man will betray her because he is a scoundrel. Sometimes they can’t even look at their own devilish faces at all.

I swear by Allah (SWT), that I hear stories like this, weekly. A young man comes to me and says, “I do not want to be a scoundrel, but really I cannot look at her face.” I ask him, “Did you love her?” He answers, “Very much.” It was not love; it was lust because if he really loved you, he would not accept to be alone with you without the knowledge of your family. Instead, he would marry you. I say it twice to girls; if you want to know whether it is love or lust, ask yourself why he is secretly seeing you? Try this; while walking together tell him, “Oh, is this your sister walking in front of us!” [Hinting that his sister is also out with a man.] And watch how he will behave. It is one of two things: either he will leave you and run after his sister and so you will know what he truly thinks of you, that you are worthless, that he is only having fun by going out with you. Or, he will tell you, “It is ok; I don’t care.” That way, you will know that he is not even a man [to preserve his family’s dignity by stopping his sister from such behavior]. Be careful or else after 10 years you will find yourself married to al-Aziz himself.

“Indeed, she is consumed with love for him; verily we see her in plain error.” (TMQ, Yusuf:30). “Plain error” righteous words meant to be unrighteous. From their point of view, doing the forbidden sin is not the “plain error”. The error, according to them, is to do it with her slave; she should have looked for a better partner. That is what they mean by the “plain error”. They are not outraged because she is doing a forbidden sin! What type of atmosphere is that? What type of women are those?

Look at the following verse that can be translated as, “So when she heard of their accusation…”(Surat Yusuf:31). How did she hear of their accusation? It is simple. If women start talking this means that everybody in the city will hear. “So when she heard of their accusation…” This verse also reveals something about jealousy; when jealousy enters a society or a building, it starts eating into this building until its people get lost and their hearts become black.

I ask you by Allah (SWT)! Our workingwomen, please be careful, don't backbite your manager at work. Go to him and tell him, “I am angry at you.” Do not sit with your friends at work and mock your manager; this is backbiting. Do not mock your teacher; do not make childish gestures and signs while you are standing in front of him. Be a man. Either you go and speak with him face to face or keep it to yourself and never backbite. Be careful not to backbite your neighbor with another neighbor and know that if anybody backbites anyone in front of you she will backbite you in front of others; and the one who mocks your colleague, will mock you tomorrow. The Prophet (PBUH) never spoke about any issue in such a rebuking way. Two men were walking and they said something about somebody. The Prophet (PBUH) kept silent until they reached a dunghill where a donkey's dead carcass lay. When they approached it, the Prophet (PBUH) told them, “Eat from this carrion.” They said, “God forbid, we cannot!” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Both of you have eaten the flesh of the brother whom you backbit.” “Do not backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it” (TMQ, Al-Hujurat:12).

Likewise, two women at the time of the Prophet (PBUH) were backbiting another woman, who was not present with them. Although they were fasting they started having a bad stomachache. They sent notice to the Prophet (PBUH) saying, “We are suffering a very bad stomachache we are very sick.” The Prophet (PBUH) sent a dish and asked them to vomit. They said to him, “We have not eaten any meat.” But the Prophet (PBUH) asked them to vomit. They vomited chewed flesh. One day while the Prophet (PBUH) was walking he found a man backbiting another man who was not present with him. The Prophet (PBUH) ordered him to pick his teeth. The man said, “But I have not eaten any meat.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, you did, you must pick your teeth. Imagine yourself after you finish your famous daily phone call, to get up and take a second to pick your teeth, can you do it? Let us try the Prophet's prescription. Keep a box of dental floss with you and when you backbite, take floss and clean your teeth, you will stop backbiting after a week, because you won’t bear that image about yourself.

“So when she heard of their accusation, she sent for them…”(TMQ, Yusuf:31). What does “sent for them” mean? She told them, “I am preparing a party at my home, and I invite you to attend.” You know the luxurious couches, fruits in front of them, lights, fresh air and the swimming pool, luxury in the full sense of the term! “She sent for them and prepared a banquet for them” in order to get them to relax, but note that she is planning for something. “She gave each one of them a knife…”(TMQ, Yusuf:31). In the dish near the apple, she placed a knife for cutting the apples, but she was still planning. What type of void people are they? She knew that they would hurt themselves when they see Yusuf (PBUH) because she knew what type of women they were. What a cunning woman? Emptiness makes all of that, it may even do more. “…and gave each one of them a knife.” Here we have a very nice aspect. Did the old Egyptians reach this extent of civilization, to cut fruits with knives? This means that civilization was firmly established at that time regardless of whether it was connected with Allah (SWT) or not, but it was really firmly established. “She gave each one of them a knife and she said to Yusuf (Joseph), “Come out before them.” (TMQ, Yusuf:31). This means that he was still in the house; the Aziz did not send him away!

“And she said to Yusuf (Joseph) “Come out before them. Then, when they saw him, they exalted him…” (TMQ, Yusuf:31). What does “exalted him” mean? It means that they admired him for his beauty. “When they saw him, they exalted him and cut their hands…” (TMQ, Yusuf:31). The word cut here does not mean that they cut their hands off, no it means that they wounded their hands. In Arabic we refer to the word “wound” by “cut” while they were cutting apples they hurt themselves. “…they cut their hands and said: How perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)!” (TMQ, Yusuf:31). Notice where they used the religious terms “ and said: How perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)!” As if they were saying, “We esteem you our Lord, this is not a natural human being; you have created a supernatural beauty”.

“And said: How perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)! No man is this! This is none other than a noble angel!” (TMQ, Yusuf:31). There is another note here, too. They used a religious term “Allah forbid”, for an earthly issue. You have to be careful not to use religious terms for earthly issues. Like when a man gazing at a beautiful women in the street and another man comes and says to him, “Fear Allah brother, lower your gaze.” He answers him by, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.” Don’t people say that? By the way, this sentence angers Allah (SWT), to use religious terms in decorating [or justifying] earthly misdeeds. You find a woman dancing and people around her saying, “Blessings be upon the Prophet.” Be aware brothers we are not joking. It is something very bad, using religion for inappropriate earthly issues is something very shameful, they even mention the Prophet (PBUH) in this nonsense. Here, you have to close your ears and go away.

“And said: How perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)!” His beauty dazzled them; they were in a state of lust, though they used religious terms. Now look at the immoral woman! “This is he (the young man) about whom you did blame me.” (TMQ, Yusuf:32). She said to them you cannot blame me anymore, look what you have done to yourselves. “She said: and I did seek to seduce him.” (TMQ, Yusuf:32). Is it possible that a woman can be so blunt? Women are really very strange! When a woman is close to Allah (SWT) she can be worth one hundred men, she can shake the whole earth, she can guide people to the path of Allah (SWT), she can give what men cannot give, her trust in Allah (SWT) can be many times bigger than men. Yet when she deviates, Allah forbids, from the path moving a mountain would be easier than moving her heart.

By the way, be careful not to marry a shameless woman. Young men, sitting with us right now, you can marry a woman who is not so religious but be careful not to marry a shameless woman. Though a religious woman would be much help in your way to Allah (SWT), yet a woman without shame is out of the question. How can you tell? You’ll know her from her conduct, from her extravagant clothes. She may not wear Hijab (headscarf), but her clothes are not indecent, because that would be a clear evidence of her shamelessness. A woman in the habit of joking and laughing in a loud voice among men, usually has no shame (Haia’a). Close your eyes and you will know that this woman is not suitable to be a wife even if she was the most beautiful woman in the world. When you find a God-fearing woman, you must know that she is the suitable woman to be married. And you [women], be careful not to marry a shameless man since the issue of Haia’a is very critical. How could al-Aziz's wife utter such words?

[Al-Aziz’s wife said to the women of the city] “And I did seek to seduce him…” Now look at the next word fasta'sam (refused). Allah (SWT) puts these two words together in order to let you compare between baseness and loftiness. Which type would you like to be? Fasta’sam--notice how strong the letters are; the word in itself is strong. Try to refuse seduction. I will tell you a very wonderful thing, if you refuse seduction once, Allah (SWT) will preserve you ten times. “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah” (TMQ, Al-Imran:103). Holding fast means that you will not disobey Allah (SWT). If you hold fast and refused to look at a scene from a TV program or on the Internet or at a woman in the street; lowering your eyes and saying, “I will not look.” do you know what Allah (SWT) is going to do to you? He will preserve you for six months! If you refused once for the sake of Allah (SWT), He will reward you by His preservation for six months. But be careful, Satan will trick you. He would say to you, “It is ok, you refused this time but you cannot for another, you are living in this world, you go to college everyday.” So, will you refuse?

Try to hold fast to His rope once and He will preserve you for six months. “And I did seek to seduce him but he refused.” Now you will find the extent of being low. “And now if he refuses to obey my order…” (TMQ, Yusuf:32). What is this? Is it possible that the woman may stoop low to that state? Why are these expressions and scenes repeated in Qur'an? It is to say to women, “Be careful not to be like this, look how mean and low the wife of the Aziz is.” How can a girl call phone number haphazardly until maybe a man answers, to make passes at him? There are girls who are doing this. Is it conceivable that this girl is the granddaughter of Lady Khadijah or Lady Aisha? Is it conceivable that this girl is of Prophet Muhammad’s Ummah (PBUH)? Is it believable that this girl has read the story of our master Yusuf (PBUH)? “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.” (TMQ, Yusuf:32). When our master Yusuf (PBUH) heard that, he raised his hands to Allah (SWT). In the beginning one woman sought to seduce him, but now all the city's women were seeking to seduce him. How? Look at the next verse that can be translated as, “Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them…” (TMQ, Yusuf:33). He said “their plot” not “her”. He also said, “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me…” (TMQ, Yusuf:33). He said, “they invite” me, not “she invites”; it is very clear. How? After the incident when women cut their hands, every one of them went to the Aziz's wife and said for her, “let me go to Yusuf and I will convince him to accept”, she goes to him and starts seducing him. Do you see how persistent the resistance of our master Yusuf (PBUH) is? It is in the word fasta'sam (refused). So it is no longer one woman who is seeking to seduce him, women working together, imagine! Women living in the same neighborhood, he is still steadfast. You have to love this resoluteness; it makes you say, “Why am I not like this? Why do I not preserve myself like this? And why am I so weak? Is it possible when a woman gives me a sign that I fall right away? What kind of weakness am I suffering from?” Allah (SWT) is telling you this in order to become more steadfast and stronger. “…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” (TMQ, Yusuf:32).

Now we have another scene, our master Yusuf (PBUH) is raising his hands saying what can be translated as, “He said: “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me”. (TMQ, Yusuf:33). Do you know what that means? It means that hardships of prison are easier to his heart than those of sin. Do you fear prison or do you commit adultery? Can you imagine the comparison? We compare between being patient for five or six years until we get married and between committing sin? His comparison was more difficult than ours. It is either you enter the prison or you commit a sin. Now look at the answer. “Prison is dearer to me…” he used the word “ahab” (dearer) because they used the same word in “she is consumed with love for him”. He used the same word for something that nobody could imagine in order to make them lose any hope. They said what can be translated as, “she is consumed with love for him “ while he said what can be translated as, “Prison is dearer to me”. Prison is dearer to my heart when compared with committing a sin. Can you say that today? If anyone is set on committing a sin such as going out with a girl (it is not necessary that the relationship would reach adultery but it could be a prelude to adultery), the man who is ignoring his wife at home and speaking with his female colleague at work and their relationship is developing and developing. Can you utter two words like those said by our master Yusuf (PBUH)? Can you feel like this? Do you imagine how Yusuf (PBUH) is feeling inside?

“He said: “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me.” He expressed it by the word 'dearer' as long as he is away from sin. There are many people who are wishing to sin. “He said, “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me. Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them…” ‘Inclined’ here does not mean that I will commit adultery, it means inclination—he might be interested, Yusuf (PBUH) is even afraid from inclination.

Here we have another interesting point, which is that there is no hope for him except by seeking help from Allah (SWT). Do you remember our master Yaqub (AS) (Jacob) when he said what can be translated as, “So (for me) patience is most fitting? And it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe.” (TMQ, Yusuf:18). Our master Yusuf (PBUH) is imitating him now. He says, “ He said: “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me”, but without you I am worthless. Brothers, we cannot drive sin away from our lives except by seeking the help of Allah (SWT). There is no success in our lives at all except by seeking the help of Allah (SWT). This point of seeking help from Allah (SWT) is absent from our lives. You are used to saying, “I will resist.” but have you sought help from Allah (SWT)? Seeking help from Allah (SWT) is the core of Islam.

There is a very nice saying from Ibn al-Qayyim: he says, “Allah revealed 104 Books (this is from a Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) that Allah revealed 104 Books). He collected them in three Books (Torah, Bible, Qur’an) then he collected them in one Book which is Qur’an; then he gathered the Qur’an into one Surah which is the Fateha “The Opening”, then He gathered the Fateha in two verses which can be translated as, “You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help.” (TMQ, al-Fatiha:5). Then Ibn al-Qayyim said, “There is no ability to worship without seeking the help of Allah since it is the core of Islam, the whole universe is: “You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help” isn't it? “And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me.” (TMQ, Ad-Dhariat:56). The whole universe is made for worship and there is no ability to worship without seeking the help of Allah (SWT), it is the core of Islam. That is why the Prophet (PBUH) taught us to say (most of people do not say it) after performing the prayers “O Allah, help me praise You, thank You and worship You in a good way”.[3] Learn this Dua'a (supplication) by heart and say it after every prayer it is a very important dua’a. I will not be able to stand on my feet in this life without Allah (SWT).

You may say that sins are around you everywhere, or you might think that I have no idea about the types of temptation you’re confronted with. So, what is the solution to this problem? The only solution is to seek help from Allah (SWT), sit and say, “O' Allah (SWT), I do not have anyone but You, if You do not take this sin out of my heart I will die while You are angry with me. Take it out of my heart, O Lord! I want to worship You and enjoy Your worship; I am not feeling reverent, make me feel it.” This is the core of religion. The issue is to seek the help of Allah (SWT) in everything. “O Allah (SWT), I need work, I need of money so please it send to me, I want to get married, help me.” Look at the Hadith that says Allah (SWT) makes it an obligation on Himself to help three persons; one of them is a man who wants to marry because he is seeking chastity. What does that mean? It means that a man wants to marry in order to abstain from what is forbidden.

Yusuf (PBUH) said what can be translated as, “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me 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 the ignorant. So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot” (TMQ, Yusuf:33-34). Yusuf (PBUH) did not supplicate except this time, but they sought to seduce him a very long time ago. She also tried to seduce him a very long time ago, but why were his prayers unanswered till then? The answer came late? Scholars have a very nice comment here; this time the dua’a was connected with asking help, “Unless You turn away their plot…”. It’s like he was saying, ‘I've become tired, I’ve supplicated so many times before but this time I am urgently seeking Your help, help me!’ Make your supplication always connected to a plea for help, you will soon be answered. Thus, the answer here came quickly. Supplicate in your own colloquial language, “O Allah (SWT), I do not know how to give up this sin, my heart is in Your hand, I beg you to get this sin out of my heart, I found no solution but to ask you help me.” And be sure that Allah (SWT) will give you rest, you will see.

“So his Lord answered his invocation…” (TMQ, Yusuf:34). It gives you great hope. “…and turned away from him their plot…” I will ask you a question? After this verse in the story, has anybody heard if Yusuf (PBUH) was exposed to temptation again? Temptation disappeared! What is this? Is it possible that a sin though so sweet in my heart for twenty years yet Allah (SWT) plucks it out so easily? Yes, certainly! This happened to many people. The story says, “and turned away from him their plot…” It means that he did not charm women any more. Didn’t I tell you that if you abstain from committing sin, Allah (SWT) would preserve you for a long time. Ok, what happened when they saw him? Allah (SWT) replaced the desire in their eyes with esteem, awe and appreciation. His face was still the same but Allah (SWT) may throw desire into this person's heart and dignity in the other. At the beginning, women were charmed when they looked at Yusuf (PBUH), but when he supplicated to Allah (SWT) and sought His help, desire was replaced with dignity and loftiness. The same face, but praise be to Allah (SWT) who controls the inclinations of the hearts in His Hands, and praise be to Allah (SWT) who is able to remove desire from your heart. So, you have to seek the help of Allah (SWT).

How many people here have problems or sins and wish to extract them from their hearts? One smokes cigarettes or, Allah forbids, suffering from drug addiction, or from their attraction to women… Someone once told me that he was persistent in doing a sin for ten years, and in these ten years he never ceased calling Allah (SWT) to get this sin out of his heart. He told me, one night in Ramadan he prostrated (in prayer) and asked Allah (SWT), “I have no one but You (Allah).” He told me, “I swear I felt as if something has been removed out of me. I don’t know how, but it was as if someone opened my heart, took something and threw it away. It was completely gone!” Has anyone tried this before? Try to connect your dua'a with asking His help; ask His help and be confident that if it is written to happen, it will. “So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower”. (TMQ, Yusuf:34).

“Then it occurred to them, after they had seen the evidence (of his innocence), to imprison him for a time.” (TMQ, Yusuf:35). How terrible! After they were certain of his innocence, when the whole country becomes sure that he was innocent, al-Aziz's wife said, “And I did seek to seduce him, but he refused.” After all of this they were going to imprison him? It is because al-Aziz started to feel that the problem became bigger, that is why he wanted to get rid of Yusuf (PBUH). It is so terrible, why? This word “for a time” does not specify the time that our master Yusuf (PBUH) is going to spend in prison. There was no trial; just take him and throw him into prison. How much time he was going to spend in prison? He did not know, this meant that he could be forgotten, of course, because it is easier to sentence someone for 25 years than to let him remain unaware of when he will be released. I am just trying to show you that, he did not just suffer from imprisonment but one that would destroy his dignity; “for a time”, until they remember him. What a hard ordeal that was! Still, there was something harder, what was his charge? It was an honor crime, while he was the nobleman, son of a nobleman, son of a nobleman. A wellborn man, can you see how awful his situation was?

Let’s review the ordeals that our master Yusuf (PBUH) was confronted with. The first one: his brothers’ hatred for 12 years until they threw him into the well, according to our study for the story, he was in the well for 3 days. Slavery for 20 years, the loss of parents and family for 40 years, women's seduction 5-6 years, imprisonment for 3-9 years. Could there be any more suffering? Has anybody suffered 25% of all this? Look at him in the end; he was still as he was, steadfast close to Allah (SWT), preserving his obedience to his Lord (SWT).

The next verse can be translated as, “And there entered with him two young men in the prison. One of them said: “Verily, I saw myself (in a dream) pressing wine.” The other said: “Verily, I saw myself (in a dream) carrying bread on my head and birds were eating thereof.” (They said): “Inform us of the interpretation of this. Verily, we think you are one of the Muhsinûn (doers of good).” (TMQ, Yusuf:36). Who were these two young men who entered the prison with him? One of them worked as the king's wine server (what a job!), the other was the king's cook. What were their crimes? Why did they go to prison? There is no evidence about this but, it is said that they were accused by attempting to kill the king. It seems that one of them was innocent and the other was really involved in trying to poison the king’s food or drink. The king discovered their plot, which is why they were imprisoned; they entered the prison with Yusuf (PBUH). While in prison they had dreams.

One of them saw that he was offering wine to the king. “One of them said, “Verily, I saw myself (in a dream) pressing wine.” The other saw that he was carrying a hamper, filled with bread, on his head and birds were eating from this bread. They said what can be translated as, “Inform us of the interpretation of this. Verily, we think you are one of the Muhsinun (doers of good).” There are many things to talk about here. The first one is that Allah (SWT) granted him the talent of dream interpretation. You saw how many ordeals our master Yusuf (PBUH) has confronted, and notice how Allah (SWT) will start dispelling them. Notice when Allah (SWT) wants to protect His servant He will honor him through a dream. I just want to tell you how this universe works. These two men were accused of plotting to kill the king, they were imprisoned, and they had dreams so that Yusuf (PBUH) would interpret them. One of them will go back as the king's wine server. It means that he will be very close to the king, so as to tell the king, one day, “I know the one who is able to interpret your dream, he interpreted a dream for me in the past.” And this will be the reason for releasing Yusuf (PBUH). Who manages this universe? Who brought these two young men into prison? Who made them dream? Who made the king dream afterwards? It is trust in Allah (SWT); He is the Manager of everything.

Why did they choose Yusuf (PBUH), in particular, to interpret their dreams? “…we think you are one of the Muhsinun (doers of good)” He is one of the Muhsinun but how could they know that while they were seeing him for the first time? Because it is clearly apparent in the believer through his behavior and characteristics. I wonder if people at your work see you as one of those Muhsinun. And in your college or where you live, do people see you as one of the Muhsinun? If people can see that in you, then this is the evidence of faith. Or else you’re just living there without any obvious character.

The two men were criminals and in front of them was a man charged with an honor crime. Usually in prisons the criminals look at those charged with honor crimes as if they were worse than them. Yet, when they saw him they said to him, “we think you are one of the Muhsinun”. Brothers, the signs of goodness are so obvious as clear daylight, even tough criminals can see them.

Now we will start analyzing the prison from inside. In front of them was this man accused in an honor crime, yet they saw him as one of the Muhsinun. In his external appearance and in his behavior. Was he distressed, insomniac or depressed, or was he steadfast? He was the only steadfast person in the whole story. Everybody changed around him while he remained steadfast. They tried to seduce him. “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me”. He was imprisoned. “We think you are one of the Muhsinun.” He was sold as a slave but remained steadfast, confident, and close Allah (SWT). I wish you can all be like him.

The following verses, until we finish today, are concentrating on a very basic issue, which is. “the art of da'wa (missionary activity) to Allah (SWT)”. Many people say to me, “We want to make people love the religion but we do not know how. We want to make people understand but we do not know how. Tell us in steps what we have to do.” I didn’t answer them because I was waiting for this day; I was waiting for the story of Yusuf (PBUH). There are fourteen things that you can if you want to affect people. Fourteen things that we can deduce starting from verse 37 till verse 41. Allah (SWT) has placed them in these four verses for those who want to learn da'wa.

Before we start on these rules, I want to ask a question. Is inviting people to Allah (SWT) a voluntary job or it is an obligatory duty? Everyone who is sitting with us now is commanded to invite people to Allah (SWT). The problem is that people here [in the audience] are of two types: the first type speaks to people about religion, and the second are those who have come for the first time. Brothers, this story is what will get you moving. I say to my sisters who are here for the first time and to my brothers who are coming for the second or third time and who have recently become religious, when you lend a helping hand to people, you will feel lifted in an extraordinary way. Those people who have not yet worked in da’wa, please follow the next part. Da'wa is not just voluntary, on the contrary it is an obligatory duty that we all must do.

O master Yusuf (PBUH), was imprisoned and he did not know when he was going to be released. In spite of this, the first thing he did was to lend a helping hand to the prisoners, despite the fact that they were criminals. I am trying to show you how compelling the issue of da'wa is, how you should think of our master Yusuf (PBUH). His burdens kept increasing by the hour, but he was relentless. He was undeterred, he entered the prison and invited people there to Allah (PBUH), but whom did he invite? Criminals or not he spoke to them about religion. There was something more, one of these men was going to be killed, wasn’t that the interpretation of the dream?? One was to live and the other was to die!

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[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[2] Editor’s note: The term “orfi marriage” refers to a marriage that is “known” (‘orfi) but not registered with the government. The term is used interchangeably with “secret marriage”, which is forbidden in Islam.

[3] Allahuma Aeini Ala Ta’atek, wa dhikrik, wa shukrika, wa husn ‘eibadataka.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:30 AM

Yusuf – 6A

The last time, we stopped when Prophet Yusuf was imprisoned. The lecture concluded with the traits that should characterize those who want to call people to Allah (SWT)[1].

As I said earlier, everyone with us here in the Masjid wishes to call others and guide them to Allah (SWT). If one does not feel this way, his/her faith is very weak, even if he/she prays, cries or performs Qiyam (night prayer).

The greater the number of people you want to help, the greater the faith in your heart becomes. You see, the heart is like a glass of water; once you overfill it, it overflows beyond its surroundings, depending on the momentum of the flow. Same thing applies to the heart and how much it sympathizes with others.

Always remember the following ayahs (verses) in which Allah says what can be translated as, “…and whoever gives life to it, (i.e., a self) then it will be as if he had given life to mankind altogether” (TMQ, 5: 32)[2], and “And is he who was deceased, then We gave him life and made for him a light to walk by among mankind, as one whose likeness is in the darkness (es), (and) he is not coming out of them?” (TMQ, 6:122). Indeed, devoting yourself to reviving dead hearts is in itself a great blessing from Allah (SWT) upon you. Moreover, what is even a greater blessing is that helping people around you (guiding them to the right path) keeps you always religious, as you will be ashamed of committing sins. Meanwhile, the only rescue for the one who has been religious for say ten years, and starts to languish is calling people for Allah (SWT), listening to sermons, reading a lot of religious books so as to have a good ammunition to talk about and working hard in performing dua’a (supplication) and Qiyam.

Many women complain that their husbands are not religious. Instead of complaining night and day, I will give them an excellent prescription; my advice is to do their best performing much dua’a.

Ibnul-Qaiyyim said, “You should know that the most prestigious level of subservience to Allah is that of calling for His worship because it is the rank given to Prophets.”

The most wonderful thing in this life is to serve Allah (SWT). One should supplicate every dawn for Allah (SWT) to give him/her the ability and the strength to serve Him (SWT). Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)[3] used to say during fajr prayers (dawn prayer) and witr prayers (an odd number of raka`at - a unit of prayer - by which one finishes his/her Qiyam) what can be translated as, “Grant me from thee a good deed that makes me closer to you my Lord.”

Prescription For He Who Wants to Call People for Allah (SWT):

Surat Yusuf is the only surah in which Allah gathers in about seven ayahs, from ayah (36) to ayah (41), what one should do to call people to Allah (SWT). According to my personal experience, I recommend that you write down the following 14 tips and follow them accurately when calling anyone to Allah (SWT); then you will see how positive the results can be Insha’ Allah.

1. Have good manners:

The evidence is in the ayah in which Allah says what can be translated as, “… surely we see you (are) (one) of the fair-doers.” (TMQ, 12: 36). Yusuf (AS) had never been depressed in prison. Muslim scholars say that he used to stand by the sick, feed the hungry and visit all his fellow-inmates. Notice that he did all that while he was ‘in prison,’ unlike us; we do not visit ‘our relatives’ and we stay away from those whom we think are ‘disgraceful.’ However, in Prophet Yusuf’s case, the ones he used to help were prisoners.

2. Have nice appearance:

In the latter ayah, the words, “We see” imply that Yusuf’s appearance was nice. There is a prevalent idea among some female Muslims that the hijab (the Islamic outfit for female Muslims) must be untidy, lest it attracts other’s attention. On the contrary, I plead them to wear what makes other women like their style of hijab. I’m not suggesting that you should wear flashy coloured clothes. It is a mistake to intentionally wear such clothes for attracting the attention of men. Instead, their intention should be focused on making the women who see them say, “I want to look like this.” Even men should care for the choice of style and colors of their clothes.

We all, female and male Muslims, should always bear in mind that nice appearance accomplishes 50% of people’s acceptance of our speech. Therefore, all of us should be careful while dressing up.

3. Exploit your talents:

Allah (SWT) has endowed each one of us with a special natural gift; for example, you might be gifted with computer skills; so why not teach them to people? You might be talented at playing football; so why not play with them?

You should exploit whatever talent or special gift you have with the intention of getting close to people so as to guide them to love Allah (SWT); for example, if a sister is gifted with a beautiful smile, why not use it with the intention of attracting others (fellow sisters of course) and getting close to them in order to guide them to Allah (SWT)?

As for those who still have not explored their talents and gifts yet, we will devote a special lecture for them, showing them how to do that as expressed in the ayah where Allah says what can be translated as, “Inform us of the interpretation of this.” (TMQ, 12:37).

4. Have self-confidence :

We notice this trait in Yusuf (AS) in the ayah where Allah says what can be translated as, “He said, “No food will come up to you (both) to be provided with except that I will (fully) inform you about its interpretation before it comes up to you; (i.e., I will inform you of the interpretation before the food comes to you)” (TMQ, 12:37). From this we conclude that when talking to people, we must never be hesitant or fearful of their mockery, even if we do not have much information. Always remember that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) told us, “Convey my words to others, even if it is one ayah.” If you have a single piece of information about religion, just say it to another person without self-conceit. The more self-confident you look to others, the the better impression you give.

5. Achieve mutual intimacy:

This is to love people around you and make them love you. You cannot gain one’s heart unless you love him/her first. When you love him/her, Allah (SWT) will make him love you. Allah (SWT) has made the heart the entrance to one’s mind. Some talk to others rationally. Some father may quarrel with his son so as to guide him to the right path; which is not the right method; the most appropriate one in both cases is the heart. This is evident in the ayah where Allah says what can be translated as, “O (you) two companions!” (TMQ, 12:39). When he said this word he truly meant it.

There are some methods that would make people like you such as the following:

Give your friends presents. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) says, “Once you give presents to each other, love shall be kindled amongst you.”

1. Therefore, if your pockets are always full of, say, candy and tapes of sermons you will be showered with love.

2. Ask about your friends and visit them. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “When someone visits his brother in Allah, Allah sends an angel from behind that says to him may you be good and so may your walk and your place in paradise.”

Can you remember when was the last time you visited a person just for the sake of Allah (SWT)?

6. Start solving others’ problems:

Do not start talking religion with the one you want to help. Instead, talk about that someone’s interests first; for example, if he/she likes football, then you would better know something about it bearing in your mind your initial bottom-line intention behind this, which is getting close to him/her so as to guide him/her to Allah (SWT). Likewise, you sister can buy a magazine and read it to get acquainted with girls’ and women’s interests and latest fads, bearing in mind the same intention as well. Always keep in mind that you will never be able to influence the one whom you do not know how he/she thinks and what his/her interests are.

The same thing happened with Yusuf (AS); he started to talk with his fellow-prisoners about their problems first, not about religion. We know from the ayah in which Allah says what can be translated as, “… No food will come up to you (both) to be provided with…” (TMQ, 12:37), that Yusuf (AS) focused first on the issue of provision, which was his fellow-prisoners’ main interest. Hence, you must start from the point that interests your addressee, not you.

Have you ever seen someone fishing with a bait of strawberries? Of course not, fish like worms, not strawberries. Always keep this parable in your mind.

7. Do not be pressing when talking religion:

When you talk religion, you should follow the policy of ‘fits and starts’ (i.e. touch your target point and swiftly go back to where you were). In other words, if you find the way paved and your addressee is ready to listen to what you want to say, give him/her a rich and strong dose of religion then return to your first subject of discussion. Observe ayah 37; Yusuf (AS) attracted his addressees by talking first about the issue of provision, which was of their interest. Next, he started talking about religion in ayahs 38 and 39. Then, he returned to the first issue in ayah 41. Thus, we conclude that he was never pressing when talking about religion.

Being persistent and pressing in anything, especially in religion is very annoying. I myself have a first-hand experience; it was with the first one I thought I should call for Allah (SWT) when I was a university fresher. I liked him very much and was convinced that the most effective way with him was to give him religious-preaching tapes to listen to, for this way worked out for me before. What happened was that whenever I gave him a tape, he simply ignored it. I kept pressing, pushing and insisting on making him listen, to the extent that I asked him once to let me listen to one tape in his house, but that also did not work. This friend became very annoyed with my attitude to the extent that he had this vision where he was tied up and I was the one who did that to him. In the end, he did not become religious and our friendship was over. Although I failed in guiding my friend to Allah (SWT), as well as lost him forever, I learned a very good lesson; working mindlessly surely leads to very bad ends. My pressing attitude made my friend feel that religion is like tying chains.

8. Think of the most attractive methods:

Yusuf (AS) knew that his fellow prisoners wanted to know the interpretation of their visions; that was his access to them. Therefore, he attracted them first by letting them know that he could interpret visions, and that was it. Afterwards, he kept talking about religion, keeping what they wanted for some other time. Then, he gave them the interpretation they asked for. This is because if they had all what they wanted from the very beginning, they would not listen to what he wanted to tell them.

You too can think of the most attractive methods to the one you want to help; you can invite him/her over for a party, for example, if that is the access to him/her.

9. Address the mind along with the heart:

There must be a variety in your speech. Emotional speech does not work alone. Read the ayahs where Allah says what can be translated as, “O (you) two companions of the prison! Are (some) disunited lords more charitable (i.e., better) or Allah, The One, The Superb Vanquisher? In no way do you worship, apart from Him, except names you have named, you and your fathers; …” (TMQ, 12:39-40). Through these ayahs we can see that Yusuf (AS) started addressing their hearts, then their minds.

10. Remind him/her of Allah’s blessings upon him/her:

This is one of the best ways to help anyone, including yourself, to be guided back to Allah (SWT). This is evident in the ayah where Allah says what can be translated as, “… That is of the Grace of Allah to us and to mankind; but most (of) mankind do not thank (Him).” (TMQ, 12:38).

11. Be courteous and tactful:

You should never be rude or rough. This is evident in Yusuf’s use of words in the ayah in which Allah says what can be translated as, “O (you) two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he will give his lord wine to drink; and as for the other, then he will be crucified (and) so birds will eat of his head.” (TMQ, 12:41). Notice the use of the word ‘companions,’ which implies courtesy, and the use of the word ‘the other,’ which Yusuf (AS) politely and tactfully used on purpose so as not to tell the man directly about the most terrible end awaiting him.

A man came to Harun ar-Rashid to advise him (Harun), but he was so rude. Thus, Harun told him, “Tell me man, for Allah’s sake, who is worst before Allah, me or Pharaoh?” The man replied, “Pharaoh.” Harun asked him again, “And who is better before Allah, you or Musa (AS) (Moses)?” The man replied, “Musa.” Harun said, “So, man, Allah commanded the one who is better than you when he went to advise the one who is worse than me. Allah says what can be translated as, “speak leniently to him, …” (TMQ, 20:44).

12. Open up your heart to him/her:

Do not be mysterious. Yusuf (AS) in his speech to his companions told them about his family: his father Ya’qub (AS) (Jacob), his grandfather Ishaq (AS) (Isaac) and his eldest grandfather Ibrahim (AS) (Abraham). This came in the ayah where Allah says what can be translated as, “And I have closely followed the creed of my fathers, Ibrahim and Ishaq and Ya’qužb (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, respectively) …” (TMQ: 12:38).

When people feel that you are open and frank, not square and mysterious, they will be much easier to influence.

13. Zeal:

Allah says what can be translated as, "…. are many lords differing among themselves better, or the One Allah, Supreme and Irresistible?" (TMQ, 12:39).

If you adhere to this point, it will help you through a lot, because if it's found in you, you can learn and begin to apply it. Whereas everything you may have been through so far is theoretical, zeal however involves support and willpower. You will find that you may falter, you may be made fun of, and you may have to go through a lot to learn, as is found in this ayah, for if this is found, it will draw people closer to Allah and to their religion.

14. Patience with people's mistakes:

You call someone but he declines. Be patient. Sometimes you could ignore what he's done. Other times, you could express your anger to him. Other times, you could be a bit harsh on him.

Imam Abu-Hanifa had a neighbor who used to drink alcohol. When the Imam used to write down his knowledge, his neighbor used to drink and loudly say, "They have neglected me and I am not someone to be neglected." One day, the voice was no longer heard, and when the Imam asked about him, he was told that the young man was arrested by the police. So he went to the police and asked to bail him out; he was granted his request. On their way back home, the Imam didn't say a word; his silence spoke much louder. Upon their arrival, the Imam asked the young man if he thought he was still neglected. The young man agreed that he was not and vowed not to go back to booze.

What happened in that situation is art, and it resembles the story of Yusuf (AS), for one of the two people who were with him in prison used to brew liquor, but he spoke to him kindly and gently.

These were the 14 tips. The Qur’an is so great that scholars have found other implications within the very same verses. Other than learning how to call for the worship of Allah, the same ayahs teach the approaches of fatwa.

Fatwa scholars have a rule that if they are asked about a particular matter, they not only answer it but also explain to the enquirer the basis of their reply and its logical grounds.

If one, for example, asks about Qiyam al-Layl (night vigil prayer) and whether or not it is allowed to be offered directly after Ishaa' prayer.

Instead of just answering "Yes," one should also add that the appropriate time for Qiyam is any time between Ishaa' and Fajr (Dawn), and that Allah likes it best during the last third of the night. Also, with regards to the value of Qiyam is the Hadith of the Prophet (SAWS) saying, “Allah calls his servants in the last third of the night, Who is invoking Me so that I may answer him,” because He loves this time in particular.

From these same ayahs, Aqeedah scholars have organized the knowledge approach; when you talk to those who believe in several gods. First: the comparison between one God and several individual gods. Second: Clarification that the origin of the concept of polytheism is simply names given to those gods by humans.

Fiqh scholars, da’wa scholars, Aqeedah scholars, and even psychologists have all come up with several meanings from these ayahs. In the West, there is a theory that says should anyone come to you with an unsolvable problem, such as the person who was destined to be crucified in the story of Yusuf, it is not a good idea to simply tell him to be patient. However, one should turn that person's attention to the bright side, something he can hope for and look forward to. This is what Prophet Yusuf (AS) did when he tied the situation to Allah (SWT) ; the baker who was to be crucified found it helpful to think of the situation in that light, whereas the servant did not. We know this because he forgot about Yusuf (AS) after he was released from prison.

In Ayah 41, Allah says what can be translated as, “He said to the one which he thought will be free, mention me to you lord, but the Shaytan caused him to forget to mention to the lord, and he stayed in prison for several years”. Why did Yusuf (AS), in this ayah, "think" that one of them will be free, and in another ayah, he said it was inevitable? Is a dream inevitable or something open to several interpretations? If Yusuf (AS) is the most knowledgeable of all people about dreams, and on his dreams will be based the fate of people, why did he say, "I think?" How could we believe in soothsayers, and how could we be sleepless over a single dream that we saw. Dreams are inevitable in Allah's knowledge, but for us, they are sheer hunches.

And why did he say "lord?" Here, the word "lord" means "master," one who has authority and is to be obeyed. In this case, to the servant, the king holds such authority. To what degree is Allah given authority in your life and if His demands should conflict with the demands of others, who will you choose? Allah says in the ayah what can be translated as, "Do you see those whose god is their temptations" (TMQ, 25:43). If you find that your desires are in one hand and Allah's demands are in the other, and that the hand that holds your desires always outweighs the other, be afraid of this ayah.

Those who repent their sins, then fall back on them are far better than those who are chasing after their own desires for fifteen years.

When Abdul Muttalib, the Prophet's grandfather, went to Abraha to demand the return of his camels (that Abraha took), Abraha criticized him for ignoring the Ka'ba. Abdul Muttalib replied that the Ka'ba has a Lord protecting it, but I am the camel's lord and protector.

There are those who are blindly driven by women or the latest fads, as the Hadith says, "Miserable are those who worship the dirham, miserable are those who worship the dinar."

Some argue that "mention me to your lord" indicates a lack of trust in Allah; is this true? No, because there is no conflict between trusting in Allah and seeking the aid of another person. You look for a solution with the means you can afford, but your heart is wholly dedicated to Allah. They are two completely different things; you work together with other people and tell them what you wish them to do, yet deep in your heart you know they are not actually the ones who will get you what you want. Those who say I will not ask for anything because I trust in Allah are not considered reliant on Allah, but solely dependent on Him (without doing anything).

Here shows the Istikhara prayer. There is no relation between this particular prayer and a vision you see. The prayer consists of two prostrations; Istikhara means that you offer the prayer and you save yourself the trouble of having to choose what to do. After that, you say the supplication, “O Allah, I consult You as You are All-Knowing and I appeal to You to give me power as You are Omnipotent, I ask You for Your great favor, for You have power whereas I have not, and You know all of the hidden matters. O Allah! If You know that this matter is good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and for my life in the Hereafter, make it easy for me and if You know that this matter is not good for me in my religion, my livelihood and my life in the Hereafter, then keep it away from me and take me away from it and choose what is best for me wherever it is and please me with it, you are Most Merciful.” Ask for Allah's guidance in everything, from getting married to choosing college to working or studying abroad, and even for the shoes that you think of buying.

After offering the Istikhara prayer, you should do your part to look for a solution; for instance, if the matter in question is a marriage proposal, ask about the suitor; get to know him and his family. If you find that you are satisfied and have a peace of mind about the person and about the situation, trust in Allah and take the next step, and insh’Allah you will find good in it, just as you prayed. If, as another example, the matter is about working abroad, submit your papers (after you have prayed) and ask about your opportunities and do all that you can. If you find that you are satisfied with the way things turn out, proceed.

The one who trusts in Allah is really the happiest person in the world. We always meet some people who would not mind waiting for a doctor in his clinic for hours, whereas there is another doctor whose clinic is not overcrowded. Why would they do that? They trust that doctor.

When you trust your house to a person at the notary public office, you do so because you are certain that he will take care of it and do what is best for you and the house. So how can we trust others and think twice when it comes to trusting Allah?

A young man died at the age of 20, but his father's trust in Allah was so great, he was completely content with Allah's command. The father stood with his arms raised and thanked Allah for giving him his son for 20 years and prayed that the night of his son's death be the happiest night for him since his birth.

Can you be like that – whatever Allah gives you, you are content and satisfied. Our situation today is such that student could not sleep because he worries about his future, the mother could not sleep because she's worried about her unmarried daughter, and a man could not sleep because he worries about the way to make both ends meet.

Scholars say that people who get their money illegally cannot possibly be trusting in Allah, because Allah does not leave those who trust in Him get their money through dishonest means. The same is true for those who cry over who is going to take care of their children after they die – such people too do not place their trust entirely in Allah.

We ask Allah to grant us the gift of trusting in Him.

We come to another ayah, where Allah says what can be translated as, “And Shaytan caused him to forget to mention him to his lord, and [Yusuf] stayed in prison for several years." (TMQ, 12:42).

Prophet Yusuf (AS) was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment; the man who was with him was sentenced to two or three years, Prophet Yusuf (AS) stayed in prison for six more years.

Notice that all those who knew Yusuf (AS) had sold him or thrown him, like his brothers who threw him in the well, and the person who found him, sold him. His master (who bought him) sent him to prison. The master's wife chased after him and proclaimed her love for him, sent him to prison. The entire town and its women kept to themselves the secret of his innocence and blamed him for what happened, and his fellow inmate forgot about him once he was released.

This is a marvelous type of patience. At times, a person's character may become shaky, and one should not say, I tried to be a good person but I could not. If cheating is going on around him, he cheats. If there is lying, he lies. We should imitate Prophet Yusuf (AS); this Surah is for steadfastness in adhering to ethics.

Mothers and fathers, be patient, for no one was afflicted with as much misfortune as Prophet Yaqub (AS) (Jacob). Young men and women, stay away from temptation, for no one was tempted as much as Prophet Yusuf (AS).

In the ayah that follows, Allah says what can be translated as, "The King said I see seven fat cows eating seven thin ones, and seven green strands and seven more dry ones…oh people, explain to me these dreams if you indeed explain dreams." (TMQ, 12:43).

Here, Allah uses the word "king," even though He uses the word "pharaoh" when referring to Musa's story in Egypt…why? Historians and explorers discovered that there was a time when Egypt was ruled by the Huksoos, and leaders were kings and not pharaohs. Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (SAWS) knew this before anyone else in the world did.

The king first saw the seven fat cows, then he saw them eat the seven thin ones. The phrase "I see" means that he saw it in his dreams repetitively. Moreover, the phrase "Ta’buroon - explain" means that he believes there is a meaning behind his dreams that can be translated into reality and can benefit his people. From the word " Ta’buroon " the words "Ebra" and "Abra" are derived, which stand for "lesson" and "tear," respectively. The word "Ebra" denotes the journey of the tear from inside the eye to the outside. Also from the word “Ta’buroon" the word "Ebara," means something in the imagination is transferred to reality. Interpreting dreams means transforming them from being just a dream to reality.

Allah says what can be translated as, "They said it was a nightmare, and we do not know how to interpret dreams." TMQ, 12:44). From ancient ages until the present day, it is typical of Egyptians, to give their own interpretations even though they know nothing. They just could not help but interpret the dream. Sometimes they said it was just a nightmare. Then they said we do not know.

We have so far discussed three dreams: Prophet Yusuf's, his fellow inmates’, and the king's. It seems as though interpreting dreams was the fad of the time, and so Allah gave Prophet Yusuf a talent that would suit his people. Here, we learn that when we call people to Islam, we should speak to them in a language and from a point of view they can understand and relate to. We should not be different from them in the way we dress, the way we look, or the way we talk; all prophets of Allah had talents and skills suitable to their times.

This point has a lot to do with trusting in Allah. Allah (SWT) saves Prophet Yusuf (AS) through a dream, and it sounds as if He is telling him, I will save you through a dream. Who placed the king’s wine servant in prison so that he could see Prophet Yusuf? Allah did. And who caused the wine servant to see a dream so that he may remember Prophet Yusuf seven years later?

The meaning here is that Allah (SWT) can save man through as simple a thing as a dream.

Allah (SWT) loves to come to your aid and set you on the right path, even if it is by means you never expected or imagined. We see in the Qur’an an ayah where Allah says what can be translated as, “And we blessed him from places he did not expect” (TMQ, 65:3), and through this ayah Allah proves to us that He takes care of everything and is All-Knowing.

Thus, the Islamic Nation receives unexpected blessings. When Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was pelted with rocks when he went to Ta'if to call people to Islam, his efforts did not bear fruits, yet the Jinn were the ones who embraced Islam instead. Allah says what can be translated as, “And he who was spared, remembered, and said I will lead you to one who can interpret, so send me”. (TMQ, 12:45).

[1] SWT = Suhanahu wa Ta'ala = Glorified and Exalted Be He

[2] TMQ = Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[3] SAWS = Sala-llahu Alaihi Wa-Sallam (All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him).

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:32 AM

Yusuf (AS) – 7A

I seek refuge with Allah the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing from the cursed Satan. In the name of Allah (SWT), the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah (SWT), the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds and peace and blessings be upon our master, the most noble Prophet Muhammad (SAWS[1]). We praise Allah (SWT), thank Him, and seek His help, guidance and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah (SWT) from the evil in our souls and the sinfulness of our deeds. "He whom Allah guides, he is the rightly-guided; but he whom He sends astray, for him you will find no guiding advocate.” (TMQ, 18:17)[2]. May Allah (SWT) accept the steps we're taking to become closer to Him, and may He add them to the weight of our balance of good deeds. May Allah (SWT) always bring us together so that we obey Him and do what pleases Him.

We had stopped our lectures for two weeks because of Hajj (pilgrimage). May Allah (SWT) accept it from us and grant it to you all Inshaa Allah (Allah (SWT) willing). By Allah (SWT), my brothers and sisters, Hajj is for those who have Niyyah (intention). It is for those who have the intention in their hearts to go and perform Hajj. About three weeks before Hajj, I gave a seminar entitled ‘Hajj.’ I do not know if any of you attended it. However, at the end of that seminar I said that may be some of those who heard this lecture would be longing to Hajj and therefore would have the intention to perform it. I said that perhaps then Allah (SWT) would grant you a chance to perform Hajj even if there were only a few days left. During Hajj, I met some people who told me that after listening to the seminar I had given, they had a firm intention to perform Hajj, and started to make the necessary preparations. They said they felt that Allah (SWT) facilitated the whole process because of their sincere intention.

Actually, I do believe that Hajj is closely bound to intention - sincere intention made from the depth of your heart. If you sincerely intend to perform Hajj then Allah (SWT) will most definitely grant your wish. Therefore, pray to Allah (SWT) to bless you with a Hajj or an Umrah (minor Hajj) soon. It is not hard for Allah (SWT) to grant you, simple and poor, a journey to Hajj Inshaa Allah. Therefore, pray to Allah (SWT) with all the certainty that He will grant you, from among His servants, one of the most beautiful methods of worship that you can ever experience, in your early life.

There is a common misconception that Hajj and Umrah are for old people. No, by Allah (SWT)! When Hajj and Umrah are performed at a young age, they simply mean life-long righteousness. They make you determined to obey Allah (SWT), and keep you going for years to come. They restrain you from making sins that you would not imagine you can keep away from at such young age. Therefore, have the intention and Allah (SWT) will facilitate Hajj for you.

We are still discussing Surat (chapter) Yusuf. We had stopped at ayah (verse) 49, but I would first like to quickly go through some of the things we said last time for those of you who were not with us, and for those who were present as well. It won't be very quick really; what I'll do is this: I'll repeat the last part we had stopped at, starting from ayah 43. All the ayahs following are about the same topic. That is why I thought that it just won't be right if someone listened to the topic from the middle. The lessons included in this last part are of great importance and effect. Therefore, repeating it is of twofold benefit. Those of you who were here last time will have the benefit of reinforcing the meanings we pointed out last time, which I believe were very useful to all of us; and those who were not here will have the chance to grasp the story as a whole and benefit from the very same meanings we are talking about. Thus we will start from ayah 43 and finish at ayah 58, Inshaa Allah. Consequently we will have two or three more sessions left until we finish the whole Surah. Do you realize that we have met five or six times by now to discuss Surat Yusuf?

Please everybody, I have a request from those who attend, try to memorize Surat Yusuf. I do not claim that I give these lectures from my own head, or that I have a certain special gift. What I really do is read the interpretations of the Holy Qur’an by Sheikh al-Sha'rawy and that of the other Scholars of Qur’anic exegesis. Then I come out with the concepts I deliver to you. Thus, I am not coming up with any new ideas or meanings, and I am certainly not doing anything extraordinary. What I am doing is really very simple; I read a little bit more than you do and then tell you what I read. We are carefully explaining each ayah in Surat Yusuf. It is a great waste if you do not seize this chance and memorize this Surah! We recite ayahs from Surat Yusuf every time during the Maghreb (sunset) and Ishaa (evening) prayers, then we repeat and clarify each ayah. Furthermore, we take only seven or eight ayahs at a time. Therefore, please everyone should memorize this Surah. You can listen again to the previous lectures so that you would be able to learn the Surah by heart. Then, when you do learn it by heart, you will find yourself enjoying reciting it in the prayers because you understand what each part of the Surah means.

Let us begin with the story starting at ayah 43. The ayah is about the king's vision. Let us read the ayah first and then explain the vision. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And the king said, “Surely I (do) see (in a dream) seven plump cows which seven lean ones were eating, and seven green ears (of grain) and (seven) others dry. O you chiefs, pronounce about my vision in case you can explicate vision (s).” (TMQ, 12:43).

The king saw seven fat cows, seven full and plump cows. Then suddenly, they were eaten by seven very thin cows. It would have been more logic if the seven fat cows had eaten the thin ones, right? However, the king first said, "Surely I (do) see (in a dream) seven plump cows …" then he said, “which seven lean ones were eating.” Therefore, the fat cows were in the fore part, and then the thin ones left no trace of them.

The next part of the vision is “seven green ears (of grain).” The king then saw seven ears full of grain and wheat Mashaa Allah. However, then came “(seven) others dry” that spiraled around the seven green ears of grain and finished them off. What a strange vision indeed! The king then said “O you chiefs, pronounce about my vision.”

It is obvious that at that time, dream interpretations were very common. Do you see how many visions we have passed by until now? There are many indeed. There is the vision of Prophet Yaqub (AS) (Jacob), then Prophet Yusuf’s (AS) (Joseph) at the beginning, then this vision referred to just now and also the visions of the two prisoners. Therefore, at that time in Egypt, dream interpretations seemed to be of great interest among people. It was so important that the king might gather his entourage and never allow them to leave until they give him an interpretation for his vision.

His entourage said what can be translated as, "Jumbled dreams. And in no way are we knowledgeable about the interpretation of dreams.” (TMQ, 12:44).

When the king asked his question, his entourage knew they had to give an answer, so they said, "Jumbled dreams.” However, they were afraid they might be mistaken; they were not sure if that was a nightmare or a vision. Thus, after saying it was a nightmare, they frankly said, "And in no way are we knowledgeable about the interpretation of dreams.” (TMQ, 12:44).

Moving on, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And the one who (was) delivered of the two said and recollected after some time, “I will (myself) fully inform you of its interpretation. So send me forth." (TMQ, 12:45). The Arabic term used in this ayah “Edakara” means he thought deeply and remembered with great difficulty. That man is the prisoner whose dream the Prophet Yusuf (AS) had interpreted earlier. Would you believe it? He had forgotten Prophet Yusuf (AS)! Everyone seemed to have forgotten you, Prophet Yusuf (AS)! However, at last he remembered him!

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Yžusuf, O you (man) constantly sincere, pronounce to us regarding seven plump cows which seven lean ones were eating, and seven green ears (of grain) and (seven) others dry, that possibly I would return to (all) people that possibly they would know." (TMQ, 12:46). The man here is using the same words that the king had used. He used the king’s words literally word by word. This indicates how accurate the man was in relating the king's dream. If you compare this ayah with the one preceding it, you will find the same words used. "That possibly I would return to (all) people," shows that everyone was waiting to know the interpretation of the vision of the king. The whole palace is waiting; "that possibly I would return to (all) people that possibly they would know."

Prophet Yusuf (AS) then started to interpret the king's dream. Let us listen to these ayahs first before I explain them. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “ He said, “You will plant seven years after your steadfast manner; so, what you have harvested, then leave out in the ear, excepting a little of which you eat. Thereafter; even after that, (there) will come up seven strict (years), that will eat whatever you have forwarded to them, excepting a little of what you safely attend to. Thereafter, even after that, (there) will come up a season wherein all people will be succored, and wherein they press (i.e., they press olives and grapes (because the harvest is good).” (TMQ, 12:47-49).

These three ayahs, as I mentioned last time, are of the most beautiful ayahs that you can read and understand in the Qur’an. In fact, they include some sort of a great methodology which we shall explain in a minute. However, before I do that, I shall explain Prophet Yusuf’s interpretation of the king’s vision.

Prophet Yusuf's interpretation was as follows: there would be seven years of prosperity in which Egyptian land would produce in abundance. That was what the ‘seven fat cows’ meant. This being the case, he said that they should make great effort to plant as much crops as they can, and to develop and enhance the revenue. They have to increase the production of crops as much as possible in these seven fertile years. He then told them, "so, what you have harvested, then leave out in the ear, excepting a little of which you eat.” What for? The seven years to follow that would be years of hardship; “… that will eat whatever you have forwarded to them.”

Alright then, there will be seven prosperous years in Egypt, therefore try to do your best. Work hard on planting crops; increase the production as much as you can and whatever you harvest keep it in its ears. Now, why is that? Why did he say, "So, what you have harvested, then leave out in the ear?” It is because that way it would not decay. If you take the seeds out of their ears and store them in a warehouse, what happens after a while? They decay. Now, they wouldn't want that to happen. They want the harvest to last all through the seven years of drought so they would find something to eat. Thus, for seven years, they should leave the harvest in its ears, look after it well and store it. Later on, when the seven difficult years start, they should take only what is necessary to feed the people, so that there would be enough to last through such years.

The first seven good years end, then the next seven difficult years begin, and eventually these end too. In the following ayah, ayah 49, Allah (SWT) said what can be translated as, "Thereafter, even after that, (there) will come up a season wherein all people will be succored, and wherein they press (i.e., they press olives and grapes (because the harvest is good)." (TMQ, 12:49). Therefore, after the seven fertile years and after the seven difficult ones, a year will come in which there will be abundant rain and in which they will press wine and oil. What will happen? There will be prosperity again; "people will be succored.” That means that they will be relieved; they will find plenty of food. Ya’siroun (press) comes from the word ‘assir (juice). People will begin to make juices after they eat to their full. They will press sugar-cane, olives, sesame, etc. However, this can not happen until they grow these crops first.

To recapitulate what we've said so far, Prophet Yusuf (AS) said that there would be seven years when food would be in great amounts. Therefore, they should increase their crop production, so there would be enough food to sustain people during the following seven years of drought. However, Prophet Yusuf (AS) warned them from storing the crops in warehouses in the seven fertile years, and told them to keep them in their ears. Subhan Allah (Praise be to Allah (SWT)) this is the strangest method of food storage known to Arabs. I was surprised to know that the Egyptian Museum still keeps traces of some ears dating back to ancient Egypt. I don’t know if they are from Prophet Yusuf's time or not. No one really knows, and we have no evidence of that. However, it is obvious that this was the storage technique they had been using since then. Prophet Yusuf (AS) also warned them not to be careless and eat lavishly during the seven difficult years. The reason behind that is to keep enough seeds to plant in the year during which people “… will be succored, and wherein they press (i.e., they press olives and grapes).” In other words, a special harvest should be stored to be used only in the year following the two sets of seven years. What does that mean? During the seven difficult years, people should not finish off all the wheat and the grain but keep some for the year in which they “… will be succored, and wherein they press (i.e., they press olives and grapes).” so that they would have enough seeds to start planting again.

This is the interpretation of prophet Yusuf (AS) as given in the above three ayahs. Last time, we pointed out several beautiful themes in these three ayahs. Let us point them out again and enjoy their meaning. The first point is, “… He said, ‘You will plant seven years after your steadfast manner.’” Do you know when Prophet Yusuf (AS) said these words? Was it while he was in prison or when he came out? Well, he said these words while he was still in prison. He was still a prisoner. He has been unjustly put in prison for nine years for a moral crime which he never committed. Moreover, those who unjustly threw him in prison are the same people who need his help now. If you were in his place what would you do? What would you say? Can you imagine what you would say? You would probably give them a piece of your mind and then tell them to release you first before giving them any interpretations. Right? Perhaps you would do something else. Perhaps you would say, release me first then I will tell you what you want, then, after being released, you just give them the wrong answer and flee the country. You might also say, “I don't want to be released! Go to hell, all of you! I don't mind dying if you will all die as well!” You know something? Some religious people might do just that; they might do any of the things we've just mentioned.

Do you realize what Prophet Yusuf (AS) did? Not only did he interpret the vision, he also gave them a solution to their problem. Instead of the ayahs you have just heard, he could have just said there will be seven fertile years in Egypt followed by seven years of drought which will finish off all the harvest planted in the first seven years, and that is it! This way he would have given them the interpretation they asked for, wouldn't he? However, Prophet Yusuf (AS) did not do that. He gave them the solution to their problem straight away. He told them the interpretation is so and so and the solution is so and so. Let us just imagine what he would have done if he was, pardon me for saying this, a sly person like some of us are. He would have, for example, told them the interpretation but kept the details of the storage policy to himself. Right? There are some employees in companies who do that; if their manager asks them about something, they give him only part of the solution and keep the rest to themselves so that they will always be needed. Aren’t there people who do this sort of thing? Those of you, who do that, please listen! If you are doing this on the pretext of low salaries, if you say that the effort you exert in work is what your employers deserve in return for the poor salary they pay. If you are saying that your employers are being unfair, let me ask you this question: didn’t you agree to work on these terms? If you did, then you must be honest and conscientious. You have signed a contract; you have agreed to work with them, so you just can't say, "they are getting the work they deserve for their poor salary.” It is like saying, “The more the allowance I get from my father, the more hard work in studying he gets from me!" Things just don't work that way.

If you have signed a contract to work in a company then you must put all your effort into your work. Surat Yusuf tackles many issues. I say to the people sitting here now who work or study, I am taking issues out of this Surah that you can work with in real life. These issues prepare you to do the right thing in your work or studies. O young students here, you see, at the moment you are fine men and your hands are not polluted yet by haram (forbidden) money. Your minds, also, are not polluted yet by thinking of using the dishonest ways that are full of lies and cheating. Therefore, do not cheat in exams while you are in college. Whoever cheats today will get used to it even if he/she has a pure personality and a fine character. Whoever can cheat as a student would probably do the same thing after graduating. It becomes a habit. You see, if you cheat now and you are a student, you really are not getting money from anyone. However, when you cheat after you graduate at work, your salary becomes haram money and the food that you buy to eat from this money also becomes haram. Then after a while, you will be feeding your own children haram food.

Cheating is not only about passing an exam or being haram or halal (allowed). It is much bigger than that. It is about the shaping of a person’s character that will play a role in society when he/she becomes an adult. This is indeed a very important issue and it is not an excuse to say, “I will give them exactly as much as I get from them.” Didn’t you accept the position and sign the work contract? Then you have to fulfill your full obligation as an employeemes Haram food. m money Haram g after he/she graduate.e/she has a pur, regardless if you are in need or not. Remember the person who was in prison. Learn from Prophet Yusuf (AS)! He was imprisoned unjustly and was asked for help by the people who put him there. He gave them what they needed and did not hold a grudge towards them. How could he not? Amazing! Didn’t I tell you that those three ayahs are very important? Therefore, what do we learn from these ayahs? This religion, Islam, teaches us to put all our effort at work for the benefit of people and not wait to receive anything in return. Do not let grudge, jealousy and spitefulness refrain you from helping people to live a good life. Do you know how to do this? You do it by taking the animosity out of your heart.

Do you see how pure Prophet Yusuf’s heart is? Not only did he tell them what they needed and give them the solution to the problem in the vision, but he also did something that is even more beautiful than what has been already mentioned.

Did not the vision say seven years plus another seven years? Then how come this ayah appears here, "Thereafter, even after that, (there) will come up a season wherein all people will be succored, and wherein they press (i.e., they press olives and grapes (because the harvest is good)." (TMQ, 12:49).

It is not included in the vision at all! From where did Prophet Yusuf (AS) deduce this idea? He thought about the dream and came up with this solution. That is how he got it. Prophet Yusuf (AS) thought that after the seven good years and then the seven difficult ones, i.e. after 14 years, the calamity will end and thus the year after that would be prosperity coming back to Egypt once again. After reading these ayahs, you find that Prophet Yusuf (AS) is not like a normal human being praying in the Masjid and reciting the Qur'an only while detaching himself from worldly issues. He did indeed understand how life works and can think of plans to apply in life. In fact he showed here that his thinking was at a very conscientious level. He also showed that he was far-sighted and had creative ideas for the future.

Therefore, Prophet Yusuf (AS) concluded that the year after the two sets of seven years (14 altogether) will certainly come as a year full of comfort. Rain will increase. Water supply will be abundant because the Nile will be flowing again. Consequently, Prophet Yusuf (AS) gave them another key solution in addition to that of the storage policy. He advised them to store an extra supply of harvest in the seven good years because they will need seeds to sow when the flourishing year comes. Honestly speaking, I have stressed on this meaning of the ayah and I am emphasizing this point again. The reason is that I feel that when reading Surat Yusuf, we need to deduce some valuable points. The important point in this ayah stresses that dedication to your work is most important regardless of how much money you get paid, the reason being that you have given your word and have agreed to work there in the first place.

Moreover, this ayah reminds you to be dedicated to your studies at college because you have taken the place of another human being who wishes to but cannot be in your place. Therefore, fear Allah (SWT) and be dedicated to your studies rather than cheating in your exams. You should also give all your effort to your academic work. What an amazing religion is this! How could people, after this explanation, say that this religion is one that promotes violence? How could people say that this religion encourages terrorism after learning that it teaches us to give all we have at work or studies and not to expect to get anything in return? Who, after learning this, can say Islam is a religion of terrorism? Who, after this, can go and kill people or destroy their lives? Can't you see the mercy in this religion? It tells you to put your best effort into your work even if you were treated unjustly. Further more, if putting all one’s effort into something to benefit all people is expected from a person who is treated unjustly, what then would be expected from a justly treated person? Unbelievable! How could people speak unjustly of Islam from now on?

Moreover, there is an even more interesting point here. Were these people Muslims or disbelievers? Are the people of Egypt and the king believers or disbelievers? Do you remember the ayahs we said a short while ago? Remember the two prisoners when Prophet Yusuf (AS) said what can be translated as “Are (some) disunited lords more charitable (i.e., better) or Allah, The One, The Superb Vanquisher?” (TMQ, 12:39). Therefore, they were not believers. Then how come Prophet Yusuf (AS) helped them? Will he give the solution to disbelievers? Let me ask you another question. Did the king enter Islam afterwards? The ayahs do not say so, but why isn’t it mentioned in the ayahs? Before, when I used to read Surat Yusuf, I used to wonder why it is not clearly mentioned in the Qur'an if the people of Egypt and the king converted into Islam or not. Guess why? It wasn’t mentioned so that you wouldn’t be preoccupied with this issue rather than the main one, which is that we will help people even if they are disbelievers. Do you understand this meaning? It is not mentioned in the Qur'an what happened to the people of Egypt in this story so that we will not be too preoccupied with it. We would then think that this is why Prophet Yusuf (AS) helped them, so that they would become Muslims.

Prophet Yusuf (AS) helped them because if a Muslim finds people having difficulties with something, he has to help them. Let us say that a Muslim is in a country all too far from Islam. Furthermore, let us say that the whole country fights Islam and is totally against Islam. Now let us imagine that they got a disease that could destroy the whole country, Anthrax for instance. Let us then imagine that a Muslim has a solution to this problem. Should he say it or should he let them die? Do you believe that according to Surat Yusuf he has to tell them? It is right here! Prophet Yusuf (AS) told them the whole solution when they were disbelievers, but he knew that it meant the destiny of the whole country. He knew it meant that the poor people will starve. There will be famine that will be very disastrous, and he has the solution to it. He can’t possibly hide it. He can’t be the reason for those people dying. They are poor people who need help. Prophet Yusuf (AS) could not take the fact that he had the solution and not help them. As a Muslim, he has to help even if they are disbelievers, he should not hide the solution. Can you imagine what religion this is, that teaches us these morals? Can you see the mercy in this religion? Prophet Yusuf (AS) did not even put a condition that they become Muslims before helping them. These, dear brothers, are the characteristics of a real Muslim, he should not want to destroy everything around him to take revenge. We, as true Muslims want goodness for people. We want to guide everyone to obey Allah (SWT) through the easiest, most pleasant and most merciful manner we possess. This religion wants goodness to the world.

There is also a third important point in this part. Throughout these three ayahs, it seems that Prophet Yusuf (AS) obeys only Allah (SWT). However, imagine if Prophet Yusuf (AS) is a member of a particular sect or group working for its own motives and objectives and forgetting about obeying Allah (SWT). What would he have done? What would he have said? Prophet Yusuf (AS) is not demanding anything to benefit a particular group or a particular sect. He is only doing this to gain the pleasure of no one but Allah (SWT). It is no use to restrict Islam to a particular group or a certain sect. A Muslim’s objective is to help humanity regardless if he was a follower of a certain group or a sect. We do not want to restrict Islam. We want pure and perfect Islamic practices, and this Qur'an.

The fourth point is a meaningful one too. These three ayahs mentioned above have become witness to some big parts in economic science in modern times. The West currently claims that they have the greatest civilized economic system on earth. Listen carefully to what I am going to say. The following point is very important in our time. Any progress in a civilization, my dear brothers, needs the following three factors to succeed:

1. Materialistic factor
2. Spiritual factor
3. Moral factor

It is not possible for any civilization to settle on earth without having these three factors. The Western civilization has become vastly superior in materialism. Frankly, no civilization, since the time of Prophet Adam (AS), has reached the level of success, in the materialistic area, of the current Western civilization. Put in mind, though, that this success did not happen without us playing a major role. On the other hand, this civilization is lacking spiritualities. If it does address spiritualities, it is nil. How about the moral factor? It is always linked to materialism. This civilization promotes the emphasis of possessing morals to be used in increasing earnings. If for instance, they noticed with us that when we say the truth we sell more, they automatically have to be truthful because it aids with money making. Therefore the main factor which makes this civilization exist is money earnings. Meanwhile, it ignores the spiritual factor that can make it prolong its existence. Furthermore, if a moral does not serve the purpose of gaining money, then this moral will not be needed. As a result, another practice is immediately adopted in opposition to this ‘useless’ moral. Take for instance, if one day the electric current in one of the major cities is cut off, you will find on the next day that the city is plundered. It happens because the ruling agent in this case is materialism and not the constant principles of morality that our Prophet Yusuf (AS) had. I am telling you this to state the fact that the only civilization which adopted all these three aspects is the Islamic one. It had:

1. Solid morals that have nothing to do with materialism. They are existing morals that stand out for their own such as Prophet Yusuf's morals.

2. Spiritual aspects. Mashaa Allah such as Salat al-Jumu'ah (Friday congregation prayer), Hajj, Umrah, the five obligatory prayers, reciting the Holy Qur’an and various other methods of worship that make a person closer to Allah (SWT).

3. Don't we have the materialistic factor in Islam? Of course we do.

I am listing this because I want to explain how these three ayahs are the greatest reference about laws regarding financial earnings in Islam. Let us read the ayahs again, “You will plant seven years after your steadfast manner.” (TMQ, 12:47). Let us apply this ayah to our time and I will use some modern terminology. Looking at this ayah, you would be certain that Prophet Yusuf (AS) is an expert in economic studies. Read the ayah again. The first part in this ayah is, “You will plant seven years after your steadfast manner,” i.e. in modern economic terminology this means increase in production. Right? Notice that Prophet Yusuf (AS) is planning for the 15 years ahead. He has a permanent plan that does not need to be adjusted every three years. On the contrary, it is unchangeable. His economic plan is as follows.

The first objective is to greatly increase production in the first half of the plan, "You will plant seven years after your steadfast manner.” This means a decrease and rationalization in harvest consumption .i.e. harvest will be used only according to the basic needs during the seven years. Secondly, "so, what you have harvested, then leave out in the ear.” It is a storage policy we may call it a storage policy inside the ears of grain. Thirdly, "…excepting a little of which you eat." (TMQ, 12:47). What can we call this one? Here Prophet Yusuf (AS) is using ration cards for food consumption. Do you remember the ration cards we used to have here some years ago? It is the same. In the ayah that can be translated as, “… whoever comes up with it shall have a camel’s burden…” (TMQ, 12:72). What do we understand from this? Prophet Yusuf (AS) prevented anyone to get more than one camel burden or load. This way there will not be monopolization. Therefore, ayah 48 which can be translated as, “that will eat whatever you have forwarded to them" (TMQ, 12:48) and “a camel’s burden” come to prevent monopolization.

Actually, the seven hard years prevailed in all of the Middle East and not only in Egypt. Consequently, all the countries of that area were suffering from the famine. However, Egypt; this great country, was able to support all the other countries with supplies. During the seven hard years, people were coming to Egypt in order to load, and from this point, the new policy of the "camel’s burden" began.

Furthermore, there is one more policy. One final policy in these three ayahs, "… Thereafter, even after that, (there) will come up a season wherein all people will be succored, and wherein they press (i.e., they press olives and grapes (because the harvest is good)" (TMQ, 12:49). This in modern terminology means a preparation of necessary resources until the time of prosperity. Thus, there are six policies to be applied in 15 years.

Last time we discussed these ayahs, and I was pointing out the uniqueness of Prophet Yusuf (AS). I wondered which type of a person he is. Is he a person with high morals, or one who makes sure not to commit anything haram with the woman who wants lewdness? Is he a preacher to Allah (SWT) in prison or a vision interpreter? Is he a person who possesses extraordinary patience while being in prison or maybe an economic expert? Which one is he exactly? He is all of that because he understands what Islam is all about. He, who assumes that Islam is only about praying in a Masjid and learning the Qur'an or wearing a scarf, does not truly understand what Islam is all about. Islam is about success in life. It is about morals that do not change. It is about good treatment of people. It is about practice of sports to keep your body healthy. Imagine? All that is what Islam is all about? All that is what is needed from Muslims?

Continuing on, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And the king said, “Come up with him (i.e., Bring him) to me!” Then as soon as the messenger came to him, he (Yûsuf) said, “Return to your lord and so ask him, what about the women folk who severely cut (The Arabic verb form implies an action that is done repeatedly or to high degree or to a great extent) their hands? Surely my Lord is Ever-Knowing of their scheming." (TMQ, 12:50).

It is obvious here that Prophet Yusuf (AS) had a big effect on the king. The king ordered that Prophet Yusuf (AS) must be brought to him. He must have thought that the person who came up with the interpretation must be a genius and was astonished that he was a prisoner. Therefore, quickly, the messenger hurried to bring Prophet Yusuf (AS) to the king. What did Prophet Yusuf (AS) say after spending nine years in prison? Imagine! He said "Return to your lord.” Read the ayah again then stop at this expression, “Return to your Lord.” Let us say if you were in prison for nine years (Allah (SWT) forbids) and then someone told you, you are free to go, would you say return back? Can you imagine how patient Prophet Yusuf (AS) is? Comparing what Prophet Yusuf (AS) said nine years before and what he said here, we find an amazing lesson. Earlier, Prophet Yusuf (AS) was saying, "Mention me in the presence of your lord," (TMQ, 12:42) but this time he said "Return to your Lord." (TMQ, 12:50). Why did he say that? Well, nine years ago Prophet Yusuf (AS) was thinking of the reasons he was put in prison i.e. he was thinking, “I am unjustly put here; I need the king to know about this injustice.”

However, after nine years he told the messenger, "Return to your lord.” He wanted the king to investigate into his case before he would be released. He did not worry that the messenger may go and never come back nor did he think that he has to be released first then ask for the king to look into his story. He chose not to go out of prison before an investigation took place. Why? Why did he do that? Why did Prophet Yusuf (AS) want an investigation in his case to be carried out first before he was released? Well, he wanted the king to know that he has the right to be released. He could have, after being released, seen the king and told him his story then the king would have looked into his case and investigated it, especially after the effect he had on him. Hence, the king did not see Prophet Yusuf (AS) yet and so he does not know him. The king could have become upset after hearing Prophet Yusuf’s message “Return to your Lord.” Then he could have decided to let him stay in prison forever. Right? It was possible.

Why did Prophet Yusuf (AS) insist on this decision? Simply, Prophet Yusuf (AS) was a preacher who carried a special message. His main concern was to guide people to the truth and help them even if he was unjustly put in prison on an honor charge. People would not believe him if he has accepted to be free without an investigation to prove his innocence. If he was to accept his freedom and then approach the king to look into his story, it would have been considered a matter of favors. People could have thought that the king was forced to solve his case as a compliment to Prophet Yusuf (AS) because he needed him to carry out the project of the economic plan. Therefore, Prophet Yusuf (AS) could have never accepted to be released before the investigation had taken place. He was a man of Da'wa (missionary activity for Islam). He was bound by his message to stay in prison. He must have said to himself, “I have to cope with the hardship of imprisonment until the case is resolved. People shall believe that I am released because I am innocent. This way when I do get released, people will believe me and believe in my message and then I could guide them to the truth.”

Can you imagine how precious the Da’wa is to Prophet Yusuf (AS)? He was given the choice between freedom and his ability to carry out the Da’wa and he chose the latter. Here is another part where constant morals are stressed in this Surah. Throughout this Surah, undeviating morals are portrayed as highly essential. Prophet Yusuf (AS) is a perfect example of such. On one hand, you see Prophet Yusuf (AS) as a person who has great undeviating morals whereas on the other hand, today, you see people who feel that they need to adjust their morals according to the situation in hand. There are some people who make many mistakes to keep their current employment, resulting in ruining their credibility, their self-respect and self-trust. However, Prophet Yusuf (AS) showed that he always took the right decisions, ones that increased his self-respect, steadfastness and purity. He did not prefer to be freed in order to live and eat. He wanted to come out of prison as a preacher to Allah (SWT). We are living in a world where you see people living contentedly that they eat, drink and that is it. They do not think of being preachers to the truth even if they do not experience prison, oppression or harassment.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “Enjoin good and forbid evil otherwise Allah (SWT) shall punish you severely. Then you pray to Him and He will never respond to you.” (Good Hadith, narrated by Hudhaifa Sunnan At-Tirmidhi, No .2259.).

Allah (SWT) also says what can be translated as, "And who is fairer in speech than he who calls to Allah, and does righteousness, and says, ‘Surely I (myself) am one of the Muslims?’ (i.e. those who surrender (to Allah).” (TMQ, 41:33).

Allah (SWT) has only distinguished us from other people because of this Da’wa. In Surat al-Imran, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, " You have been the most charitable nation brought out to mankind: you command beneficence, and forbid maleficence, and believe in Allah. And if the population of the Book (Or: Family of the Book; i.e., the Jews and Christians) believed, it would indeed have been charitable for them; (some) of them are the believers, and the majority of them are the immoral.” (TMQ, 3:109).

Allah (SWT) first mentioned al-Ma'ruf (the beneficence) and the forbiddance of al-Munkar (the maleficence) before Iman (faith) in Him. Read this ayah again, read it carefully. “You have been the most charitable nation brought out to mankind.” Why? Well, because, “you command beneficence, and forbid maleficence.” However, we do that in the most pleasant manner without harming or oppressing people. “Forbid maleficence and believe in Allah,” it is by this order that Muslims were distinguished by Allah (SWT) from other races. Scholars were baffled by the order of the meaning of this ayah. They suggested that initially Iman in Allah (SWT) should be mentioned before the enjoyment of beneficence and the forbiddance of maleficence. Why is the order reversed? The reason is so that there will not be people saying, "I am waiting to strengthen my faith then I will guide my friends to the truth.” Therefore, the order in this ayah shows that the two factors are unrelated and separate things.

One of the scholars said these beautiful words, "No one of you should say, ‘I will not preach to Allah (SWT) until my Iman (faith) is complete.’ If you say that, then you are in one of two situations. Either the time comes where you say my Iman is now complete, and then you know for sure that you have certainly gone astray, or you may die and your Iman will still be incomplete.” Therefore, logically speaking, you have two options if you say, “I have to wait until my Iman is complete in order to be able to guide my friends to the truth.” The first option is that you die and your faith is incomplete. The second option is that one day will come and you will say Alhamdulillah (thanks be to Allah (SWT)) my faith is now complete so I am able to guide my friend. In such case you have gone astray! Thus what is the solution? Take the two options together. You help people and at the same time you increase your Iman. You might say, “But I do not have enough knowledge.” Well, the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “Report, on my behalf, even if it is but one ayah.” (Authentic Hadith, narrated by Abdullah Ibn Amr, Sahih Bukhari, 3274). Therefore, as long as you understand one ayah in the Qur'an, you must tell people about it. Do not give a fatwa (legal ruling), but tell people about it. Moreover, Imam Ahmad Ibn-Hanbal says, “He who knows about an issue becomes knowledgeable in it.”

Don’t you know something? If you did know it, you tell it to people.

Prophet Yusuf (AS) did not want to be released from prison without proving his innocence first. He wanted to be known as an honest person because he had a job to do after being released, to do Da’wa to Allah (SWT). Therefore, in order to let people see him, respect him and believe him, he had to remain faultless. Da’wa was indeed precious to Prophet Yusuf (AS). Why don't you make it precious to you too? You will be precious to Allah (SWT) too. Be assured that being in a position to do Da'wa to Allah (SWT) is that of the Prophets. Whoever guides people to the right path of Allah (SWT) is performing an act that belongs to the Prophets. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) says, “That Allah may guide a man through you is better to you than all the extravagant goods and better to you than the whole world and what is in it.” (Authentic Hadith, narrated by Sahl Ibn-Sa’ad, Sahih Bukhari, 2783. Also, narrated by Sahl Ibn-Sa’ad, Sahih Muslim, 2406).

Therefore, we learn this principle as well as another one which is that we have to be of the utmost care to purify our reputation just like Prophet Yusuf (AS). He was very careful about his reputation in front of people, which is why he said, “Return to your Lord.”

The next point is also a beautiful part in the Surah. "What about the women folk who severely cut (The Arabic verb form implies an action that is done repeatedly or to high degree or to a great extent) their hands?” (TMQ, 12:50). Isn't it a strange question? Why did Prophet Yusuf (AS) say this? What do you think? If you were in his place what would you say? You would probably say, "Ask him about the wife of al-Aziz who has torn my shirt while seducing me.” Right? Yusuf (AS) did not specify her at all so as not to hurt her feelings. Can you imagine that Prophet Yusuf (AS) did not specifically mention her name so that her reputation will not be spoken ill of? Amazing! These days, you hear people talking about reputations of others all the time. They see a woman at work or at college, and they start, “she did this and that.” It has become very natural in our lives to talk about people's reputation, while here we see Prophet Yusuf (AS) who was imprisoned unjustly not mentioning the name of the woman who put him there, so her reputation would not be on the line. Notice the expression used in the ayah, "maa baal (what happened),” generalizes the enquiry. Hence he refused to mention any woman's name in particular. Instead, he left the question in general terms to protect the reputation of the woman who was the reason of him being unjustly imprisoned. Therefore, be careful when speaking about people. It was narrated by Abu-Huraira that he heard Allah's Apostle saying, "A slave of Allah may utter a word without thinking whether it is right or wrong, he may slip down in the fire as far away a distance equal to that between the East." (Authentic Hadith, Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 484).

You should be very careful about what you say concerning people, because one word may lead you to hell. Do not talk about their honor and their dignity. Sisters, be careful about what you say to your friends when talking together over the telephone. Backbiting does not necessarily have to be in words. It can take the form of gestures and whispers. If a sister, for instance, says, “This woman, only Allah knows,” and then silence. The expression "Allahu A'lam" (only Allah (SWT) knows) followed by a silence moment is seen by Allah (SWT) as backbiting too. Allah (SWT) has forbid us to talk about the honor and dignity of people. Therefore, be careful of what your tongue utters. Remember the person who was imprisoned unjustly and wanted to be set free but did not say a specific name of a woman to get his freedom. Can you see how steadfast Prophet Yusuf’s morals were? His morals made him not mention a specific name when he requested the king to look into his case.

The next part of this ayah is much more meaningful. “What about the women folk who severely cut (The Arabic verb form implies an action that is done repeatedly or to high degree or to a great extent) their hands?” Why did Prophet Yusuf (AS) say “cut their hands” rather than “seduce?” It would have been more logical since the seduction of Prophet Yusuf (AS) occurred more than the cutting of the hands. He did not mention anyone at all. This is indeed an intelligent maneuver. Perhaps when the king is told that the prisoner does not want to be released until an investigation took place around the women who have seduced him, it will not be much of a headline. The king would neither care nor would he give it any attention. He would not think of going into a hassle over it and decides to let Prophet Yusuf (AS) stay in prison.

However, Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to use words that are full of suspense that trigger the curiosity of the king. It is like exactly, for example, if I say to you, “Did you hear of the news about those women who have cut their hands in Ma’adi (a district in Cairo)?” Then half of you people here will go home today and ask about the news of the women who cut their hands in Ma’adi, it is headline news: Ma’adi women are cutting their hands as we speak. Prophet Yusuf (AS) wants the king to be that curious. He wants him to ask more about the story. The king will think, cutting their hands? Who cut their hands? Bring this matter to attention at once! Therefore, Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to be released innocent but only after an investigation. The way to do this was to trigger the king’s curiosity into the matter without mentioning the names of anyone to protect their reputations. There were three issues that he had to deal with:

1. To be found innocent before getting released

2. Not to say the names of the women who hurt him and imprisoned him unjustly. It is not good to talk about the reputation of people.

3. At the same time, to make the king curious and attentive to his case.

Thus, what did he do? Read the wording of this ayah carefully, “(Yusuf) said, ‘Return to your lord and so ask him. What about the women folk who severely cut (The Arabic verb from implies an action that is done repeatedly or to high degree or to a great extent) their hands?’ Surely my Lord is Ever-Knowing of their scheming.” (TMQ, 12:50). What happened to the king? How did he react? He found the messenger he sent returning to him saying that the prisoner does not want to be released until his innocence is proven in the case of the women who cut their hands. That way the king was curious straight away. Read the next ayah where Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “He said (i.e., the king said to the women), ‘What was your concern as you solicited Yužsuf?’” (TMQ, 12:51).

Do you notice here that the king left the investigation to the judge or did he himself investigate the matter? He investigated the matter himself. Therefore, Prophet Yusuf’s words did indeed have an effect on the king. This is the work of an intelligent Muslim indeed. Some people cannot do what Prophet Yusuf (AS) did. They will be contended to keep quiet because they do not want to hurt people’s feelings and talk about their reputation. They would not stand up for their rights and keep silent while people oppress them. Their excuse would be that they are religious and thus keep silent while people laugh at their silence and for not standing up for their rights. You look at such people before becoming religious and you find them very courageous and intelligent taking their rights bravely. However, they become very passive and meek after becoming more religiously conscious. I want to say to such people, please stay as you were and do not change the good qualities you had.

Islam does not want you to be gullible nor does it want you to be extravagant. It wants you to be versatile and not meek. Learn from Prophet Yusuf’s intelligence in this ayah. Therefore, Prophet Yusuf (AS) thought of protecting the feelings as well as the reputations of the women and at the same time thinking of getting his freedom. He then thought of the message of the story of the women who cut their hands. This way the king will be curious enough to investigate the matter. Learn from this way of thinking. Learn to be religious but not meek, to be religious and practical so people will not humiliate you. Is the meaning clear to all of you now?

The king asked, “What was your concern as you solicited Yusuf?” This is strange. It seems that there is a missing part between this ayah and the previous one, a part that is not mentioned. That part is about what the king did before he interrogated the women. It means that the king knew all about what happened before he had met the women. Imagine if the women were in front of the king before he investigated in the matter, would this question look natural? It seems that the king had already done some investigation in the matter and came out with this conclusion. Didn’t I say that this Surah addresses almost everything? It is beneficial in all issues.

It is said that the basis of criminal investigation is to collect enough information before any interrogation happens. Can you see the hints in all types of sciences in this Surah? A little earlier, we were discussing matters that deal with economics then we moved to ‘having steadfast manners’ and now discussed criminal investigation.

Therefore, the king collected the information first in order to make the whole case understandable to him. This way he will not use the same question as Prophet Yusuf’s, “why did you cut your hands?” He will ask a clearer question, “What was your concern as you solicited Yusuf?” This means that he knew what the whole matter was about. What was the women’s answer? Their answer changed dramatically. We are now at ayah 51. You will feel, when you read it, that these women are different from the ones who were present in the previous ten ayahs. They said what can be translated as, “hey said, ‘Allah forbid! In no way do we know any odious (deeds) against him.’" (TMQ, 12:51).

[1] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

[2] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah: Chapter) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:34 AM

Yusuf – 8A:

In the previous lesson, we stopped at ayah (verse) 58 that can be translated as, “Then came Yusuf’s Brethren. They entered his presence, and he knew them. But they knew him not.”(TMQ, Yusuf: 58)[1].

That incident occurred after nearly 8 years. The king had seen the vision of seven prosperous years followed by seven years of famine, during which, people would consume the surplus harvest which would be produced throughout the prosperous years, and stored for the hard days to come.

Yusuf’s brothers came from Palestine to Egypt, which means famine had reached Palestine. The phrase “Then came” summarizes the events of more than seven years. Famine needs a year-time to prevail and take its toll on people who would locate where a surplus of food could be found. At that time, all Middle Eastern tribes started to flock to Prophet Yusuf seeking food and crops of Egypt, which was the only place where they could be found.

Allah (SWT) sums up all these events in one phrase “Then came.” Subhana Allah, you may say this ayah is not very clear! This issue requires us to use our brains. People with varied thinking levels can all grasp the Qur’an. Those having minimum education could be touched by some ayat, which may drive them into tears. On the other hand, students and intellectuals could be touched by the splendor and beauty of other ayat according to their own understanding. Thus, the Qur’an encompasses all potentials and mentalities throughout time until the Day of Judgment. “Praise be to Allah, Who hath sent to His Servant The Book, and hath allowed Therein no Crookedness.” (TMQ, al-Kahf: 1).

There is a nice gesture here worth paying attention to. People used to flock to Egypt, but does this mean that Egypt was not suffering from famine at that time? Yes it did, actually it first started in Egypt, so why would they go to Egypt and why did Yusuf (AS) – or Egypt - offer to help the whole region? Think about this sort of selflessness; they offered help despite the plight of famine their country was going through, they could have had the excuse of critical economic crisis. Consider Yusuf’s situation receiving people and telling them, “We will give you a hand even though we’re going through a severe crisis, so our brothers in Palestine, we will always be by your side.” Can you see Yusuf’s devotion? Please my brother, do not be selfish even if you are not in a good economic situation, while your is neighbor going through bad circumstances, and needs your help, you should be there for him, and help him, Yusuf (AS) spent all his properties on the whole world.

Let us draw a comparison from this Qur’anic situation and what takes place nowadays. Governments and companies are throwing the surplus of wheat in the Atlantic Ocean to keep the prices high and monopolize the market without even thinking of the starving nations. By Allah (SWT), after viewing this parable of the Qur’an, is it possible to believe what is said these days, that Islam is a religion of blood and terrorism? It is nonsense.

Think of Yusuf (AS) and the situation in Egypt, learn and try to be as Yusuf (AS) was, even if your financial situation is bad, spend as much money as you can to help the needy. Do not just live for your own self and your kids, or your life will not extend beyond its span, it would be so short. Selfish people live and die without being remembered for anything. They would never be considered as great people, neither by their kids, friends, nor their own selves. On the other hand, the one who helps people, Allah (SWT) will give him a longer lifetime embodied in the lifetime of all those whom he made happy. Let us learn selflessness, this great lesson from Yusuf (AS).

Another nice gesture is in, “Then came Yusuf’s Brethren. They entered his presence…” The word “entered” gives us another sense that Yusuf (AS) used to receive people and meet them. He was a very welcoming, and generous host, this hospitality is one of the many good manners this story is full of.

At the beginning of the forthcoming lesson, we need to select all manners cited in this Surah. Do you remember the amount of moral values we have gone through? Take for instance, he refused to mention the name of the lady who put him in prison when he said what can be translated as, “What about the ladies…” (TMQ, Yusuf: 50), so he could avoid embarrassing her and her husband. Moreover, his refusal to be freed from prison until he was proved innocent, as he had a missionary task, for there should not be any accusation raised against him that would tarnish his honor. He also interpreted the king’s vision while he was in prison, without any conditions such as refusing to interpret the vision until he was released. Yusuf (AS) would never act that way. He feared the upcoming famine, and had to help as much as he could, even if he stayed in prison. Values were very important to him, including receiving delegates, despite his huge responsibilities, especially, providing food for the whole region.

In this point, I would like to ask you a question: what does hospitality mean to you? These are all values we have had for ages, which we have ignored. Do you host people and welcome them happily? When was the last time you hosted a guest? Remember the last guest who visited you, and you were so upset? Did you wish that he had not come at all? Many of us cannot wait for our guest to leave. Many women cannot hide their anger and irritation when they have guests. Be hospitable, open your houses to the guests, you never know what could happen if you persist on not accepting guests. Allah (SWT) can make you live for many years without anyone asking about you, or caring for you. If you think about it, is a very special kind of punishment; think how lonely you would feel. On the other hand, think how happy you will be when your house will always be full of people and friends, which is because you are so hospitable. We got used to being cooped up on ourselves, we became stingy, thinking that this is the right thing to do.

Let us learn from Prophet Yusuf (AS), he had to make sure his guests were being treated well, he did not set plans and told them to go implement them; he used to supervise everything besides hosting and receiving people

“Then came Yusuf’s Brethren. They entered his presence, and he knew them. But they knew him not.”(TMQ, Yusuf: 58). He knew them for he was quick-witted, this is how the true Muslim should be, but why did they not know him? They did not recognize him due to many reasons; firstly, his looks have changed a great deal, he was so young when they threw him down the well, they were much older than he was. Secondly, they never thought that this could be their brother Yusuf (AS), this man is controlling the distribution of food in the whole Middle Eastern region, and people from everywhere came to his door seeking help. Think of Allah’s Wisdom and His Generosity. Hence, they did not know him, and Allah (SWT) chooses this phrase, “they knew him not” as it was impossible to imagine, especially after they threw him down the well, supposing that he died.

Then the next ayah can be translated as, “And when he had furnished them forth with provisions (Suitable) for them, he said, “Bring unto me a brother ye have, of the same father as yourselves, (but a different mother): See ye not that I pay out Full measure, and that I Do provide the best hospitality?” (TMQ, Yusuf: 59). The first thing given to them was wheat and barley (as we mentioned earlier) everyone came with a camel load, there is no monopoly, each camel had a fixed portion and dry measure for grains, we will see that later.

They were ten brothers, their half-brother, Benjamin, did not come with them. Since Prophet Yaqub (AS) lost his son Yusuf (AS), he became very attached to his son Benjamin (Yusuf’s brother). He could not leave him even for a second, especially because he reminded him of Yusuf (AS), and knowing that his half-brothers would mistreat him as they used to do to Yusuf (AS).

If we look at the second part of the same ayah when Allah (SWT) says about Prophet Yusuf (AS) saying what can be translated as, “Bring unto me a brother ye have, of the same father as yourselves, (but a different mother)” as if he was saying bring me your half-brother. This was accurate information, how did he know about their half-brother? Was he not worried that they could have recognized him immediately? We read this Surah quite often, did we ever wonder what he was planning, and why he did not confront them immediately. First, he wanted to bring his brother to keep him close to him, then he wanted to teach them a lesson they will not forget, which is to let them go back and forth from Egypt to Palestine and try to solve the problem they will be in as we will mention soon. This was something close to the plot they planned years ago to get rid of Yusuf (AS).

This was not revenge, if he wanted to get even with them, he would have done the same, but he wanted to teach them a lesson to awaken them, since they did not regret their act and never repented to Allah (SWT). If they had repented, they would have told their father, (who kept on crying over losing his son for forty years), instead of keeping it secret all this time. What type of humans were they? They are people who left their father in continuous agony for forty years. All Jews are the direct descendants of these ten men who were named Asbat later on.

Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to teach them this lesson gradually, his plan was to trick them, and remind them of how they had taken him from his father by force. He would do the same with them and take his brother from them by force, they would be hurt, and this would be shown in the next ayahs. We would notice that Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to teach them three lessons, the last of which would be the hardest (we always read these ayahs, but we do not pay attention to this point).

The first thing he said what can be translated as, “Bring unto me a brother ye have, of the same father as yourselves, (but a different mother).” We might suppose they had recognized him, but we need to read between the lines. What happened was, “They entered his presence.” This proves that they had a conversation, then “And when he had furnished them forth with provisions (Suitable) for them.”

We need to differentiate between these two words (when) and (And when). In the Surah, they were mentioned nine times; in Arabic each one indicates a different speed of events. When we read (when) it means the events are going fast, almost immediate consequence, while if we read (And when), it means that the events are going slowly. I just wanted to clarify the difference between both of them, especially; to those who study and memorize the Qur’an to make it easier for them, which this is one of the beauties of Qur’an.

In the ayah that can be translated as, “And when he had furnished Them forth with provisions (Suitable) for them,” Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted the provisions to be prepared to them at the slowest pace possible, in order to have enough time to talk to them. There had been a long conversation with them, to know their latest news and what has come up with his brother. He was smart and bright, and that is how each Muslim should be, smart, daring, and at the same time polite and modest, it is a balance which should always be considered.

One of the outstanding women of Islam was Ash-Shefaa Bint-Abdullah. Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) appointed her for a high-ranking state post during his rule. After his death, she saw a group of young men in shabby clothes, walking humbly with downcast heads and speaking in low voices, she asked, “Who are those people?” They answered, “These are the ascetics.” She said, “Subhana Allah, I saw Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) , when he spoke, he was loud enough so he would be heard, when he was hungry, he would eat to fulfill his needs, when he walked, he walked energetically, and when he punished, it was painful enough so the punished would regret his crime, he was a true ascetic.

Back to the story of Prophet Yusuf (AS) as we mentioned earlier, he sat with his brothers, had a long conversation with them. He inquired about all their news, who they were, where they had come from, what was their story. The Qur’an does not mention all the details, but we have to consider them, and we can find these details in the books of exegesis. We would notice that commentators exerted all efforts to reach that point. Upon reading the exegesis of Sha’rawi or Qurtubi, we would find the same explanation. Allah (SWT) gives us signs in the Qur’an, for example, the fact that Prophet Yusuf (AS) knew the whole story, and they had a stepbrother, who had not come with them for their father feared for him a great deal. He decided to ask them to bring their brother next time, and in return, he would give them an additional camel load.

Their plea was that they could not do that as their father would refuse, then Prophet Yusuf (AS) answered them, that he would refuse to give them the additional camel load next time, unless they brought their brother with them. Let us look at the ayah which can be translated as, “Bring unto me a brother ye have, of the same father as yourselves, (but a different mother): See ye not that I pay out Full measure, and that I Do provide the best hospitality?” (TMQ, Yusuf :59). Then the following ayah which can be translated as, “Now if you bring him not To me, ye shall have no Measure (of corn) from me, Nor shall ye (even) come Near me,” i.e., if you do not bring him, you would be dishonest, and I would not have any deal with you, or give you any provisions anymore, this was a view of one of the commentators.

Another interpretation suggests that when they first came, they asked for eleven measures from Prophet Yusuf (AS). When he asked them, they told him that they have another brother who did not come with them. Prophet Yusuf (AS) agreed to give them the additional measure, under one condition, to bring him their brother next time, to make sure they were telling the truth, and if you did not bring him, “ ye shall have no Measure (of corn) from me.” These were the two views that scholars reached. We have no evidence on how they reached this with Authentic Hadith, but we had to let our minds consider ayat.

The second explanation was also good. They told him they needed the additional measure, because if they returned back home without their brother’s ration, he would be deprived of food for they were eleven persons. He said, “Legally speaking, those who came would take the measure,” then he agreed under the condition of bringing their brother. He was sure they would come back, as they were in need of food.

There is a nice gesture here, “See ye not that I pay out Full measure, and that I Do provide the best hospitality?” When he weighed their measure, he used to put a little extra amount (notice how the merchants act these days), despite the famine; these were the constant manners of Prophet Yusuf (AS).

We might sometimes think of the West as having better manners than ours in some aspects, such as: decency, honesty and hard work, but we must pay attention to an important point; they have manners, but they lack the steadfastness we have. The West is a culture based on materialism, which is the only motive to this culture; they think that in this experience if manners do exist, money will follow. This means your trade will succeed and customers will increase if you are trustworthy and honest, people will trust you and buy your goods. If you worked hard, your salary will increase, this is their materialistic mentality, and they link manners to money. To prove what I am saying, once they have no need for manners, they cancel them; for instance, if a out occurred in a Western country, after fifteen minutes, half of the stores would be looted, so where is their honesty? Gone.

As for women in Europe, every twelve seconds, a woman faces physical abuse by her husband, but outdoors she is respected, nicely treated (materialistic treatment). Watching one of their movies about pets, for example a woman has a kitten, if it is scratched, we will see the woman cry and feel sad for her kitten, but when people are killed in other parts of the world, it is not a big deal. These are materialistic manners. This point is very important, but we can only see the moral stability in the Qur’an and this religion, which teaches us this stability, no matter what the circumstances were.

Let us see how Allah (SWT) says that Prophet Yusuf (AS) assures them with what can be translated as, “See ye not that I pay out Full measure, and that I Do provide the best hospitality?” (TMQ, Yusuf: 59) i.e., the most hospitable, he was not sitting high up in an ivory tower, asking others to distribute food. On the contrary, as mentioned before, he used to supervise, host, and receive people in his house and chat with them. Notice this success and his manners, whenever we seek a certain type of ethics, we find it in Yusuf (AS) with extraordinary supremacy.

Let us see how he combined charm and intimidation, “ye shall have no Measure (of corn) from me, nor shall ye (even) come near me.” Then their answer was, “They said, ‘We shall Certainly seek to get Our wish about him From his father: indeed we shall do it.’” They intended to bring their brother even if their father refused, so they deserved the lessons taught to them by Prophet Yusuf (AS).

There is a good question here, how could Prophet Yusuf (AS) let Prophet Yaqub (AS) go through another plight, i.e. more pain. We will notice something nice about this story; Prophet Yusuf (AS) was so wise, at times you let your beloved ones go through pain, which would entail mercy eventually. If Prophet Yusuf (AS) went to his father and told him of what had happened, and his father knew his brothers’ plot, how would the first meeting with this family be like? He preferred to talk to them in private, in order to teach them a lesson and discipline them. Reconciliation would be the next step, apart from their father, until he would come back and have a wonderful reunion. We could also benefit from this even better than that, as when you have a fight with your brothers, do not indulge your parents. It would break the hearts of parents to see their children fighting for money and inheritance.

Thus, Prophet Yusuf (AS) had to teach his brothers a severe lesson. Going to his father immediately to tell him that he had forgiven his brothers would not work. He had to make them feel guilty, when Prophet Yaqub (AS) feels that they had paid for their mistake, it would ease the torture of the past years. Yusuf (AS) would show his forgiveness towards them, then they would bring Prophet Yaqub (AS) and be reunited again, what would this reunion be like? Of course, it would be indescribable happiness, especially to Prophet Yaqub (AS). In your view, why would Allah (SWT), the Exalted, do such a thing to us? When we are exposed to pain, He would have mercy on us afterwards. Prophet Yaqub (AS) would go through a new plight. Did he know that mercy lies underneath this plight; he had no idea of Prophet Yusuf’s planning. When you go through pain, I want you to do the same as Prophet Yaqub (AS) did, this will be explained later on.

“And Yusuf told his servants to put their money (with which they had bought the corn) into their bags, so that they might know it when they go back to their people; in order they might come again.” (TMQ, Yusuf: 62).

This poses an interesting question: what is meant by money in this ayah? During the famine in Egypt, Prophet Yusuf (AS) required each group of people that came to obtain wheat and barley from the government to bring some merchandise to exchange for food, which is known as a barter-deal. Prophet Yusuf (AS) insisted on the idea of bartering to teach his people a very nice principle. Instead of making them feel offended due to their poverty or want, he asked them to pay for their food in the form of goods or products. In other words, his principle is based on the fact that in order to eat, one must work, not beg.

How do we know that this rule existed? See in this ayah how Prophet Yusuf (AS) said to his slaves to return to his brothers the money (products) they had brought? Also, later in the Surah, Prophet Yusuf’s brothers exclaimed what can be translated as, “… O ruler of the land! A hard time has hit us and our family, and we have brought but poor capital, so pay us full measure and be charitable to us …” (TMQ, Yusuf:88). This latter ayah indicates that although they no longer had high-quality products to exchange for food, they brought products of poorer quality. Thus, the barter was valid.

What can we learn from this? Prophet Yusuf (AS) refused the idea of financial dependence. Thus, all the youth that suffer from unemployment these days must never sit idly at home with the excuse of not finding a job. Furthermore, they must learn a new skill or upgrade their education to increase their job potentials. Indeed, most sins stem from excessive spare time and unemployment. Not finding a job for a newly graduated youth is like the tip of the iceberg. However, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWS[2]) addressed this issue of unemployment when he directed the unemployed companions to learn new skills or start different professions. He once told one of the companions to take an axe, climb a mountain, and collect some firewood for him, when in fact this companion had never used an axe before.

This same Qura’nic and Prophetic principle is along the lines of what Prophet Yusuf (AS) did. Thus, I advise all those who suffer from unemployment to try and learn a new skill, or even to change their career. Organize your day so that in the morning you are looking for a new job, and in the evening you are learning a new skill. It is very possible that you may find success behind this new door. You may ask yourself, “but is it not better for me to work in the field which I spent years studying?” My answer is be patient until you achieve what you want; and until your dreams come true, try to find a job based on a new skill.

What about the merchandise that were bartered for food? Throughout the seven years of famine, Egypt suffered a great deal from unemployment, because its economy was highly dependent on agriculture. Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to fight unemployment; therefore, he established departments for recruiting the unemployed, which were spin-offs from the merchandise of the exchange; for example, there was a department for sorting the merchandise, another for recycling them and manufacturing new products, another for marketing, another for selling, and yet another for circulating them. In this manner, he was able to fight unemployment. Can you imagine the genius of this Prophet (AS)? He was knowledgeable in economics, psychology, and many more domains besides the ones we have mentioned earlier. This was Prophet Yusuf’s plan to fight beggary, and absorb the problem of unemployment, and with this, Egypt’s economy boomed despite the severe famine.

Consider this great Qura'nic way of life, and look how far we are from it these days. One of the supplications I usually make is, “O Allah! Make the Qur’an my light in this world, and my companion in my grave.” The fact is we cannot appreciate the true essence of the Qur’an as our companion in the grave unless we sit in such Islamic sessions, understand, live with the Qur'an, and feel the true beauty and essence of its lessons. I just wanted to show you how great the Qur'an is.

Let us return to ayah 62, in which Prophet Yusuf (AS) says what can be translated as, “…told his servants to put their goods (the goods they exchanged the corn for) into their bags, so that they might know it when they go back to their people; in order they might come again” (TMQ, Yusuf: 62). Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted his brothers to return to him. Fearing that they may not have any more products to exchange for barley, he asked his servants to return the merchandise to their bags. Therefore, the products they had come with were returned to them amongst the wheat and barley they obtained in the exchange.

Then comes the following ayah that can be translated as, “So, when they returned to their father, they said, “O our father! No more measure of grain shall we get (unless we take our brother). So send our brother with us, and we shall get our measure and truly we will guard him’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 63). Once they arrived, they immediately told their father about the events of their trip, and then asked him to allow them to take their brother with them in the following trip, otherwise they will not be able to bring food. They asked their father to send their brother with them and they promised to take care of him. They used similar words and promises to the ones they said so long ago when they asked to take Prophet Yusuf (AS) with them, “Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily, we will take care of him.” (TMQ, Yusuf:12).

The response of the father can be translated as, “He said, ‘Can I entrust him to you except as I entrusted his brother (Yusuf) to you aforetime? But Allah is the Best to guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 64). These words were very tough and painful; it was a painful lesson for them. In fact, this is only the beginning of the lesson they shall learn.

I would like us to stop for a few moments and ponder on the words of Prophet Yaqub (AS). He told his sons what can be translated as, “… But Allah is the Best to guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” (TMQ, Yusuf: 64). I would like to address these same words to all those mothers who worry excessively about their children to the extent of not allowing them to take a bus or go anywhere. Eventually, the outcome would be a weak personality that is dependent on all those around him/her. Dear parents, look at the words of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) is the Protector; He is the Merciful. This does not mean that we should let our children go heedless into danger expecting Allah (SWT) to protect them. We just need to limit our fear. This is a principle that must be enforced in our hearts, because there is no protector but Allah (SWT). This is a basic in our creed.

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) eloquently summarized this as he taught the basics of Islam to a young ten-year old child, Abdullah Ibn-Abbas, who was only thirteen when Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) died, “O lad, keep Allah in your mind, and He would keep you safe. Keep Allah in your mind, and you will find Him everywhere. If you asked for anything, ask Allah. If you relied on anyone, rely on Allah. Bear in mind that if people assembled to do you good, they would not do anything but what Allah has preordained for you, and if they assembled to harm you, they would not do anything but what Allah has preordained to harm you. Quills are lifted, and the books ran dry (i.e., the ink, with which books of ones deeds are recorded, ran dry and nothing else could be added).”

Always remember Allah (SWT) within your heart and mind, and He would keep you safe. We cannot attend an Islamic sermon, and once we leave, forget Allah (SWT) and His orders. We must keep our remembrance of Allah (SWT) constant and continuous; for example, do you pray in the Masjid? Are you learning how to recite the Qur’an properly? Do you say the daily adhkar (a collection of supplications) every morning and every evening? Are you doing some volunteer work, such as helping orphanages or are you involved in any another charitable organization? If you do such deeds, then you will, Allah (SWT) willing, be guaranteed Allah’s Protection.

We may read so much, and we may run into this ayah many times, but do we thoughtfully consider it? Those who read it and let its sincere meaning sink into their hearts will feel the truthfulness of Allah’s words. Truly, those are the people who will have true tawakul (trust in Allah (SWT)) and thus will force any fear or worry out of their hearts. Of course, not all of us will read the Qur’an and be able to deduce all the great lessons and morals of the story of Prophet Yusuf (AS), but, thanks to Allah (SWT), we all understand the words now, “…But Allah is the Best to guard…” Allah (SWT) willing, I hope that these words will be engraved into our hearts and reflected in our deeds. I also pray that Allah (SWT) protect our youth, who are the wealth of Islam, and keep them steadfast.

Let us return to the Surah. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And when they opened their bags, they found their money had been returned to them. They said, ‘O our father! What (more) can we desire? This, our money has been returned to us; so we shall get (more) food for our family, and we shall guard our brother and add one more measure of a camel’s load. This quantity is easy (for the king to give).’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 65). This ayah relates to us the brothers’ enthusiasm to return to Prophet Yusuf (AS) after they found that their merchandise was returned to them. What more could they want after the generosity of the official who even returned the merchandise of the first exchange to them? Besides, as they explained to their father, they will get “one more measure” next time, referring to their brother's ration. As can be seen from their last statement, they are trying to convince their father of the use of sending their brother with them.

On ayah 66, we read the response of Prophet Yaqub (AS), “He (Yaqub) said, ‘I will not send him with you until you swear a solemn oath to me in Allah’s Name, that you will bring him back to me unless you are yourselves surrounded (by enemies),’ And when they had sworn their solemn oath, he said, ‘Allah is the Witness to what we have said.’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 66). Thus, in light of what happened to Prophet Yusuf (AS) (when he was thrown down the well), Prophet Yaqub (AS) refused to send their brother with them until they gave him an oath in Allah’s Name that they will return with him unless they are struck by some grave calamity. Imagine ten adult men standing before their father to make this oath. Can you imagine how they must have felt at the loss of their father’s confidence and trust in them?

Here we stop at an interesting point. Note that Prophet Yaqub (AS) did not let them leave until he heard their oaths, just like the official procedures conducted in the Notary Public. As far as Prophet Yaqub (AS) is concerned, his Notary Public is, “Allah is sufficient to us, and He is the only Procurator.” This is his law. His principle in this ayah and the previous one is clear; Allah (SWT) is the Best to guard, and the Most Merciful of all. One who lives with such principles in mind will surely lead a happy life. If you turn to Allah (SWT) for help, you will be more powerful than anything or anyone under the sun. Our problem is that we depend on the actions we make and the steps we take to realize our goals, whereas what we should do is take the steps but put our trust in Allah (SWT). If we put our trust solely in the steps we take, we will see that things will not work out smoothly, and we will also start to feel overwhelmed with worry and anxiety. This is manifest in such circumstances as when a daughter is delayed in marriage, or when we have financial problems, or when the children’s upbringing starts to get tough, and so on. We forget that the Trustee is Allah (SWT), and that He is always there. Our scholars even tell us that the tears of fear and worry shed by a man over his children as he dies, leaving them with no one to take care of them, are but a sign of not trusting in Allah (SWT).

Before the brothers left to go see Prophet Yusuf (AS) again, their father, Prophet Yaqub (AS), told them what can be translated as, “...O my sons! Do not enter by one gate, but enter by different gates, and I cannot avail you against Allah at all. Verily! The decision rests only with Allah. In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him” (TMQ, Yusuf: 67). This implies that there were several gates leading to Egypt at the time, and it is apparent from this ayah that Prophet Yaqub (AS) was aware of this fact. Thus, he was knowledgeable and aware of his surroundings and the world he lived in. It seems he also felt the good relationship they had sparked with al-Aziz (referring to Prophet Yusuf (AS)), especially that he had returned the merchandise to them. Plus, they were eleven strong men including their brother. Due to all these reasons, Prophet Yaqub (AS) feared for them from envy.

Apparently, envy exists and is concurred by the Qur’an. Not only is it mentioned in this ayah, but also in Surat al-Falaq (The Daybreak) where Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “…And from the evil of the envier when he envies” (TMQ, al-Falaq: 5). We cannot deny that envy exists, but ayah 67 of Surat Yusuf tells us how to protect ourselves from envy. There are people who unintentionally envy others. We must consider two issues; how should we avoid envying others, and how should we protect ourselves from being envied? As for the former, the Qur’an and the teachings of our beloved Prophet (SAWS) have taught us that when we see something we fancy we must say “Masha Allah La Quwata Illa billah,” which is related to us in Surat al-Kahf (the Cave). This is how to avoid envying ourselves and also how to assure others that we do not wish to envy them.

As for the second question, we must shield ourselves from envy by using the daily Adhkar, which are meant to be said every morning and sunset. If you do not know these prayers, you can find them in any of the many booklets available on the subject. Among these prayers are the last three Surahs of the Qur’an also known as the Mu’awidhat. Before you retire to bed, it is a Sunnah to put your palms together as if making supplication, and then read each of the three Muawidhat three times into your folded palms, and then brush your hands across your body. Finally, there is also the supplication that the beloved Prophet (SAWS) taught us when he used to gather his grandchildren, al-Hassan and al-Hussein, and say, “I seek refuge in Allah's perfect words from every Satan, every venomous poison and every envious eye.” Then he would say that these are the same words that your father, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) used to say to protect his sons, Prophet Isma’il (AS) and Prophet Ishaq (AS).

This beautiful supplication is what we should all use to protect our dear children, instead of, what so many people do these days, resorting to witchcraft and the likes. We are so fortunate that Islam teaches us how to protect ourselves, so why do we look elsewhere for guidance and protection? Look what the Jews used to say, out of the jealousy they hold for Muslims, “Muhammad did not leave a thing that he did not teach his people, even what to say when they enter the washroom,” so why do we still go elsewhere for guidance and protection?

Looking back at what Prophet Yaqub (AS) told his sons, we see a perfect example of tawakul (trust in Allah (SWT)). He took a step to avoid envy by telling his sons to enter from different gates, but then he put his trust in Allah (SWT) as he said what can be translated as, “…I cannot avail you against Allah at all…” (TMQ, Yusuf: 67). He combined the true meaning of tawakul by taking the steps to achieve whatever he wants and filling his heart with trust in Allah (SWT) rather than confidence and trust in his actions, so the body is working on achieving the goal, but the heart is beating with trust in Allah (SWT). Take for example, you may go to a person to do you a favor, but your heart is sure that what you asked for will not be without the will and order of Allah (SWT). This is all summarized in the final words of the ayah that can be translated as, “The decision rests only with Allah. In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him” (TMQ, Yusuf: 67).

In light of this ayah, I also wanted to mention that tawakul comes gradually, until your heart finally reaches the truth and understanding that nothing, small or big, can happen to you without the will and order of Allah (SWT). We may make mistakes every now and then and think, for example, that success or accomplishments are in the hands of certain people, but when trust becomes enforced in our hearts and the true understanding exists, then we will realize that nothing can happen without the will and order of the Creator (SWT).

Then ayah 68 reads what can be translated as, “And when they entered according to their father’s advice, it did not avail them in the least against (the Will of) Allah; it was but a need of Yaqub’s inner-self which he discharged. And verily, he was endowed with knowledge because We had taught him, but most men know not” (TMQ, Yusuf: 68). Note that the last part of the ayah refers to the fact that most of mankind does not know the true concept of tawakul.

“And when they went in before Yusuf, he took his brother (Benjamin) to himself and said, ‘Verily! I am your brother, so grieve not for what they used to do.’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 69). Consider the accurate and descriptive word choice of the Holy Qur’an. The word awaa translated above as ‘took’ is actually more descriptive in Arabic because it reflects the act of taking, but in a tender and affectionate manner. Now, one can better picture how Prophet Yusuf (AS) would have taken his brother on the side and affectionately hugged him, and related to him the events of the past forty years. The word awaa in the rich Arabic language is brief but powerful enough to paint such an affectionate picture of their reunion after forty years. Note the beauty of the Qur’an in filling the reader’s heart with sensitivity, affection, and emotions. These fine emotions are painted again in the same ayah when Prophet Yusuf (AS) tells his brother, “Verily! I am your brother, so grieve not for what they used to do.” (TMQ, Yusuf: 69).

Ayah 70 reads what can be translated as, “So when he had furnished them forth with their provisions, he put the (golden) bowl in his brother’s bag. Then a crier cried, ‘O you (in) the caravan! Surely, you are thieves!’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 70). Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to quickly take his brother with him, hence a surprise had to occur. Prophet Yusuf (AS) took the king’s drinking glass and planted it into his brother’s belongings. Then the employees of the palace cried out at the brothers exclaiming that they are thieves. Of course, Prophet Yusuf’s brother knew all along about his brother’s plan. Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to deceive his brothers in order to win his other brother’s company. Plus, he wanted to teach them a severe lesson for what they did to him so many years ago. He did not do this out of revenge, but as a form of teaching. Had he wanted to get revenge, he would have put his brothers in jail after their first visit, and forced them to tell him where his father was.

Then came the scandal when the men cried out what can be translated as, “O you (in) the caravan! Surely, you are thieves!” (TMQ, Yusuf: 70). “They (the brothers), turning towards them, said: ‘What is it that you have lost?’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 71). The brothers were asking in astonishment, especially since they could not believe that they, the sons of a Prophet (AS) were being accused of robbery. They were answered what can be translated as, “We have lost the (golden) bowl of the king and for him who produces it is (the reward of) a camel load; and I (Yusuf) will be bound by it.” (TMQ, Yusuf: 72).

“They said: ‘By Allah! Indeed you know that we came not to make mischief in the land, and we are no thieves!’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 73). They swore by Allah (SWT) emphasizing that they did not steal. Then Prophet Yusuf’s men asked what can be translated as, “What then shall be the penalty of him, if you are (proved to be) liars” (TMQ, Yusuf: 74).

“They (Yusuf’s brothers) said, ‘His penalty should be that he, in whose bag it is found, should be held for the punishment (of the crime). Thus we punish the Zâlimûn (wrong-doers)!’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 75). His brothers were the ones who decided the punishment that he who stole the glass deserves to be left to serve as a slave in the palace. There were two laws at the time: the law of the king of Egypt, and the law of Prophet Yaqub (AS). The punishment for stealing in the king’s law is that the thief must pay twice as much as the price of what he/she stole, and the punishment in Prophet Yaqub’s rule is that the thief must become a servant. Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to use Prophet Yaqub’s rule, but how could he achieve this in the king’s palace except by asking his brothers to choose the punishment themselves. See his sharp intelligence?

The true Muslim must always be smart like this. I still remember this old man who used to tell me, “The Muslim is smart.” Certainly, he who reads the Qur’an and applies its rules must be smart. Evidence directs us to this, because by understanding the Qur’an, you will understand many of life’s issues, you will feel mature, you will become serious and successful, and most importantly, Allah (SWT) will light your path and guide you.

We can see in the next ayah Prophet Yusuf’s intelligence once again. “So he [Yusuf ] began (the search) in their bags before the bag of his brother. Then he brought it out of his brother’s bag. Thus did We plan for Yusuf. He could not take his brother by the law of the king (as a slave), except that Allah willed it. (So Allah made the brothers to bind themselves with their way of “punishment, i.e. enslaving of a thief.”) We raise to degrees whom We will, but over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing (Allah)” (TMQ, Yusuf: 76). He started by checking their belongings first before his brother’s, then he acted as he found it and took it out of his brother’s belongings. Imagine this grave lesson, and imagine his brothers’ reactions and humiliation in front of everybody in addition to the fact that they will be forced to return to their father without their brother.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “…Thus did We plan for Yusuf …” (TMQ, Yusuf: 76) because nothing happens without the Will and Order of Allah (SWT). These words also tell us that the planning came from Allah (SWT) not from Prophet Yusuf (AS).

Note that the law of the king is referred to as deen (religion) in this ayah. This is not because the king had a religion of his own; it only means the king’s law. However, the fact that the word deen is used, enforces the idea that religion is not only about worship, but is in fact a complete way of life with a complete set of human and societal laws. “They (Yusuf’s brothers) said, “If he steals, there was a brother of his [Yusuf ] who did steal before (him).” But these things did Yusuf keep to himself, revealing not the secrets to them. He said (within himself), ‘You are in worst case, and Allah is the Best Knower of that which you describe!’” (TMQ, Yusuf: 77).

[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[2] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:36 AM

Yusuf (AS) 2B

Yaqub (AS) (Jacob) didn’t prevent them from going out to play; he didn’t tell them that a Muslim should not entertain himself. This is something that I would like to emphasize to you. The Muslim is neither prohibited from playing sports, nor from being happy, enjoying his life, or wearing the best he can. I would like to make a remark to those Muslims who have some misconceptions. Some youths, for instance, tuck up their trousers. They say that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS[1]) prohibited Muslims from dragging their garments. You should understand Islam properly, and know why Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said that.

The Prophet (SAWS) said, “The part of an Izar (garment) which hangs below the ankles is in hell.”[2] When he said that Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was talking about those who did so out of pride, for Arabs used to drag their garments to boast and to show off, but this does not happen nowadays.

The Prophet (SAWS) said, “Allah will not look, on the Day of Judgment, at the person who drags his garment (behind him) out of conceit.” On that Abu-Bakr (RA) said, “O Allah's Apostle! One side of my Izar hangs low if I do not take care of it.” The Prophet (SAWS) said, “You are not one of those who do that out of conceit.”[3]

Hence, you should understand that in order for you to be useful to Islam, you should be good-looking, know how to use the computer/the internet, and play sports. In our daily life, we encounter very bad scenes, like when you see youths unable to run properly because of smoking, or some others who have very weak bodies because they are not used to physical exercise.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily, we will take care of him.” (TMQ, 12:12).[4] This ayah (verse) is an indication that it is not forbidden neither for men nor for women to play sports. Women should not only play sports, but also be keen to exercise, as long as they do that in special places where men cannot see them.

The useful lesson we should learn from this point is that entertainment is not prohibited in itself. It is only prohibited when it is a man’s only concern and is sinfully practiced. Some youth, for instance, play sports because they want to be in good shape, and use this as a means of showing off. This is a point which I wish to stress.

Yaqub’s fear

Going back to Yusuf’s story, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “He (Yaqub) said, ‘Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away. I fear lest a wolf should devour him, while you are careless of him.’” (TMQ, 12:13). One may ask: why did Yaqub (AS) approve of Yusuf’s going out with his brothers although he was afraid and worried? Because he was not sure of their intentions, and therefore overlooked his fear and approved in order not to embarrass his sons, and not to increase enmity amongst them. He was keen on strengthening the bonds between his sons.

Here I would like to address a word to parents: you should strengthen the bonds that link your children. Many parents complain from the arguments that take place among their sons. Sometimes, we see a youth who, after he became religious, refuses to accompany his sister outdoors because she is not veiled. However, it would be better if he treats her kindly, because girls are stubborn by nature. We should learn from Yaqub (AS), who wanted to get his children closer to each other, and therefore thought that that trip would help them. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “They said, ‘If a wolf devours him, while we are a strong group (to guard him), then surely, we are the losers.’” (TMQ, 12:14). They assured their father.

Getting rid of Yusuf (AS):

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “So, when they took him away and they all agreed to throw him down to the bottom of the well, (they did so) and We revealed to him, ‘Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.’” (TMQ, 12:15).

I would like to stop for a while at this Ayah, scrutinizing some points. “They all agreed to throw him down.” (TMQ, 12:15). Can you imagine ten persons agreeing on committing such an act, with no sympathy? Allah (SWT) is telling us this Ayah to show the hatred and malice they harbored towards their brother. The idea to back off never crossed their minds.

“When they took him away.” (TMQ, 12:15). Scholars scrutinized this phrase, trying to figure out what Yusuf’s state was on the way. Most probably his brothers hit and insulted him. Can you imagine a twelve-year-old boy suffering all this harm inflicted by his brothers?

Let us try to imagine what happened from the beginning. They took him to an isolated place, so that if he got out of the well, he would never be able to get back again. Even when he became the chief minister of Egypt he did not go back home, as he could not remember the way. That was their main concern; to let him lose his way in the middle of the desert. That is why they went to the farthest point they could reach in the desert until they reached an area that was full of wolves.

Did you notice that the bottom of the well was mentioned twice? Imagine a young boy being stripped off his clothes, while he was begging them, “Oh, please don’t take away my clothes. Give me back my shirt at least; it would be my shroud if I die or my cover if I survive.” Think about this child who is clinging to his shirt to cover his body while girls do not care about being covered nowadays. Imagine yourself in the same situation. Imagine his brothers laughing at him while they listened to what he was saying.

The phrase, “throw him down” mean that they threw him. They did not lower him down there slowly, until he reached the bottom. No, they just threw him, because they wanted to get rid of him. Imagine him now; he is down there, he can’t see anything, but he can hear the sounds of snakes and scorpions. Can you imagine how scared he is now, being down there alone, almost naked, while he is only twelve? Believe me, if that happened to a fully-grown man, he would certainly have had a shock and possibly die. Imagine him calling upon them, asking them to leave him some food, while they were still laughing. A few moments later, their voices faded away, and he was left alone down there for three days.

In al-Athar[5], there is a comment about Yusuf’s story; a saying by Yusuf (AS) himself at that horrible situation, “Oh brothers, look at me so that when you are together, you remember my loneliness. When you eat, remember my hunger. When you drink, remember my thirst and when you see a stranger, remember my desolation.” That was an endeavor of Yusuf (AS), trying to arouse sympathy in their hearts. However, this did not work. Even nowadays, we meet such stonehearted persons. You can see brothers who cut their kinship ties because of differences regarding inheritance, although they are Muslims. I really ask everyone who reads this lecture to forget about their disagreements with their relatives, so that Allah (SWT) would be pleased with them.

Mercy of Allah (SWT)

“..and We revealed to him: “Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.” (TMQ, 12:15).

This part of the Ayah shows us the mercy of Allah (SWT), He is the King of this whole universe with all its contents and only by His will everything is done. Who would ever believe that this same pathetic boy, after forty years would be the chief minister of Egypt? Hence, every tyrant in this world, and everyone who suffered from tyranny should be assured that Allah (SWT) is the All-Knowing. He who counts on Allah (SWT), will undoubtedly be victorious.

It was mentioned in al-Athar that Allah (SWT) ordered Jibril (AS) (Gabriel) to tell Yusuf (AS) that he should supplicate to Allah (SWT) instead of calling upon his brothers. Yusuf (AS) then started his supplication to Allah (SWT), “O Allah, you are the only company of every lonely, and stranger. You are the haven of every terrified. You are the listener for every supplication. You are the only helper.”

The truth is that we are too helpless. We have no one to help us except Allah (SWT). People who have a problem I’m telling them this, be patient, Allah (SWT) will certainly help you, Allah (SWT) willing. He will bestow his honor upon you like he did with Yusuf (AS).

I ask everyone who reads this lecture: after you have become acquainted with the Holy Qur’an and its miracles, learn about it as much as you can.

[1] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

[2] Volume 7, Book 72, Number 678: Narrated Abu Huraira. al-Bukhari

[3] Volume 7, Book 72, Number 675: Narrated 'Abdullah Ibn-Omar. al-Bukhari

[4] TMQ= translation of the Meaning of the Qur’an. This translation is for the so far realised meaning of this aya of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed

[5] This word literally means “trace”. As a technical term it denotes “a tradition”: (Trace, vestige). It usually refers to traditions from Companions or Successors, but is sometimes used for traditions of the Prophet.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:37 AM

Yusuf (AS) – 3B

Something miraculous about the Qur’an is that it sometimes describes things explicitly, and other times quite implicitly. It is simple but complex at the same time, and the reader’s mind, regardless of age or intelligence, is always exploring new things with every repetition; a characteristic which can only be true for a book from Allah (SWT) to all humans without exception. There is always something between the lines, challenging the thoughts of the reader. Some might criticize the complexity, but I am sure they will criticize its simplicity even more if it was so. If it were just a list of instructions, it would not be so interesting to read and remember now would it? If Allah (SWT) created us humans and blessed us with our brains, He can only challenge them in such a magical way, and no other book can reach the hearts of so many people, giving them the happiness and contentedness they need.

The Qur’an stimulates our thinking and allows us to make our own conclusions. In some occasions the details are not mentioned, but why? Some of them are simply unimportant when you look at the big picture, and are there so you can fill in the voids with your own imagination. They are not missing, and that is very clear because the point is always reached at the end. It just keeps your brain thinking and running; not an idle receiver.

Let us go back to the ayahs (verses) and Yusuf (AS) (Joseph). Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “They hid him” (TMQ, 12: 19)[1]. This sentence has three different interpretations, and Allah (SWT) knows better. One interpretation suggests that his brothers told the people of the caravan to hide him, so that no one could see him and tell their father. Another interpretation is that the man who pulled him out hid him from the rest of the caravan, so that he would have the money for himself. Other scholars of Qur’anic exegesis think that the whole caravan agreed on hiding him so they could smuggle him into Egypt. The fact remains that he was taken away and that is what matters at the end.

“They hid him as a merchandise (a slave)” (TMQ, 12: 19). A merchandise? Yusuf (AS) the noble man, the son of Yaqub (AS) (Jacob); who is also the son of a noble man, became a merchandise? A slave? This is only a temporary stage, and he will be honoured later on in his life. What do we learn from this? If Yusuf (AS), the beloved, had some harsh times through his life, isn’t it alright if we have some harsh times too? Therefore, be patient if you find yourselves in a difficult situation; everything is a test after all. The test can be in wealth or poverty, strength or weakness, and you have to be wise to act in the appropriate way. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “They sold him for a low price - for a few Dirhams (i.e. for a few silver coins).” (TMQ, 12: 20). He was a free man and became a traded slave, but how can a Messenger of Allah (AS) be degraded in such a way? “A few Dirhams;” why is this? “And they were of those who regarded him insignificant.” (TMQ, 12: 20). Yusuf (AS), the dearest creature to Allah (SWT), was regarded insignificant.

You should not worry if people who are stronger or richer think that you are insignificant, because what is important is how Allah (SWT) considers you, and He has a different way of weighing people.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And he (the man) from Egypt who bought him, said to his wife, ‘Make his stay comfortable, maybe he will profit us or we shall adopt him as a son.’” (TMQ, 12: 21). Note the place: Egypt. We said earlier that Yusuf (AS) was in Palestine, so this 12-year old young man is now far away in another country, without even having the slightest idea of how to return home. The man who bought him was the lord of the store houses in Egypt, i.e. the minister of finance. If you know this story, Yusuf (AS) will become the minister later on instead of al-Aziz, so everything is predestined to work together with time! It is Allah (SWT) who manages this universe, and everything fits together at the end. You might not understand everything that happens in your life, simply because you cannot see the future consequences, but know always that you are in good hands.

We can see that al-Aziz really liked Yusuf (AS) and wanted to treat him like the son he never had, so Yusuf (AS) was in good hands, another part of destiny is taking its role. You see: one of the indications of Allah’s love is the love you get from the people around you, as Allah (SWT) endues their hearts with your love, and the opposite is true. Take for instance, when Musa (AS) (Moses) was a baby, the wife of the Pharaoh liked him as soon as she saw him; Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “(she said,) A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not.” (TMQ, 28: 9). Allah (SWT) says to Musa (AS), “And I endued you with love from Me.” (TMQ, 20: 39).

Allah (SWT) then says what can be translated as, “Thus did We establish Yusuf in the land…”(TMQ, 12:21). This means that Allah (SWT) established him in the home of al-Aziz so that he could learn economics and finance, to become the minister of finance himself later on. The verb ‘establish’ is in the present tense at the time of this scene, which means that everything in the next forty years was predestined and prepared by Allah (SWT). Also, everything that has happened and will happen to us was predestined a long time ago by Allah (SWT). You need to believe this! You don’t have to worry about your future because your destiny is written! Of course, this does not mean that you should sit back and do nothing! You should always work hard and do your best in your life, and then along with this belief you will find comfort, happiness and the power to face anything. It is relaxing to feel that you are being watched over, and there is always Allah (SWT) who understands your intentions and knows your value.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Thus did We establish Yusuf in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of events.” (TMQ, 12: 21). Interpreting dreams is also a gift from Allah (SWT) to Yusuf (AS); a gift which he will later on use to interpret the king’s dream and save the country. It is a destiny that is accurately drawn out for Yusuf (AS), who did not know it then. We might not understand why some things happen, but we do occasionally understand them in the future. Yusuf (AS) did not just sit back and depend on Allah (SWT); he lived his life and educated himself, and the skill of dream interpretation was a valuable asset he used.

Our assets nowadays can be science, technology or education and we should use them to succeed in life and do some good for Islam. If Muslims don’t excel in these things, they will never reach prosperity or economic and political stability. You cannot fight for justice and truth if you do not have the strength to do so. This is a very important point. On a smaller scale, how can you have any influence on your friends or family if you are a loser? Will people listen to you or take you seriously? They will not only refuse to listen to you, but also think that your religiousness is the reason for your failure. What if you were an educated, successful young man or woman? Then you would show them that Islam means the contrary of failure, and they will listen to what you have to say. I am only asking you to do what Islam wants you to do! It is your duty to take care of yourself and be educated and successful, because Islam teaches how to worship and be successful at the same time, and Yusuf (AS) is one of the many examples we have. A good Muslim should always be clean, well-dressed and good-mannered. You need that to talk to people and lead a healthy social life. We are not only responsible for ourselves but for our religion as well, and Islam is not just about the person but the whole society.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs.” (TMQ, 12: 21). Doesn’t this ayah just sum it all up? If we look at the events that happened in Yusuf’s life and the way they progressed, we realise the true meaning of this ayah. Thanks to Allah’s power and control, the caravan lost its way and wandered into the Palestinian desert to find Yusuf (AS). Thanks to Allah (SWT), al-Aziz loved Yusuf (AS) and took him into his house. Thanks to Allah (SWT), the king had a dream and Yusuf (AS) was the only one able to interpret it, and he got out of jail. That interpretation also saved a whole country from a seven years famine! Everything is set to complete the whole picture, and life goes on. Some people still think it is pure coincidence. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “The decision of the matter, before and after (these events) is only with Allah.” (TMQ, 30: 4).

“And when he (Yusuf) attained his full manhood.” (TMQ, 12: 22). Some scholars of Qur’anic exegesis suggest the age of 33 or 35, and others say 40 years is the age when men reach full manhood. Those who said 40, were referring to what Allah (SWT) says and can be translated as, “…till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years…” (TMQ, 46: 15); seeing that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS[2]) was 40 years old when he started his Da’wa (missionary activity). If we take this last opinion, Yusuf (AS) spent 28 years with al-Aziz so far; 28 years away from home.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And when he (Yusuf) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood)…” (TMQ, 12: 22). In this ayah, ‘wisdom’ means his Prophethood (religion), where ‘knowledge’ here refers to science and matters in life. This is yet another reminder for Muslims to be successful and religious, so that they should not concentrate on one and forget the other.

Another important characteristic of Yusuf (AS) is his beauty. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “Allah gave Yusuf half of the beauty of all creatures (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 309).” Just imagine all the beauty you have seen in your life, and that it all does not match a fraction of this man’s beauty! This explains why that lady tried so hard to seduce him, but there is an even stronger point to notice. When someone is beautiful, they usually tend to be stuck-up and anything but shy, parading themselves around and trying to seduce people, so can you imagine the modesty of Yusuf (AS)? He had the looks that most people dream about, but he never used them in a bad way, and we will see this later on in the story.

If the earth and its creatures are so beautiful, have you ever wondered about the Creator of this beauty? How would it feel like to look at the face of Allah (SWT)? Can you imagine the delight and happiness? You, who do not lower your gaze when seeing illicit things, I am afraid you will be deprived from looking at His face with those eyes. When Allah (SWT) talked about punishment on the Day of Judgment, he did not start by talking about hell. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Nay! Surely they (evil-doers) will be veiled from seeing their Lord that Day. Then, verily, they will indeed enter (and taste) the burning flame of Hell.” (TMQ, 83: 15-16.). That means that the deprivation from looking at Allah's face is worse than hell itself. Allah (SWT) says, “Some faces that Day shall be Nadirah (shining and radiant), looking at their Lord (Allah).” (TMQ, 75: 22-23). Some faces will be shining and happy while looking at Allah (SWT), and others will be scared and lost, seeing nothing but hell, so, how would you like your face to be then?

Where did Yusuf (AS) get all this beauty from? Were the Prophets that beautiful? Why do some people have a distorted image in their minds when they think about religious people? Beauty comes with faith, and the inner beauty is much more important. Some young men out there are obsessed by the beauty of models and unveiled women and try their best to get to them and marry them, but do they have happy lives at the end? How can they prefer them to the respectable, veiled and pious women? Of course it is Satan who urges them to do so. Prophets are the most handsome men, and their wives and the true Muslim women are the most beautiful of women.

Now we get to the most important part of the story; how Yusuf (AS) resisted the seduction of al-Aziz’s wife. There are so many lessons to learn here, and so many details to pay attention to. Yusuf (AS) had the best opportunity and circumstances to commit adultery, but he rejected and kept his honour and dignity. Let us analyse the situation and live through this amazing, dynamic scenario.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act), and she closed the doors and said, ‘Come on, O you.’ He said, ‘I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my living in a great comfort! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zalimun (wrong and evil-doers) will never be successful.’”(TMQ, 12:23).

You have no excuse young men! Don't deceive yourselves! Don't say you did what you did by force of circumstances! What circumstances? Listen to these circumstances and tell me what you think:

1. He was young.
2. He was single, almost 30 and still had not got married. Don't say, “It will be ages before I ever get married,” or “What can I do? I do not know when I will be able to get an apartment.” Yusuf (AS) was a slave; he did not even know if he would ever get married! You feel as if the Qur’an really leaves you no way out.
3. He was also a stranger. No one of his family would know. He did not have to answer to any one. Some people would go abroad simply to grasp that opportunity and use the distance to act on their own will!
4. He was strong, handsome and well-built. He was not weak, thin or impotent. He was strong.
5. He was a slave; no one would blame him much. He would not even be punished as harshly as a free man would.
6. He was all alone, with no companions. People would say, “If only we had good friends, we would resist. We have no friends to help us and remind us of the right thing to do.” Yusuf (AS) had no one at all! As a matter of fact, he was living in a country in which he was the only one who worshiped Allah (SWT).

That is how he was. Now let us see how she was:

1. She was beautiful. Why? She was al-Aziz’s wife; he would have never married an ugly woman.

2. She was a powerful woman, in a position of influence, and she led a luxurious life. She was the type of woman you would nowadays see driving her car and you sigh, “Oh! How lucky he is that guy sitting beside her!” This really happens to some young men. I am serious. Look my brothers and sisters, we need to be frank about this. Wallahi (by Allah (SWT)) I have come here today to say this truthfully and out of love to you all; may Allah (SWT) grant chastity to all the youth! I pray to Allah (SWT) to grant them chastity!

3. She was also a woman who had no shame or fear; she was absolutely brazen! Sometimes shame would prevent us from committing sins, but she was shameless.

4. Then listen to this word rawadthu (sought to seduce him). Do you know what this word means? It is derived from rowaidan (little by little). This incident did not happen all of a sudden; he had been staying at her house for 28 years my brothers and sisters! It had been going on bit by bit all through these years! Can you see how incredible Yusuf (AS) was and how weak you are? How come you have committed such a sin the minute you found it possible to do so? How come you were the one who actually looked for it and wanted it? Where was your self restrain? She had been trying to seduce him little by little, starting with amiability and affection and moving step by step to accomplish her intention. She was shrewd, capable, intelligent, and she knew how to get a man when she wanted to, yet Yusuf (AS) resisted the temptation. She was not a naïve, ordinary woman. She was a woman of the world!

5. They were in her house! Some people do not commit this sin simply because they can not find the place to do it! Listen to this ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act) …" (TMQ, 12:23). Why does Allah (SWT) tell us this? He wants you to know that Yusuf (AS) could have easily committed this sin at any time. Are you still weak? Would you commit this sin if you had the opportunity to do so? Are you still thinking deep down, “Oh yes, I would if only I was given the chance.” Is it the other way around? Are you saying, “I will never do it?” Are you saying, “Oh Allah help me please so as not to sin?”

Allah (SWT) then says what can be translated as, "She closed the doors.” It was not just one door my brothers and sisters. It is as if the ayah implies that they were totally safe and completely isolated from everybody’s eyes. Notice that the Arabic verb ghallaqat (closed firmly) is an exaggeration form of the verb aghallaqat (closed); she closed the doors firmly. He was safe from scandal; no one will ever know. Fear of scandal is one of the things that hold many youth back from committing this sin. Yusuf (AS) was faced with all the possible circumstances that could ever lead to it; he had them all at one go. Not only that; later on she even threatens him. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "(she said,) if he refuses to obey my order, he shall certainly be cast into prison." (TMQ, 12:32). This is a wonderful excuse of course; you can easily say, “What could I have done. She was going to send me to prison. I had to do it!”

She then said what can be translated as, "come on, O you." The words used in Arabic “Hayta Laka,” express a complete and total offering of oneself; she is all ready and waiting for him, probably wearing the most seductive of clothes. Can you see that? Can you see the type of person you are when you do that? Then what happens? He says, “I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)!” (TMQ, 12:23). We have been with this woman as she sank deeper and deeper into the depth of her own vileness, sin and fornication. We have been filled with anger and disgust, but suddenly we are elevated high up in the sky. Can you feel it? Can you feel, “I seek refuge in Allah?” Allah (SWT) forbid that I should ever commit such a sin. How marvelous is this religion!

Some writers claim that including indecent scenes of intimacy in stories or in movies is inevitable. “We are depicting the society as it is,” they say, “would you rather retreat to your shells and not know the truth about your society? These scenes are there to tell you the truth about your society!” To those people we say, the Qur’an portrays society as well. However, when it relates this scene between Yusuf (AS) and al-Aziz's wife, does it stir up lust or does it rather invoke a strong feeling of renunciation of such base, worldly pleasures? If you have to show us the reality of our society, do it the same way the Qur’an does it. Do it in such a way that would not pull the youth into sin, but rather help them out of it. Can you see how marvelous the Qur’an is? It narrates a true story and describes a very critical situation so wonderfully, yet so purely, without stirring up lust even for a minute. On the contrary, as you hear, “I seek refuge in Allah," you feel that your soul is loftier and nobler than ever.

Let me tell you this, my brothers and sisters; the thing that provokes Allah's anger most is adultery and anything that might lead to it. Narrated by Samura Ibn-Jundub, the Prophet (SAWS) says, “Last night two Angels came to me (in a dream) and said, ‘Come with us.’ I set out with them and we came across something like a Tannur (a kind of huge baking oven, a pit usually clay-lined for baking bread). I think the Prophet (SAWS) said, ‘In that oven there was much noise and voices.’ The Prophet (SAWS) added, ‘We looked into it and found naked men and women, and beheld, a flame of fire was reaching to them from underneath, and when it reached them, they cried loudly. I asked them, ‘Who are these people?’ They said, ‘They are the adulterers and the adulteresses.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 171). Note that this is not the Day of Judgment's punishment. Would you ever commit such an outrageous sin after what you have heard? Would you even dare to come near it?

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And come not near to unlawful sex. Verily, it is a Fahishah (i.e. a great sin), and an evil way to follow." (TMQ, 17:32). Do you know what the end of this "evil way” is? You will either die disgraced or poor. This is what adulterers and adulteresses are destined for! Moreover, if someone dies in the act of committing adultery, he or she will be resurrected on the Day of Judgment doing just that. Do you have any guarantees that you will not die while committing this sin? Do you? Just imagine the humiliation and the embarrassment. Stand fast my brothers and sisters. Resist fahishah and all that might lead to it. Don't say, “I am not committing adultery; we just kiss or touch.” If you are doing that, adultery is very close by. Young men and women who are involved in Orfi marriages (customary and unregistered marriage), boys and girls in high school who are committing such and such sins, what will you say to your Lord? Wake up!

The Prophet (SAWS) said, “There are three types of people that Allah (SWT) would neither speak to, nor would He forgive them on the Day of Judgment and there is grievous torment for them: the aged adulterer, the liar king and the proud destitute.” (Narrated by Abu-Huraira, Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0195). The first one on the list is the aged adulterer. Why is that? Well, he would never be sleeping around at that age unless he had made a habit of it when he was still young. Take care my brothers and sisters; once you start, it is very hard to stop. You will get married, have your own kids, and still you will not be able to restrain yourself until you eventually die as an adulterer whom Allah (SWT) would neither speak to, nor forgive. Don't think you will be able to stop once you get married. You won't unless you resolve to repent starting today.

Young ladies, listen to this Hadith. 'Ata Ibn-Abu-Rabah narrated, Ibn-'Abbas said to me, “Shall I show you a woman of the people of paradise?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “This lady came to the Prophet (SAWS) and said, ‘I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.’ The Prophet (SAWS) said (to her), ‘You can be patient and enter al-Jannah (paradise) and if you wish I will invoke Allah to cure you.’ She said, ‘I will remain patient,’ and added, ‘but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’ He invoked Allah (SWT) for her.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 70, Number 555). Do you know what she meant by ‘uncovered?’ She meant that her robe would slightly lift up and expose her legs! She was that shy! How could we ever have Orfi marriage?

In another Hadith, the Prophet (SAWS) says, “For every betrayer (unfaithful person), a flag will be raised on the Day of Judgment, and it will be announced (publicly), ‘This is the betrayal (perfidy) of so-and-so, the son of so-and-so’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 196). The young girl who betrayed her father and mother, who disobeyed Allah (SWT) and got into a relationship with a man and unofficially married him without her parents’ knowledge, will have a flag raised for her and will be exposed in front of all creation, “This is the betrayer of so-and-so.” Would you really do that to your father and mother?

Lady Maryam (AS) (Mary) was not called the purest of womankind for no reason. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Allah sets forth an example for those who believe … Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity." (TMQ, 66: 10, 12). It was because she guarded her chastity. In another ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “(Maryam said,) “would that I had died before this.”" (TMQ, 19:23). She wished she had died before anyone would even call her a sinner. Compare her to those who actually commit sins without thinking twice about it. Well, I am saying this to young men and women and I am hoping it would affect them, remind them of the right thing to do and bring them back to the straight path.

Let us go back to our main story now. What are the reasons that made al-Aziz’s wife do what she did? The main reason was her idle life. She had nothing to do. Yusuf (AS) was there, in front of her all the time. He was a slave who could not do anything about it, and her husband was too busy to notice anything at all. She loved him. As the years passed by, her love grew bigger and seeing how strong and youthful he was, it eventually turned into a lustful desire.

I have been thinking about the reason why people have extra-marital relationships. If we did a questionnaire and asked the youth in Egypt or other countries why they have such relationships, we would normally get one of the following three answers:

1. “There is nothing better to do, just filling the time.”

2. “I am looking for true love."

3. “I want to sin! This is what I am planning to do”

The most important reason of these is having a great deal of time and not knowing how to use it. What are the problems associated with such relationships? I was on the net a couple of days ago. It was a women's site about marital infidelity. I found out that in all the stories on the site, the starting point of infidelity was having free time and convenient opportunities for seeing one's partner. Don't tell me, “Oh no, no, no. I am not doing anything wrong. I am just talking with her about religion. We are talking about nothing but religion.” If I asked how much time you spend talking together, you would probably say, “Well, from 12 o'clock at night until 7 o'clock in the morning.” What could you possibly be talking about? I can not believe it! The time you have now is your investment! You should never let it go to waste! Can you imagine a person who would throw 100,000 pounds into the sea? He would be crazy, wouldn't he? You spent the whole night talking to a girl and you are saying you haven't done anything wrong! What could be more wrong than wasting your time? Do something useful instead! Besides, don't say it will never go beyond that because it will! It definitely will! Visit this site and you will find out that it will. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women." (TMQ, 3:14). You are a man, aren't you? It is instinctive, so things will definitely progress no matter what you think.

To you, young ladies, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "not committing illegal sex, nor taking boyfriends." (TMQ, 4:25). He knows what He has created. Don't say that you are just talking and chatting and that is the end of the story, because it isn't. Even if that is all you are doing, still it is a complete waste of your time. If you still do not believe me, try this little test with your boyfriend: while riding the car with him, tell him that his sister is with a stranger in the car in front of you, and you will see one of two reactions:

a) He will be furious and run out to the other car. If this happens, you will know then how he thinks of you.

b) He will act normally and say, “It is alright.” Then you will know what kind of person he is.

You can also play this trick while talking to him on the phone at 2 a.m. in the morning. Try telling him that his sister is on the other phone with your brother or something like this. He will either tell you, “I will hang up now and call back in two minutes!” After which you will hear the loud screams of his sister whom he will be beating; or he will simply say, “No problem.” I am asking you young ladies, are there any other possibilities? If he reacts in any other way, go on with your relationship. If it does not matter to you how he looks upon you, then I have nothing to tell you. This was my advice for you, young ladies. As for you, young men, Islam needs you! It really does! There are far more valuable things you can do with your time than this.

Finally, my brothers and sisters, why didn't Yusuf (AS) try to guide this woman? I am asking you that question because many young men, after attending lectures on religion, start feeling guilty of having relationships with girls and so they say, “We are only talking about religion. I am trying to guide her. You can not imagine how great she has become!” If that is alright, why didn't Yusuf (AS) do it? He did not even try? He chose to be in prison rather than to be anywhere near her. Do you know why he did not try to guide her? It would not have worked. The relationship she had with him was based on desire. Well, let us not say desire; it was based on love and physical attraction. If you are involved in one of these relationships, it will be hard for you to bring religion into it. Let someone else play that role, and find yourself another excuse.

This concludes our lecture, next time we will continue Prophet Yusuf's story starting with the ayah that can be translated as, "And indeed she did desire him, and he would have inclined to her desire." (TMQ, 12:24).

[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah: Ayah) of the Qur'an. Note: reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[2] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:38 AM

Yusuf – 4B:

Didn’t she take all precautions so as not to be found out? Didn’t she lock all the doors? Just to let you all know; if you are determined to do something wrong and this determination comes from the belief that no one will find out, then you are most likely to be found out!

She did what she did in belief that her husband was not home and she was sure that she had locked all the doors. Allah (SWT) made sure that she was found out. Whoever thinks that he or she can hide their actions from Allah (SWT) should know that it is Allah (SWT) who exposes or hides actions. If one intentionally disobeys Allah (SWT) and thinks that their worldly status is enough to cover their shame, then they are mistaken. It is only Allah (SWT) who either covers or exposes. My advice to such people is that if you do not fear Allah (SWT), then fear the fact that your actions will be exposed! A righteous person once said, “If your soul contemplates doing a sin, remind it of Allah (SWT). If it rejects this counsel, remind it of the good conduct worthy of a good person. If it rejects this too, remind it of the shame it will experience if it is exposed. Then if it still does not listen, know that you have become like an animal”, which is what happened to the wife of the Aziz..

When she saw her husband, she quickly said what can be translated as, “What is the (fitting) punishment for one who formed an evil design against thy wife, but prison or a grievous chastisement?” (TMQ, 12:25)[1]. She displays all the characteristics of evil and ignobleness. This is because she lacked modesty from the start.

We must remember that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was extremely modest, even more so than a virgin on her wedding night. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Faith (iman) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya is a part of faith” (This term "Haya" covers a large number of concepts including: self-respect, modesty, bashfulness, etc.). (Sahih Muslim: Book 001, Number 0055). Scholars suggest that the reason why the Prophet (PBUH) did not mention the remaining parts of faith is that because whoever can always be modest will also have the remaining parts of faith in their personality without them even realizing it.

To the young men who get frustrated because they lack the ability to talk sweetly with young women and girls, I say, “You are modest; be proud of it and do not try to change yourself”. Look at the Aziz’s wife’s lack of modesty; not only did she lie about what happened but she accused Yusuf (PBUH) of harassing her. She suggested how he should be punished, “… but prison or a grievous chastisement?” (TMQ, 12:25). Surprisingly, she still hoped to get what she desired from Yusuf; otherwise, she would have asked for his death in retribution for what he did and to hide her crime for ever, but she only asked for him to be punished or imprisoned.

In verse 25, although her words seem to be addressed to her husband, she is mainly talking to Yusuf in a threatening manner. She starts off by threatening him with prison before mentioning torture because prison is a softer option than torture.

How low could she stoop? Did she not claim to love him? Where is that love? Why did she ask the Aziz to put him in prison or to torture him if she loved him? She did not love him; it was merely lust.

This is the same story we see everyday. A young woman is showered with sweet words and promises of love for a long time just so that she can be persuaded into committing a sin (not necessarily adultery or fornication). Once her admirer gets what he wants, everything changes and he is no longer the sweet person he once was. He denies all his promises and takes back his words. She might have thought he loved her but if that was true and he did love her, then he would have gone the straight way and proposed to her.

When the wife of the Aziz said what can be translated as, “…What is the (fitting) punishment for one who formed an evil design against thy wife, but prison or a grievous chastisement?” (TMQ, 12:25), Yusuf (PBUH) could only say, “she seduced me”. We notice here that the word “my (true) self” is mentioned several times in the story, in what can be translated as:

1. “I did seek to seduce him from his true self but he did firmly save himself guiltless” (TMQ, 12:32).

2. “But she in whose house he was, sought to seduce him from his (true) self” (TMQ, 12:23).

3. “He said: "It was she that sought to seduce me from my (true) self” (TMQ, 12:26).

Do you see how he stopped his “nafs” (self or soul) from committing sin? He tried hard indeed! There are many people who are easily led by Satan as if they are camels being led by their owners. He leads them to different sins and they follow him obediently.

Yusuf (PBUH) said what can be translated as, “it was she that sought to seduce me from my (true) self” and the verse continues “And one of her household saw (this) and bore witness, (thus): - "If it be that his shirt is torn from the front, then is her tale true, and he is a liar!” (TMQ, 12:26). This witness did not actually see what happened. This means that it was the Aziz who called for a witness. This is an indication of a very sophisticated science called criminology. It seems that the ancient Egyptians were experts in this field and there was someone employed by the Aziz whose job was to analyze the case and judge accordingly. This man also happened to be a relative of the Aziz’s wife.

Abu-Bakr (RA) said, “If I lost the rope that I use to tie my camel, I would find it in the book of Allah (the Qur’an)”, meaning that everything originates from the Qur’an, even criminology.

The criminologist employed by the Aziz asked for any evidence that could be provided about the case and he was presented with Yusuf’s shirt, about which he quickly said (his well known statement), “But if it be that his shirt is torn from the back, then is she the liar, and he is telling the truth!” (TMQ, 12:27). We know that when he said this he had not yet seen the shirt as the following verse (28) says what can be translated as, “So when he saw his shirt…” (TMQ, 12:28).

It is obvious that this man was an expert and knew exactly what he was doing. Before seeing the shirt, he suggested that if it were torn from the front, the fighting would have been from the front. This would’ve meant that he was trying to assault her because only then she could have torn his shirt from the front. However, if the shirt were torn from the back, it would mean that he was running away from her and she had torn it from the back, which would mean that she was lying.

After the case was presented to the expert, he found that the shirt was torn from the back. “So when he saw his shirt, - that it was torn at the back, - (her husband) said: "Behold! It is a snare of you women! Truly, mighty is your snare!” (TMQ, 12:28). These words could have been said by either the expert or the Aziz, both possibilities are logical, however, it is more likely that the Aziz said it.

What does “truly, mighty is your snare!” mean, especially when we compare it to Allah’s words that can be translated as, “the snare of Satan was weak”? It means that women have a store of ruses. If they obey Allah (SWT), this store disappears but if they let it control them, it changes into a power that oppresses and destroys everything. Men have physical power whereas women have the power of deception. The power to deceive is very strong in women. When they use it for revenge and forget Allah (SWT), this trickery becomes an illness. (But a person who depends on Allah (SWT), and whose self-discipline keeps him away from sin should not fear anyone’s deception).

The Aziz's reaction to this incident was very strange. After learning what the expert had to say, he suggested very strange things. Up until this point, there were only four people who knew what has happened between the Aziz's wife and Yusuf (PBUH). They were the Aziz, his wife, Yusuf (PBUH) and the witness. The Aziz then says to Yusuf (PBUH) what can be translated as, “O Joseph, pass this over!” (12:29), meaning do not talk about this matter (i.e. forget about it). Then he turned to his wife and said what can be translated as, “(O wife), ask forgiveness for thy sin, for truly thou hast been at fault!” (TMQ, 12:29).

This was how he dealt with the situation! He was afraid to loose his social stature; he was more afraid of that than the sin that has been committed in his house. He did not even ask Yusuf (PBUH) to leave the house! “..and she said (to Joseph), "Come out before them." When they saw him, they did extol him, and (in their amazement) cut their hands: they said, "(Allah) preserve us! no mortal is this! this is none other than a noble angel!” (TMQ, 12:31) i.e. he was still in the house.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that there are three people who Allah (SWT) will not look at on the Day of Judgment and will not sanctify them and theirs will be a painful penalty: the person who is disobedient to his parents, the woman who acts like a man and the person who does not act or say anything when he sees his family committing a sin.

Is it possible that a man would sacrifice his honor for a high social standard? Is it possible that ethics can be destroyed for the sake of money, employment and social status? Some people, in their youth, would not even imagine taking such stance. However, when they are faced with worldly temptations, such stances become the norm to them and they sink to the lowest stage of decline. Never be such a person!

Notice that the person who lied in this story ended up being exposed and the one who concealed the sin also was exposed. Those who lied in this story were Yusuf’s brothers and the wife of the Aziz and they were all exposed.

The Aziz was exposed because he tried to conceal the sin. We know this because the in the next verse Allah says what can be translated as, “Ladies said in the City: "The wife of the (great) 'Aziz is seeking to seduce her slave from his (true) self: Truly hath he inspired her with violent love: we see she is evidently going astray.” (TMQ, 12:30). The Aziz asked Yusuf (PBUH) not to mention the incident to anyone but the matter reached the people anyway. Do you see how he was exposed because he was keeping silent in a criminal matter? All this to maintain his high social stature!

Do not let go of your ethics and morals at any time just because you need to get a good job or because people will respect you more. Also, do not harm a friend or stab him in the back just to get his position or his job because no matter what, you will be exposed!

When life is hard on a person and he has little money and lives in unfavorable conditions, he sometimes would let go of his values and morals. It starts when greed tempts him to look for a better social stature or to get some more money. Remember that Allah (SWT) is watching over you no matter what conditions you are facing. So lose everything (if you must) but do not lose your values and do not justify your actions by saying that everyone else is doing wrong so I might as well do it. Remember that it is Allah (SWT) who decides what your income and social status is going to be.

In this story, everybody loses except Yusuf (PBUH) who was steadfast in his faith. You too can be like him and be steadfast in your faith.

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[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:39 AM

Yusuf – 5B:

Yusuf (PBUH) knew that one was to live and one was to die; yet why did he call both unto Allah's (SWT) path? This has a very significant importance; it means that no matter what, one must call anyone who has a soul unto Allah's (SWT) path. Do you understand this meaning? He refused to tell the dying man that he was going to die until he called him unto Allah's (SWT) path; pay attention to this serious issue of da'wa, it is a religious duty not an option. Allah the Almighty says what can be translated as, “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islam), enjoining Al-Ma‘rouf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden.)” (TMQ, 3:104) [1]. Allah (SWT) also says what can be translated as, “You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma’rouf and forbid Al-Munkar and believe in Allah.” (TMQ, 3:110). But why are we the best of all nations? Brothers, Allah (SWT) doesn't hide anything, He carefully chooses His people. The Prophet (PBUH) says, “You shall enjoin good deeds and forbid bad deeds or else Allah will inflict you and never answer your supplications.” (Sahih at-Tirmidhi, 1762). If you don't help others into Islam, your supplication will not be accepted or answered, and you will be punished before everybody else.

Da'wa is much more than this; it is the most rewarding act in this life. I'm saying all this hoping that everyone present today will start planning to help his or her friends. By helping others into Allah's (SWT) Path, you will get the highest rewards in your life. Allah the Almighty says what can be translated as, “And who is better in speech than he who [says: “My Lord is Allah (believes in His Oneness),” and then stands firm (acts upon His Order), and] invites (men) to Allah’s (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says, “I am one of the Muslims.”“ (TMQ, 41:33). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says, “If Allah guides one man through you, it is better for you than having the best of camels.” (Sahih Bukhari, 2942). Nowadays the best of camels are equivalent to the best Mercedes. In another Hadith, “If Allah guides one man through you, it is better than the whole world and what is in it.” Allah the Almighty says what can be translated as, “Because of that We ordained for the Children of israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life” (TMQ, 5:32).

One day a man called me on the phone and told me that his son is taking drugs and asked me to help him, when the man felt I was busy he said, “..and whoever brings a soul to life brings all people to life”. I was really touched when I thought that by helping one man I would reform all mankind, you would bring him back to life, which proves the meaning that Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Is he who was dead (without Faith by ignorance and disbelief) and We gave him life (by knowledge and Faith) and set for him a light (of Belief) whereby he can walk amongst men - like him who is in the darkness (of disbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy) from which he can never come out?” (TMQ, 6:122). Thus to those without faith their own deeds seem pleasing. Brothers, bring all those around you back to life. It would be as if you have brought the whole universe back to life because you'll bring one back, and he or she will bring another back, and he or she will bring another back.

Pay attention to this Hadith, “Whoever calls for a good deed shall reap its reward and the rewards of those who abide by it.” (Sahih al-Albany, 65). Have you tried to guide someone? Was he or she guided? If yes, then you shall reap his or her rewards, all his or her prayers and all forms of worship, etc...until he or she dies. Similarly you will reap the rewards of whoever was guided through him or her; it's a chain that extends even after death. On the Day of Judgment, you will find that you have much more hasanat (good deeds) than you had expected. As you had guided one person, he guided someone else, and he in turn guided another etc… Brothers, this issue could lead you to Heaven even if you had many sins, so choose those whom you shall guide, because they shall guide others. Choose the most effective member in your group of friends, let him love Allah (SWT) and be patient with him until he is guided, and when he is, the rest of the group will be guided and this will all go into your balance of good deeds. Islamic da'wa, brothers, is helping people into Allah's (SWT) Path, and it has great rewards, other than the fact that it’s a duty and it's the only remaining hope for Muslims.

I'm telling you frankly that the only hope left for Muslims is through da'wa, not through bombs or weapons. We should do what our Prophet (PBUH) did. What did he do? He only had his friend, Abu-Bakr, while their whole environment was of disbelievers, he started correctly. Now the world has one billion and four hundred million Muslims thanks be to Allah (SWT). So he started with Abu-Baker, and he in turn started with seven and the seven helped seven, till they became seventy. Six of the people of Madinah came to the Prophet (PBUH), and told him they will return the following year, and twelve returned. The Prophet (PBUH) was very happy, that meant that everyone brought someone, so he told them to leave and return the following year, so seventy three men and two women returned the next year. Then he told them leave now and I'll come to you the following year, and the next year there wasn't a single house in Madinah that didn’t have a Muslim. If you ask what the plan to aid Islam was, it did not lie in violence or fighting, but in simply waking those around you up. If we become good Muslims, our problems will be solved, “Verily! Allah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).” (TMQ, 13:11) “Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession to (the present rulers) in the land, as He granted it to those before them …” (TMQ, 24:55).

It's clear, leading Islam to victory is your responsibility, don't slack off and blame circumstances, wake your neighbors and your workmates up. Friends, Islam is the responsibility of everyone hearing this until Judgment of Day; the more people you wake up, the more reward you get from Allah (SWT). You must tell others of what you heard today. There's no other hope, plan, or pride for Islam other than that which our Prophet (PBUH) did. The Prophet (PBUH) used to perform tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka'ba) while there were 76 idols; he didn't destroy any of them, so a new Muslim joined Islam everyday. He called them to Islam with all due respect and proper manners. In turn they had a life full of success and hence they led the whole world for a whole 25 years.

Now let us start with the fourteen points. Some people say that they didn't help others into Allah's (SWT) Path because they don't have much knowledge, and we'll answer them by saying what the Prophet (PBUH) said “report on my behalf, even if just a single verse,” if you know just one verse, tell it to others”. Didn't you know that praying is a duty? Help people into liking prayer. Tell your friends and family about this lecture. Al- Imam Ibn Hanbal says, “Whoever knows of something becomes knowledgeable about it.” Do you hear this? You have become knowledgeable. Didn't you know that Friday Prayer (al-Jama’a) is important? Then tell others about it, but don't tell others about things you have no knowledge about. Moreover, many people say they don't know how to call others into Allah's (SWT) Path because they're not good believers. Some say that they're new in religion and women who don't wear Hijab feel that they can't call anyone to Allah's (SWT) Path. How shall they call to Allah's (SWT) Path if they're not veiled, or have many sins? But of course you can. Allah the Almighty says what can be translated as, “Enjoin you Al-Birr (piety and righteousness and each and every act of obedience to Allah) on the people and you forget (to practice it) yourselves. “ (TMQ, 2:44). Allah (SWT) forbids us to neglect ourselves. It's very dangerous to order others to do what's good while we're planning not to apply it ourselves. If a person smokes, he should advise another smoker to quit, while having the intention to quit himself. Da'wa lets you reform yourself. If I don't lower my gaze, I can advise someone to lower his gaze, while bearing witness in front of Allah (SWT) that I shall quit staring myself. The advice for you and me, is that whomever orders people will start to feel ashamed of himself and will eventually quit, thus you're the first one to benefit from da'wa.

If you want to remain steady in obeying Allah (SWT), call people into Allah's (SWT) Path; similarly, you can do the same if you want to renew your faith after a period of alienation. Many men and women present here today were strong believers and then started to drift away because they got used to being religious. If you want to renew your faith, call someone into Islam and at the same time you will be renewing your own faith, as if your cells are renewing themselves. Al-Imam Ibn Taymiyya has a very nice word on this, “Don't say you will not call others until your faith is complete, for you will face one of two situations: either you come one day to the belief that your faith has been completed - only then you must know that you’ve been led astray - or you may die with incomplete faith.” Therefore, call others into Islam with your current capacities, and maintain a balance in calling others and working on your self. You have no excuse, Islam is your responsibility and you will reap great rewards. Now, let us learn the art of da'wa. Let us read some verses, and live so closely with them. Sheikh Shaaban will recite to us from verse 37 till 41, and I will derive all 14 points, and whoever guesses, even five of them, will receive great rewards.

Recitation: “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 Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter (i.e. the Kan‘anyyûn of Egypt who were polytheists and used to worship sun and other false deities. And I have followed the religion of my fathers- Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaq (Isaac) and Yaqoub (Jacob) 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 neither believe in Allah, nor worship Him). “O two companions of the prison! Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible? “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. The command (or the judgment) is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e. His Monotheism); that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not. O two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he (as a servant) will pour out wine for his lord (king or master) 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”( TMQ, 12:37-41).

1- We have started with the verse that Sheikh Shaaban recited, “Verily, we think you are one of the Muhsinun (doers of good).” (TMQ, 12:36). Thus, the first step in the art of da'wa is having good manners. If you don't perform good deeds, people will not like you, not even a single person will be guided by you, but if you perform good deeds and have little knowledge, ten people may be guided by you. Please dear brothers, concentrate on these fourteen steps and try to apply them. I've tried to search the Qur’an for other verses that contain the art of da'wa, but I realized that they are all found in these verses, so please concentrate on them if you want to have a role in Islam.

2- Again, we will discuss the verse that can be translated as, “Verily, we think you are one of the Muhsinun (doers of good).” (TMQ, 12:36) Because it has two meanings, the outside appearance and the behavior. We've already discussed the last; as for the first, it means that one must take care of his or her outer appearance. If you want to have a good impression about people, take care of your appearance. Dress nicely and take care of your hygiene and tidiness. Buy your clothes with the intention of leaving a good impression of a well-dressed religious people. Appearances are really important dear brothers. You find some young men who grow untidy beards and look like prisoners! Please take care of keeping a tidy beard even if you had to pay some extra money. Be a good example for guidance. Wear clothes that are customary in your country. A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) dressed as a priest, so the Prophet (PBUH) asked him why he was dressed like that, the man answered that it was a dress for humbleness, so the Prophet (PBUH) asked him, “are you a priest?” the man replied that he was not, so the Prophet (PBUH) said, “then wear what your people wear.” The Muslim man doesn't have a specific dress code, the Prophet (PBUH) wore what the Romans (who were enemies back then) wore, and wore Ethiopian clothes, armors and iron suits, so that people won't say dressing in a foreign manner was against the Sunnah. As long as it is not revealing or tight. The real meaning behind dressing as your people dress is for you to make yourself familiar to people.

3- “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.' “ (TMQ, 12:37). Prophet Yusuf (AS) had the gift of interpreting dreams. Use your gift to guide people. What can you do really well? Do you know how to use the computer? Teach others how to use it, and through contacting others you'll be able to guide them into Allah's (SWT) Path. Everyone has a gift, which Allah (SWT) has granted them, he or she should be able to take advantage of this gift. One's gift may be friendliness. Prophet Yusuf (AS) took advantage of his gift. When people find that they need someone for his talent, he or she’ll affect them. You should be able to know your gift, and how to lead people into guidance and affect them utilizing this gift.

4- Self-confidence but not arrogance. If you want to leave a good impression on people, don't be shy when you talk to them. Be sure of your da'wa, and talk with absolute confidence. In the verse that can be translated as, “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.' “(TMQ, 12:37). Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) was very sure of himself without being arrogant. He told them that his vision was so powerful that he could tell them what kind of food he saw so accurately. Many people talk about religion so timidly. A girl may be talking her friend into wearing the veil with hesitance, being scared that she may make fun of her, and similarly a young man who is afraid of the ridicule of his friends. Be confident in yourselves. Ali Ibn Hatem Al-Ta’ee, the son of the leader of Arabs, the famous man we all know, came to the Prophet (PBUH), so the Prophet (PBUH) called him into Islam, but Ali rejected. So the Prophet (PBUH) confidently said, “I know why you don't want to become a Muslim,” and Ali replied, “what is it?” the Prophet rejoined, “You say we are weak and poor. I swear by Allah, (notice the Prophet's (PBUH) confidence), this deen shall prosper, and there will excess wealth, and a woman shall leave al-Hira, do you know al-Hira, Ali?” Ali said, “I heard of it,” The Prophet (PBUH) continued, “ a woman shall leave al-Hira and perform tawaf around the Ka'ba and will only be afraid of Allah” Ali said that he only believed the Prophet (PBUH) when he talked so confidently, thus when the Prophet (PBUH) died, two prophecies came true, I saw the woman leave al-Hira being only afraid of Allah (SWT) and the deen prospered, and I'm still waiting for the third, having too much money to be spent, because the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) told me so”

5- Talk to people with love and affection, love people so they will believe you. Is it possible that the key to one's mind is his heart? Yes, this is found in the verse that can be translated as, “O my two companions of the prison!”( TMQ, 12:39). This is how Prophet Yusuf (AS) addressed his prison companions, even though one of them served wine to the King. Imagine that Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to touch the man's heart (whom we might want to beat up instead of trying to help). Friends, this is a very important issue, if you don't apply it, no one will accept you or love you. Loving people and being loved by them is essential for da'wa. We all know the story of the orphan believer in Surah Yassin who was killed and was sent to Heaven. When he was lead into Heaven he said what can be translated as, “Would that my people knew” (TMQ, 36:26). Can you love people that much? If you want to win people's hearts you should love them. How can you let people love you? I'll tell you a few simple things. If you want people to quickly love you, buy them gifts. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Give each other gifts in order to love each other.” (al-Albany, 3004). Always have little gifts with you, like chocolate or candy or a religious tape. Safwan ibn Omayya said that he used to hate the Prophet (PBUH) so much until that day in Hunein when he kept giving him gifts until he loved him. He couldn’t help but love him because he gave him so much and treated him so kindly. If you want people to love you, give them gifts, or pay them visits at home.

The Prophet (PBUH) says, “Allah will send an angel to every man who visits a brother for the sake of Allah, who says you are blessed as you walk, and you are blessed with Heaven”. (Sahih Ibn-Majah, 1184). You're so lucky, an angel will follow you and bless you because you're visiting someone to affect his heart. If you want to guide people, you should talk to them kindly. Some people are very harsh in their approach. I just heard the story of a son who told his father that he will not go to Heaven if he kept doing the things that he was doing. Brothers, you should talk to people with much kindness. The Prophet (PBUH) used to treat the companions very kindly. Once the Prophet (PBUH) was walking and met one of the companions named Zaher who was not good looking, so the Prophet (PBUH) hugged his back. Being a tough man who wasn't used to people being kind to him, Zaher asked who was hugging him, so the Prophet loosened his grip and opened his arms for him. This is utmost kindness. Thus, Zaher said, “I have never been as happy in my entire life as when the Prophet's body touched mine, and then he raised my arm in the market and called, “who will buy this slave, who will buy this slave?” The Prophet (PBUH) was joking with him. So Zaher said, “who will possibly buy me?” thus the Prophet (PBUH) replied, “You are very precious to Allah.” Do you think that Zaher ever disobeyed Allah (PBUH) again? If you want to help people, show them you care. In another incident, the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu-Baker went to meet a tribe which had a poet called Ka'b. The Prophet (PBUH) used this information very wisely when he was introduced to Ka'b and showed him attention by boosting his ego, thus, Ka'b really loved the Prophet (PBUH). Show people you care by boosting their egos. In an American survey, it was discovered that the most commonly used word in telephone conversations is “I”. People like to feel confident, so work with people on this basis without making them feel arrogant. Smile, for the Prophet (PBUH) said, “smiling at your brother is a form of charity.” (al-Albany – the authentic series – 572). Smile with the intention that you hope Allah (SWT) will guide that person's heart. Shaking hands warmly with a person is like joining two hearts with faith. I'm giving you an international recipe for da'wa: First, good manners, then, good appearance, the last one being really important.

6. Show interest in people's problems and try to help them solve them. Prophet Yusuf (AS) didn't take the matter of listening to his prison companions' dreams lightly, nor did he tell the man who served wine that he was going to Hell. He tried to help them solve their problems, which were related to their livelihood, and said what can be translated as, “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.” (TMQ, 12:37). The art of da'wa entitles that you listen to people's problems first and try to find out how you can help them solve them, thus they will start to listen to you and take your advice.

7. Do not insist. What does that mean? If a woman has become religious recently, while her husband still doesn’t pray, she shouldn't be too insistent when she asks him to start praying, since this will make him hate religion. Many women do so with their children, and many sons do so with their parents, and this is really bad and misleading. The Prophet (PBUH) never used to insist, as his companions used to say. He used to talk a little and then be silent. Take a look at verses 37, through 41. You will notice that verse 37 talks about dunya (this life), whereas verses 38 through 40 talk about deen (religion), then verse 41 talks about dunya. What should we do? Brothers, you should be careful. Don't talk about religion all the time. Be diverse, talk about sports, for example, or any other thing the person likes.

8. Search for attractive methods of approach. Search for whatever will make people interested in what you are about to say. Look at what Prophet Yusuf (AS) did. His companions in the prison wanted to ask him to interpret their dreams and he wanted to call them to Allah's Path. He didn’t answer their question right away or else, they would have heard the answer and left. He knew they needed him and he wanted to get his message through, so he started off by saying what can be translated as, “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” (TMQ, 12:37) thus, they paid careful attention to him, then he started telling them about what he wanted to say. If a girl talks to you about fashion, don't tell her that what she's wearing is haram and will only lead her to Hell, talk to her about what she likes in detail, then discuss religion right after you finish the first part as Prophet Yusuf (AS) did, and finally give her some names for shops that sell decent but fashionable clothes. If someone asks you about computers, you answer him about computers and not religion, and similarly if a friend of yours asks you about sports. Don't tell him that his talk is silly and useless, or else you will lose this friend forever. Start with daily matters, then move to religion, and finally end with daily matters. Use an attractive approach. If your friend likes parties, make her a small gathering. If your friends like football, schedule a small match. If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them.

9. Approach people's minds not only their emotions. Some women and men are very emotional, and they like to approach others this way, but one must also approach people's intellects. “(I ask you): are many lords differing among themselves better, or Allah, the One Supreme and Irresistible?”( TMQ, 12:39). How should you do that? For example, ask them, how long do you think you will live? Where are you going? Where do you think we'll go after death? Do you think we were only created to eat and drink? What are your goals in life? Be diverse. Approach people by appealing to both their minds and emotions.

10. Talk about Allah's (SWT) blessings on you. Use the verse 38 that can be translated as, “that (comes) of the grace of Allah to us and to mankind: yet most men are not grateful “ (TMQ, 12:38). When you start mentioning Allah's (SWT) blessings upon you, people's hearts will be moved.

11. Talk politely. Don't embarrass people. If you want to leave a good impression on people, talk to them using the kindest words. Let me show you some nice examples from Prophet's Yusuf's (AS) story. He didn't accuse the man who served wine of being a disbeliever although he really was. He told them (his prison companions) what can be translated as, “I have (I assure you) abandoned the ways of a people that believe not in Allah and that (even) deny the Hereafter.” (TMQ, 12:37) “Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible?” (TMQ, 12:39). He didn't want to insult them. Don't tell anyone that he will go to hell, or that he's totally lost. Search for the kindest words. Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) didn't tell one of his prison companions that he was going to die so bluntly, instead he said what can be translated as, “O my two companions of the prison! As to one of you, he will pour out the wine for his lord to drink: as for the other, he will hang from the cross, and the birds will eat from off his head.”( TMQ, 12:41). Sometimes, we make people hate religion because we are too blunt. I remember one time I was in Alexandria with friends and we were standing near a funfair, while people where screaming and playing as normally happens in such places. One of my friends was religious and the other wasn't, so the first wanted to bring the other closer to religion and said, “Do you know what all this screaming reminds me of? It reminds me of people screaming in hell,” He wanted to touch his heart and instead, he made him want to leave as quickly as possible. Please choose your words carefully.

12. This step is very useful. Open up to people. Don't be mysterious instead let people know the real you. This will make a big difference, because when people know who you are, they find it easy and interesting to deal with you. As long as they feel you're mysterious or that you're frowning all the time, they will not trust you. I've deduced this point from verse 38 that can be translated as “And I have followed the religion of my fathers, - Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaq (Isaac) and Yaqub (Jacob) and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to Allah.” (TMQ, 12:38). Prophet Yusuf (AS) introduced himself as the grandson of Prophet Ibrahim (AS); therefore, you should introduce yourself to people and open your heart to them.

13. You must remind people of the hereafter but in a proper manner “and are disbelievers in the Hereafter.” Remind people of the hereafter, Day of Judgment, and heaven, but without scaring them, or else it will be useless.

14. Be vehement about Islam. This is found in the verse that can be translated as “Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible?” (TMQ, 12:38). Prophet Yusuf (AS) wasn't embarrassed to call his prison companions to Islam even though they were criminals.

Let us summarize those fourteen steps:

1- Good manners

2- Good appearance

3- Use your gifts to guide people

4- Have unshakeable self-confidence

5- Love people and make sure they love you back

6- Be interested in knowing and solving people's problems

7- Do not be too insistent in matters of religion

8- Search for the most attractive ways to approach people

9- Approach people's minds and not only their hearts

10- Emphasize Allah's blessings upon us

11- Talk politely without having to hurt people

12- Open up to people and introduce yourself to them

13- Remind people of the Hereafter

14- Be vehement about Islam.

I ask Allah the Almighty that those fourteen steps were of benefit to you.

The first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijja are the dearest days of the year to Allah (SWT), even more than the last ten days of the month of Ramadan. The Prophet (PBUH) says, “There aren't any days in the whole year where good deeds are more loved by Allah (SWT) than the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja,” (Narrated by al-Albany, Sahih Ibn-Majah, 1404), so they asked him, “Not even jihad, O Messenger of Allah?” and he replied, “Not even jihad, except that a man sacrifices his life, leaves with all his money and returns with nothing.” The Prophet (PBUH) means that worshipping and obedience in these ten days are more loveable to Allah (SWT) than jihad itself. Many scholars say that Allah the Almighty ordered hajj to take place during these days, because these days are most loved by Allah (SWT), and because the day of Arafa is the most beloved day of the year, Allah (SWT) forgives people during that day more than any other day of the year. However, why isn't it as famous as the night of al-Qadr in Ramadan?

Unfortunately, the fact that it isn't famous is a problem in our nation. Does anyone know when exactly the night of Qadr is? However, we know when the day of Arafa is, so we should take good advantage of it. The scholars were debating the issue of the favorite days to Allah (SWT). Some argued that Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months.”( TMQ, 97:3). Others argued that Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “By the dawn. By the ten nights. (i.e. the first ten days of the month of Thul-Hijjah)”( TMQ, 89:1-2). The scholars were in disagreement, as to which days are dearer to Allah (SWT). Are they the last ten nights of Ramadan or the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja? Finally, they reached an agreement that the best nights of the year are the last ten nights of Ramadan and the best days of the year are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijja. Therefore, take good advantage of these nights and days to double your hasanat (good deeds). Allah (SWT) wants us to remain steady in our faith, thus, He sends us the month of Ramadan, and the last ten nights and finally the night of Qadr to maintain our faith, and when we start to slack, He asks us to fast six days of Shawwal to be revived again.

People complain that they miss the days of Ramadan, so Allah the Merciful and Great sends them ten days from Dhul-Hijja, for these are the best days. The Prophet (PBUH) used to fast the first nine days. The last day would be the feast which is included in those ten days, however many people ruin the blessings of those ten days during the feast. When people are in hajj, the tenth day is the most difficult one. The Prophet (PBUH) always fasted the first nine days so that he will encourage us to regain the strong spirituality we acquired during the month of Ramadan. He also used to give a lot of money in charity. Just like we advised you to double your hasanat in Ramadan, we will tell you the same thing in Dhul-Hijja. Read more Qur’an and visit your relatives. These days are exactly like the days of Ramadan. If we fast on the day of Arafa, Allah (SWT) will forgive us for a whole year that has passed and a whole year ahead. What's really nice in our country is that you find the same spirit of the days of Ramadan during the day of Arafa when you're walking in the street.

All people fast on the day of Arafa, so please remind your family of the blessings of this day, and call them to Allah (SWT) since we talked about the art of da'wa today. Fast together those ten days, and remind others of fasting, dhikr and supplication. The Prophet (PBUH) says, “The best supplication is made on Arafa Day,” (Narrated by al-Albany, Sahih at-Tirmidhi, 2837), your supplication will be answered on this day, whether you are in hajj or not. Allah (SWT) answers the supplications of all Muslims around the globe. Allah SWT) chooses those who have worshipped Him sincerely and forgives them completely on the day of Arafa; therefore, don't disobey Allah (SWT) at all these days. It is well known that you should make supplications all day and night, fast, and call people to Allah's (SWT) Path as a reminder for Allah's (SWT) blessings on that day. We're approaching the best days of our lives.

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[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:40 AM

Yusuf (AS) – 6B

“Then the man who was released (one of the two who were in prison), now at length remembered and said, "I will tell you its interpretation, so send me forth." (TMQ, 12:45)[1]. In this ayah, the Arabic word used for ‘remembered’ is eddakara. This word, in particular, means he had to spend some effort to remember. Together with Ummah; "at length", it indicates that Yusuf (AS) spent a very long time in prison. The same word eddakara was used in another surah, Allah (SWT) the Almighty says what can be translated as, “And we have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember; then is there any one who will remember (or receive admonition)?” (TMQ, 54:17) This ayah means that the Qur'an is simple and easy but it still needs an effort to fully understand and remember.

The man then says, "I will tell you its interpretation" in order to conceal the identity of the person who is to interpret the dream so that no one would go to Yusuf (AS) before him and take the credit for himself. The Arabic word faarsilun translated as "so send me forth" implies that the prison in which Yusuf (AS) is kept is in a desolate area far away from the city.

After that we read, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "O Yusuf, the man of truth…" (TMQ, 12:46) which is a very beautiful expression. Being a man of truth here means being truthful in speech, deeds and actions. In spite of the fact that Yusuf (AS) was charged in an offence against morality, the man could not call him anything but a man of truth[2].

The man then starts telling Yusuf (AS) the dream. If we compare the ayah in which the man asks Yusuf (AS) for his interpretation with the one in which the king's dream was first related, we will notice how accurate the retelling was. Such a merit is very hard to find nowadays, especially among females. We tend to exaggerate what we hear not knowing that changing one word could have far-reaching effects, sometimes serious enough to cause family break-ups. This is in contrast to the fact that we are the Muslims who should act like the man did, while this man was not a Muslim. Those who add words, facial expressions or looks, or even smiles to change someone else’s words should know that all of this is prohibited. It is even considered as Fisq (evil). Allah (SWT), the Almighty says what can be translated as, “O you who believe! If a Fasiq (liar - evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.” (TMQ, 49:6).

In the last three ayahs, Yusuf (AS) interprets the dream. He tells them that there will be seven fertile years followed by seven years of hardship as the Nile will dry up and there will be no rain. He tells them that the solution is to work very hard in the first seven years, and store what they harvest to make up for the seven years of drought that will follow. He shows them how to store the grains by keeping them in the ears and not taking them out; a method that was shown later on by modern science to be the most practical for seed preservation. He also tells them not to use up all the stock, but to keep some for planting new crops after the famine! He then says that there will come a fertile year after the dry seven years, in which the land will produce in abundance. This is implied by the word yaasiroon (press); only when there is prosperity do people start thinking about squeezing fruits and making juices. It is worth noting that this last year of prosperity was not in the king's dream. However, Yusuf (AS) expected it to come because only seven years of drought were mentioned. This shows that he was not only a worshipper who had great patience or a smart economist, but was a man of extraordinary intelligence as well.

Moreover, the nobility of his character is evident in the way he gave them the solution while he was still in prison in spite of everything they had done to him. Being a Muslim, he would not leave all these people to starve while he had a solution. This is a rule he sets for us. Therefore, I call upon all the young university graduates who come out honest and truthful and who see, after graduating, bad examples in the society to remember this ayah, and to stand firm and never abandon their principles.

Muhammad (SAWS) once told his companions about a particular man who will be one of those going to al-Jannah (paradise). Abdullah Ibn-Omar looked for this man, wanting to know what was so special about him. He found an ordinary Muslim who prayed moderately and led a normal life. Surprised, he asked him if he did anything special to make the Prophet (SAWS) say that. The man said that he did not do anything unusual, but it might be that he every night when he goes to sleep, he makes sure he has no grudges against anyone, and clears his heart from any hard feelings towards anyone.

This is how a Muslim should be. You should care about your fellow human beings and fellow Muslims. You should always have the same moral principles regardless of any changes around you. This is how Yusuf (AS) was; he remained steadfast and wanted prosperity for all human beings.

Another important issue we need to point out is: Is it permissible for a Muslim to guide a non Muslim or even a disbeliever to prosperity? Yes! The people Yusuf (AS) helped were not Muslims; actually they had several gods and they drank wine, yet he helped them. Being merciful to people is part of our religion. Compare between what Yusuf (AS) did and what others did, who dropped an atomic bomb on another country, or who is throwing tons of wheat into the sea for economic reasons. Be proud of your Islam and do not be attracted by other civilizations, copying them in things like listening to songs you do not even understand, or by not wearing the hijab (veil) thinking that makes you more civilized, because it refers to a civilization that has weakened. It is the religion which tells us to hold no grudges against anyone and to want prosperity for all people even if they are not Muslims.

The final part of the ayah mentions Yusuf's unique economic scheme. He was the first man ever to draw up a fifteen-year economic plan. Such method of planning was not known before the 20th century. The plan is as follows:

1. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "For seven consecutive years, you shall sow as usual…" (TMQ, 12:47). This is what we now call increasing production.

2. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as. "…and that (the harvest) which you reap you shall leave it in the ears..." (TMQ, 12:47). This refers to decreasing consumption and following a special storing technique. Can you see how wonderful our religion is? It is also a way of living, Shouldn’t you be proud of your Qur'an and carry it with you wherever you go?
3. Allah (SWT)says what can be translated as, "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)” (TMQ, 12:48). Consumption is to be planned over the seven years of famine, setting up a very fair food-distribution system (something like government family coupons which are used nowadays). By distributing food on a per capita basis, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as "…measure of a camel’s load…" (TMQ, 12:65), Yusuf (AS) also managed to prevent monopolies from forming. What a man he was! The more we know him the more we love him. We have seen his resistance to sins, his devotion to Allah (SWT), his patience in prison, his kindness to others, etc.
4. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as "Then thereafter will come a year …in which they will press" (TMQ, 12:65). Here comes preparing all the necessary materials until economic conditions are better.

All of this was a wonderful economic plan and this was how Yusuf (AS) was like: a prophet, a talented interpreter of dreams; a smart economist; a skilled strategist; a patient, strong and good-looking man. I think that after all this, you should be proud of your Islam. Those of you who understood Surat Yusuf must have also understood that in addition to being religious it is important to have good manners. What good would it be if you attend this lecture and do not try to brush up your skills and learn something useful?

Look for ideas and projects that would help reform and prosper you society.

[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah:Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[2] Editor’s note: It is worth noting that the first one ever to be called "a man of truth" after Yusuf (AS) was Abu-Bakr. (The lecturer's remark placed as a footnote by the translator).

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:42 AM

Yusuf (AS) – 7B

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Allah forbid! No evil know we against him!” (TMQ, 12:51)[1]. These words were uttered by the women, about whom Allah (SWT) says, in a previous ayah (verse), that which can be translated as, “Then, when they saw him, they exalted him (at his beauty).” (TMQ, 12:31).

These women changed; they became pious whereas before they were heedless and fascinated by Yusuf's (AS) (Joseph) beauty. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And (in their astonishment) cut their hands. They said, ‘How perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)! No man is this!’” (TMQ, 12:31). They tried to seduce him just as the wife of al-Aziz tried, and this is clear given Yusuf's supplication – as stated in the following ayah that can be translated as, “Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them.” (33) So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot.” (TMQ, 12:33-34).

What is the secret behind the women's change of heart?

Moreover, the following ayah shows that the wife of al-Aziz also changed, “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.’” (TMQ, 12:51). She, therefore, confessed her sin, as shown in this ayah in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “In order that he (al-Aziz) may know that I betrayed him not in (his) absence. And, verily! Allah guides not the plot of the betrayer. And I free not myself (from the blame). Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (TMQ, 12:52-53).

She was the same woman whom Allah (SWT) talked about in a previous ayah that can be translated as, “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.” (TMQ, 12:32). She ordered him to commit adultery with her. She was proud of this deed as indicated in the ayah, which can be translated as, “I did seek to seduce him.” (TMQ, 12:32). She closed the doors and invited him to commit adultery, in what can be translated as, “Come on, O you.” (TMQ, 12:23). When listening to these events, you may hate such a woman and hold her in contempt; a woman who let him spend nine years in prison for something he did not do.

What is it that made these women and the wife of al-Aziz change?

Notice here how Allah (SWT) forgives, accepts repentance and bestows mercy! All those who do not believe that Allah (SWT) forgives sins, such as adultery, drinking alcohol and so on, should be aware of this fact. Don’t you know that Allah (SWT), who forgave the women and the wife of al-Aziz, can forgive your sins? Why don’t you turn to Allah (SWT) in repentance? I cannot stress this enough; Allah (SWT) accepts the repentance of any disobedient person.

Over the six episodes dedicated to the story of Yusuf (AS), we have hated the wife of al-Aziz and were disgusted with her. However, she repented and Allah (SWT) accepted her repentance. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Then He forgave them (accepted their repentance), that they might beg for His pardon (repent (unto Him)).” (TMQ, 9:118).

Brothers and sisters! Do not despair! What is the greatest sin you have committed? How long have you been disobedient? Don’t you realize that Allah (SWT) forgives sins? Don’t you believe, as the wife of al-Aziz believed, that Allah (SWT) is “Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”? You must trust in Allah's mercy. I am sure that the previous sins of every attendant will be forgiven, if only he were honest with Allah (SWT). This act of forgiveness is best manifested in Hajj (pilgrimage). Millions of pilgrims climb up to Mount Arafat in the morning and descend it before sunset, with all their sins forgiven.

Do you know which sin that Allah (SWT) dislikes the most? It is your assumption that Allah's mercy does not extend to your wrong deeds. You, I, and everyone listening to us commit wrong deeds and evil acts. If such deeds are exposed, we will not endure each other. The only One to endure these deeds is Allah (SWT).

Muhammad Ibn-Wasi, one of the pious people, said, “If sins had any odor, we would not sit with each other.” On the other hand, Allah (SWT) endures your deeds, conceals your sins from people and preserves you while you are asleep. During the day, you commit evil deeds and at night while you are asleep, Allah (SWT) takes your soul (which is full of sins) and returns it in the morning. Allah (SWT) does this, daily, as long as you live. Hence, Allah (SWT), Who forgave the wife of al-Aziz, can forgive your sins, if only you begged for His forgiveness. It was narrated by al-Albany that, “The Prophet (SAWS[2]) told us of a western door - its width equivalent to seventy years of travel - left open by Allah (SWT) the day he created the heavens and the earth. The door will remain open until the Day of Judgment. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “Do you know what that door is?” They said, “No, Prophet of Allah (SAWS).” He said, “Repentance.”[3]

Why don’t you enter from that door which is as wide as seventy years (of travel)? How can you fall asleep without turning to Allah (SWT) in repentance? There are three conditions to achieve repentance:

1. Regret: ‘My heart aches and I am overwhelmed with tears for sinning for years. I cannot bear the thought of standing before Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment carrying my sins of drinking alcohol, fornication and drug abuse! How can I stand before him after disobeying His Commands, after accepting unlawful money and harming other people?’ This is how you must feel.

2. Giving up those sins.

3. Asserting never to recommit those sins.

One of the attendants could now have developed a particular bond with Allah (SWT), so that his heart is exclusively directed towards His love. I repeat again that there are three conditions for repentance: regretting the sins committed, giving them up and being committed not to go back to them again. We all have hidden sins. If I express my repentance to all of them, would Allah (SWT) forgive me? Yes, you would go out of that door with a clean sheet just as you would descend from Mount Arafat. Complete repentance is not just confined to pilgrimage, for Allah's Mercy is as wide as heaven. I will now stop talking for 15 seconds so that we all reconsider our actions.

(Pause for thought).

Shall I now turn to Allah (SWT) in repentance or am I still not capable of doing so? Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Say: “O ‘Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (TMQ, 39:53).

In fact, the story of the wife of al-Aziz is not the only example of repentance. There are many more difficult situations in the Prophet's biography. A clear example is Hind Bint-Utbah and the wrongful things she did to the Prophet (SAWS) and his companions. The Prophet (SAWS) named her the liver-eater. She hired someone to kill Hamza (the Prophet's uncle); after which she cut his abdomen open with a dagger, took his liver out and chewed it. In another narration, it was said that Hind Bint-Utbah and her husband Abu-Sufyan brought a spear and smashed Hamzah's mouth with it. Nonetheless, on the day of the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (SAWS) said, “Whoever enters the house of Abu-Sufyan will be safe, whoever lays down arms will be safe, whoever locks his door will be safe.”[4] Abu-Sufyan appreciated this (and called on people not to fight the Prophet (SAWS)). Nevertheless, his wife Hind stood against him and asked the people of Makkah to pay no attention to Abu-Sufyan and to get ready to fight the Prophet (SAWS).

Fifteen years later, Hind Bint-Utbah played a major role in the battle of al-Yarmuk. It was a decisive battle between the Muslims and the Romans, because the triumphant side would have great dominance on earth. The Roman army consisted of 240,000 soldiers while the Muslim’s had only 36,000. When the Muslims saw the number of Romans, they were panic-stricken and started to withdraw from the battlefield. Do you know who encouraged the Muslims to hold on firmly in the battlefield? It was Hind Bint-Utbah. She took a tent pole and used it to hit the horse of any Muslim trying to withdraw from the battlefield, crying out, “Where are you going, defenders of Islam? Where are you going, seekers of martyrdom?” She then added, “Are you running away from (meeting) Allah (SWT) or are you defeated before the gates of paradise? Do not disgrace the Muslims, for Allah's sake!” Seeing Abu-Sufyan withdrawing, she hit his horse with the pole and said to him, “Stand firm son of Sakhr. Isn’t it enough that we long fought against the Prophet (SAWS)? Atone for the wrong we caused the Prophet (SAWS) in the past and die while he is pleased with you!” Can any devout person nowadays say what the ‘the liver-eater’ said? Don’t despair and never give up on people.

Abu-Sufyan, for example, fought against the Muslims in the Battle of Uhud and al-Khandaq (the trench). Actually, he was the commander of the disbelievers’ troops for many years. However, in the Battle of al-Yarmuk, the few Muslim fighters heard a strong voice breaking the silence, “Oh, Muslims, stand firm! Oh, seekers of Jannah (paradise), hold your ground! Come to everlasting paradise!” To their surprise, the Muslims found the caller to be Abu-Sufyan. In the battlefield, Abu-Sufyan lost his right eye then he lost his left one in the battle of al-Qadisiyyah. Thus, he lost both eyes and died fighting for the sake of Allah (SWT).

Ikrimah Ibn-Abu-Jahl, who was known as ‘The Pharaoh of this Nation,’ was martyred in the Battle of al-Yarmuk. In that battle, he called, “Who can pledge to fight with me until death?” Four hundred men responded to his call. They fought with him until they all died for the sake of Allah (SWT).

The meanings I am trying to convey are: first, you must be sure of Allah's mercy, through which He accepted the repentance of those people. Second, don’t give up on people. Don’t you see that the wife of al-Aziz, the other women, Hind Bint-Utbah, and Ikrimah Ibn-Abu-Jahl did repent? Don’t despair of guiding people to the right path; have faith in them. People in our country in particular truly love Islam. Actually, the Egyptians are devout by nature; it is in their blood. I don’t say this merely because I am Egyptian, but from direct contact with people. Love of religion fills the Egyptians' hearts; all they need is to be led gently to the straight path with love and compassion.

Sometimes, a young man would come to me saying, “I am striving in vain with my friends. I made many attempts to guide them gently to the Straight Path. I prayed for them, I did so and so, but to no avail. What is wrong with them?” I would then advise him, “Be patient, for time is part of the remedy.”

What is the main reason that made the wife of al-Aziz and the other women turn to Allah (SWT) in repentance? Time is what makes people change. The majority of the young attendants today were definitely different three or four years ago; so were all of us. The wife of al-Aziz changed for the same reason that makes young people here change: being disgusted with sin and sick of following one's desires on the one hand, and longing for Allah (SWT) on the other hand. This is the explanation of what the wife of al-Aziz experienced.

Therefore, I always repeat that the glorious future will be for Islam. People are disgusted with the many widespread desires. They are fed up. Man is composed of body and soul. The body finds sins abhorrent. As the body has an appetite for food, the soul longs for Allah (SWT). As long as man is hungry, he feels something like a stomach ache. Likewise, when the soul longs for Allah (SWT), one feels agony until one returns to Him. This is why the wife of al-Aziz repented. This is why the glorious future will be for Islam. Humanity is fed up with the prevalent concept of materialism. Do people in the West sleep soundly? Did the rate of crimes drop? Have money and modern technology brought comfort to people? Is there no depression anymore or has it just increased? Has the number of psychiatrists decreased or is it on the increase? Actually, people all over the world are tired. They are in dire need for Islam and their hearts are filled with longing for Allah (SWT). That is why many people – young and old – have returned to the Straight Path and have turned towards Allah (SWT).

Do not feel embarrassed of your religion, for the glorious future will indeed be for Islam. Do not think that it is difficult or even impossible to come closer to Allah (SWT). The seeds of goodness are dormant inside people. They only need someone to bring them close to Allah (SWT). Hence, it is your role to awaken those around you. Do not alienate yourselves from people, but try to follow their style of dressing, greet them with a smile, adhere to good manners and distinguished qualities and lead a successful life.

Back to the ayat, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “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.’” (TMQ, 12:51). This ayah refers to a very fine trait: the courage of the wife of al-Aziz. What do we learn from her? She turned to Allah (SWT) in full repentance and honestly wanted to get Yusuf (AS) out of jail. She courageously admitted the whole truth without hesitation. We learn from her to be resolute. A young man may decide to put an end to his relationship with his girlfriend, agreeing to limit it to phone calls. This is the work of Satan to keep things going until a moment of weakness comes, then the relationship will be revived. The same goes for people who decide to repent of earning unlawful money. Nevertheless, they do not cease the dealings that lead to it but wait for them to subside on their own.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance!” (TMQ, 18:8). “Sincere repentance” means full repentance. You shouldn’t leave room for any eventualities of going back on your word. It is not enough to say that you have repented while keeping the girls’ telephone numbers. There is a possibility that you may change your mind and regret it afterwards. It is not enough to put the telephone numbers in a place you do not know.

In another ayah, Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “[Then Yusuf said, ‘I asked for this enquiry] in order that he (al-Aziz) may know that I betrayed him not in (his) absence.’” (TMQ, 12:52). Who is the one meant in the ayah? Is it Yusuf (AS), al-Aziz, or the king (of Egypt)? In fact, this is a manifestation of the eloquence of the Qur’an, for Allah (SWT) gives a word “him” that can have two meanings. This word is suitable for both meanings. It can indicate Yusuf (AS) who got out of jail (when the wife of al-Aziz confessed the truth). It can also refer to al-Aziz whose wife sought to seduce Yusuf (AS), but did not commit adultery.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And, verily! Allah guides not the plot of the betrayers.” (TMQ, 12:52). The person who betrays another person, showing good intentions while harboring malice, will be humiliated by Allah (SWT) in the end. Such rules are stated in the Holy Qur’an. The opportunist, who plans his promotion at the expense of his colleague, will eventually be dishonored by Allah (SWT) – as stated in the Holy Qur’an. Hence, never resort to such methods in your working life, but write down these precious principles and values and know them by heart.

There may be someone among you who knows a girl behind her family’s back, even if her mother knows, as we see today. A mother, hoping to see her daughter married, may permit the girl to go out with her boyfriend provided she (the daughter) lets her (the mother) meet him. If the mother finds her daughter's boyfriend cute, she blesses their relationship without telling the father. If the boyfriend gives the daughter a midnight call and it happens that her father answers the phone, he would simply hang up. Thus, any girl who has a boyfriend without her family’s knowledge is betraying them. She is being disrespectful after all they have done for her.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And I free not myself (from the blame). Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (TMQ, 12:53). Allah (SWT) also says what can be translated as, “And the king said, ‘Bring him to me that I may attach him to my person.’” (TMQ, 12:54). It is the same comment that the king (of Egypt) uttered before, but this time this sentence was added, “I may attach him to my person”. This is because Yusuf (AS) did not seek any fame and wealth. Therefore, Allah (SWT) rewarded him with high standing and the king highly respected him. One moral of the story is not to flatter your boss at work in order to gain an advantage. Instead you should behave naturally with dignity and good manners. Only then will you reach higher positions. Yusuf (AS) refused to get out of jail unless he was proven innocent. Hence, never use hypocrisy as a means to acquire higher positions.

“…that I may attach him to my person” means that Yusuf (AS) became the king’s right hand because he did not seek to flatter him. From now on, never flatter your professor by telling him that his unclear scribbling is some sort of planning for your future. Sometimes, we do not utter a falsehood, but we do it in one way or another. Take for example, you may say to your professor, “Life stops on the day you do not come,” while you know that you are lying!

We notice that some words and sentences are repeated throughout the Surah (chapter), “I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)”, “Bring him to me”, “wife”, “shirt” and “and I did seek to seduce him.” What is the reason behind such repetition? It is for impact. Unfortunately, films as well as TV series resort to one actor playing a major role to affect the viewers. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And they brought his shirt stained with false blood” (TMQ, 12:18), “And she tore his shirt from the back” (TMQ, 12:25) and “If it be that his shirt is torn from the back” (TMQ, 12:27). In these three ayahs, the word “shirt” is repeated in order to emphasize that it was the reason behind his imprisonment as well as the return of his father’s eyesight. Thus, true are the words, “We relate unto you (Muhammad) the best of stories.” (TMQ, 12:3).

You might watch an old movie in which a girl wears a red coat that attracts attention. The movie then ends with a scene of many dead and amongst them you see the red coat. This has an immense effect on the viewers. Can you imagine that this method is resorted to in the 20th century, while the Holy Qur’an used it 1,400 years ago?

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Then, when he spoke to him, he said, ‘Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.’” (TMQ, 12:54). We understand from this ayah that the king sensed eloquence and valiance in Yusuf (AS). “High in rank” means that Yusuf (AS) was given the authority to do whatever he wanted.

Allah (SWT) also says what can be translated as, “Yusuf said, ‘Set me over the store-houses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge (as a minister of finance in Egypt).’” (TMQ, 12:55). These are the characteristics of anyone whom you could trust with a business. Therefore, there are three essential characteristics man has to possess in order to succeed in his work: trustworthiness, integrity and knowledge. Trustworthiness and integrity mean the same thing in this context, so there are two characteristics the good person should possess: trustworthiness and knowledge. If you are looking for a good employee, a suitor for your daughter or a servant, choose a trustworthy and knowledgeable person. Such a person can manage his work and his life well.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “Thus did We give full authority to Yusuf in the land, to take possession therein, when or where he likes. We bestow of Our Mercy on whom We will, and We make not to be lost the reward of al-Muhsinun.” (TMQ, 12:56).

Think about the ups and downs in the life of Yusuf (AS). He was thrown into a narrow well, then sold into humiliating slavery and finally thrown in a narrow prison cell. At the end, he achieved steady progress and was given full authority throughout the Middle East. Who saved, released and gave Yusuf (AS) such authority? Indeed, the answer is Allah (SWT). The lesson we learn from this ayah is to have ultimate trust in Allah (SWT).

If we contemplate Surat Yusuf, we will find that he experienced a contradictory series of events, each one leading to the next. His father loved him very much (a good thing), but he was thrown into the well as a consequence of this love (an unfortunate event). The well brought him to the palace of al-Aziz (a good event) from where he was taken to prison (an unfortunate event). Finally, he got out of prison to become al-Aziz of Egypt.

If you are poor, cannot afford marriage or if you are weak, do not disobey your Lord or neglect your relation with Him out of desperation. Actually, everything in the universe belongs to Allah (SWT) alone (Glorified and Exalted be He). Therefore, seek His help, worship Him, pray to Him, and adhere to good manners. Undoubtedly, Allah (SWT) will then honor you as He honored Yusuf (AS).

This point in the story signals a turn of events; from now on, Yusuf (AS) would obtain high standing. His troubles were at an end. Nevertheless, a new temptation will begin: the temptation of worldly life. Yusuf's life then took a completely different turn. Suddenly, after being confined to a very small prison cell, he became in charge of all treasures. Will he stand firm against these worldly pleasures? There are people who stay pious as long as they are in need, but as soon as their situation changes they change too.

The companions of the Prophet (SAWS) used to say, “When we were afflicted with tribulations, we armed ourselves with patience. However, when we experienced prosperity, impatience ruled us.” Thus, the one who is in distress is blessed, for there is no fear on the poor. The ones prone to stray from the right path are those afflicted with a great deal of money and enjoy a high rank. This is because the temptations in adversity are apparent, whereas those of the worldly life and its abundance are hidden. We should learn that the endurance we need when we live in prosperity requires more strength and is more difficult to maintain than the endurance we need in adversity. Accordingly, one should not be sad when one is in adversity.

This clarifies the following Hadith, which the Prophet (SAWS) said on his deathbed.

Narrated by Amr Ibn-Auf al-Ansari, who was an ally of Bam Amr Ibn-Lu'ai and one of those who had taken part in the Battle of Badr), “Rejoice and hope for what will please you! By Allah (SWT), I am not afraid of your poverty but I am afraid that you will lead a life of luxury as past nations did, whereupon you will compete with each other for it, as they competed for it, and it will destroy you as it destroyed them.” [5]

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And verily, the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and used to fear Allah and keep their duty to Him (by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds and by performing all kinds of righteous good deeds).” (TMQ, 12:57). This is the last ayah we are going to recite in this episode. In the next episode, we will start from the following ayah in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And Yusuf’s brethren came and they entered unto him, and he recognized them, but they recognized him not.” (TMQ, 12:58). This took place after the end of the seven prosperous years and the passing of the first year or six months of the sterile years.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And Yusuf’s brethren came.” (TMQ, 12:58). This ayah marks the eloquence of the Holy Qur’an, as it sums up the eight years in one phrase. Their arrival meant that the dream came true and so did the plan for Egypt to export food to the whole world. What a magnificent ayah that asserts the utmost eloquence of the Holy Qur’an! It is also a great proof that Allah (SWT), Almighty, revealed the Holy Qur’an. Allah (SWT) is the Only One capable of summing up the events that took place in seven years in such a way, to prove that such events mentioned in the Holy Qur’an did take place.

Glory be to Allah (SWT)! The Holy Qur’an has to fill our hearts and never leave our minds. We have to trust in the Holy Qur’an and completely adhere to it.

In the next episode, we are going to talk about the development of Yusuf’s relation with his brothers until he meets his father. Until then, let us think about repentance and remember the meanings we have discussed.

[1] TMQ = Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah: Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed

[2] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

[3] Sahih at-targheeb.

[4] Sahih al-Albani and Sahih Muslim

[5] Sahih Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 53, Number 385.

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Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:43 AM

Yusuf (AS) – 8B

As we have previously mentioned in the last part, ayah 77 of Surat Yusuf, “They said if he steals, then there’s a brother of his who did steal before him. But Yusuf Kept these things locked in his heart and did not reveal to them. He said to himself you are the worst situated, and Allah knows of truth of what you assert.” (TMQ, 12:77)[1]. It is as if they are accusing their own family of stealing! Look at the clemency of Prophet Yusuf (AS), and how he kept it to himself and did not answer to their false accusation and did not even let his displeasure show on his face.

Then his remark to them that they are much worse, is as if he’s telling them that gossiping is a bigger crime than stealing, and that they are worse than that who they are accusing of stealing.

Please, try to protect your family ties and do not break them at all costs, because regardless of what they did, Prophet Yusuf (AS) could have lost his brothers, but he chose not to. Unfortunately, there are many of us who cut the ties with their siblings and families over materialistic matters; so let us learn from our Prophet Yusuf (AS)

I am asking you in front of Allah (SWT), if any of you has cut his connections with his family, parents, or siblings, please start by resolving the conflicts and work toward reconciliation. Yusuf’s brothers said what can be translated as, “O ruler of the land, our father is an elder so please take one of us instead; we behold you as one of kindness.” (TMQ, 12:78). They are now in a hard situation. How are they going to return to their father? Here comes the second lesson.

Yusuf (AS) said what can be translated as, “Allah forbid that we take other than him with whom we found our property with, indeed if we did so we will be wrong doers. So when they despaired of moving him, they conferred together apart. The eldest of them said: Didn’t you know that your father took an undertaking from you in Allah’s name and before when you have failed Yusuf? Therefore, I shall not go forth from the land until my father gives me the permission, or Allah judges it for me, and he’s the best of judges.” (TMQ, 12:79-80).

In this ayah, the word ‘despaired’ entails that they have tried with him many times, but without succeeding. They sat together to discuss the matter, and their eldest started reminding them how they took upon themselves that they will protect their brother, and that the same thing that happened in the past with Yusuf (AS) will not happen again. Moreover, he will not leave the land until his father gives him permission, or Allah (SWT) judges in the matter.

Note: who is their eldest? Is he the one that has advised them before not to kill Yusuf (AS) and throw him in the well instead? It is not our intention to discuss these issues. That is why you see me pass by many things without making a comment because our goal is to learn something beneficial. We have a rule in Islam: discussing topics or questions that do not lead to a practical benefit is not worth our while.

Then he told them what can be translated as, “Return to your father, and tell him: Oh father, your son has committed robbery, and we have only testified what we saw, and we are no guardians of the unseen” (TMQ, 12:80). As we see, their feeling of pain right now is real. Now look at the pain they are suffering, and compare this situation to the situation with Yusuf (AS) before when they said what can be translated as, “And we are his protectors” (when they threw Yusuf (AS) in the well). It is obvious that they had come to understand the real meaning of protection; that it is from Allah (SWT), and not from them.

Later, they said what can be translated as, “Ask the village that we have passed on, and the caravan which we have traveled with, and we declare that we are saying the truth” (TMQ, 12:82). They were trying to prove to their father their truthfulness by stating that he could ask the people of Egypt, and the group that traveled with them if he wanted to make sure that they were being honest. Compare this with what they said after what they had done with Yusuf (AS)! “And you will not believe us even if we are saying the truth.” (TMQ, 12:17). They are trying at all costs to prove to their father their truthfulness, but this time, they changed their words, “We are saying the truth.” Prophet Yaqub (AS) however, will not believe them immediately, so they can feel the pain even further. He said what can be translated as, “No, your minds have beguiled you into something, I’ll be patient, and Allah is the helper.” (TMQ, 12:83).

Look at how smart Prophet Yaqub (AS) is, and examine the immense trial that he was going through! He’s now loosing another of his sons after he lost his son Yusuf (AS) (the first was lost 40 years go, the second swore he won’t return until everything becomes clear, and the third is being kept as a slave). This is a message for every person with a dead child, please be patient and read Surat Yusuf. Scholars say that any sad person who reads Surat Yusuf must feel relief and comfort.

What kind of patience did Yaqub (AS) possess! Look at his courageous heart! Look at his strong belief in Allah (SWT), and his refusal to give up when he said what can be translated as, “I believe Allah will get them all back to me, he’s the highest and wisest.” (TMQ, 12:83). Then, “And he turned away and said: how great is my grief for Yusuf, and his eyes became white and full of sorrow that he was suppressing.” (TMQ, 12:84). Therefore, his eyes turned white from his excessive crying. Why did he say Yusuf (AS) and not Benjamin? Because when catastrophes start to gather, people will always remember the first one.

When the events of Kosovo occurred, one of the most respected scientists of al-Azhar started to cry and said, “Oh Palestine.” I asked him, “Why Palestine and not Kosovo?” He said, “It was the first catastrophe.” Is there any of us whose eyes became white because he was sad for what happened in Palestine? At least we should pray for them and feel their pain.

Yaqub’s sons asked him later, “They said, by Allah, you will never cease remembering Yusuf until your health is ruined or you are of those who perish.” (TMQ, 12:85). Meaning you will not forget about Yusuf (AS) even if you were near to death!

Look at his answer to them, “He said I expose my distress and anguish only to Allah, and I know from Allah what you do not know.” (TMQ, 12:86). Note: Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) was praying with the Muslims, he kept reading until he reached this ayah and started crying. The group asked him, “Why do you cry whenever you read this ayah?” He said, “I like to express my anguish and distress to Allah.”

Brothers and sisters, please report your sadness and your nation’s sadness to Allah (SWT). Look at the Prophet (SAWS[2]) when he was reporting his sadness to Allah (SWT) in the days of al-Taef. The entire town had thrown him with stones, then Zayd Ibn-Haretha came and hugged the Prophet (SAWS) trying to shield him from the stones, his head got soaked with blood! The Prophet (SAWS) at that time was 50 years old and was running so quickly that his feet got wounded and started to bleed heavily. I want you to imagine this happening to your father! He was trying to seek shelter in any place to avoid the stones, so he entered a garden and raised his hands to Allah (SWT) praying and said, “O Allah, to Thee I declare my weakness and lack of strength. To Thee I would show the grief I have been going through due to the contempt I have received from others. O Allah, You are the Most Merciful of all. You are the Lord of the oppressed. And you are my Lord. To whom are You entrusting me, to a stranger who would maltreat me, or to a foe who would take hold of me! O Lord, if You are not angry with me, then I do not mind being hurt. What I am looking forward to is Your Providence. I seek refuge in the light of Your Blessed Face Which has lighted all darkness, and rendered worldly life and the hereafter virtuous, from Your anger or discontent. You can keep admonishing me until You are pleased with me, there is no might save in You.” Let us make it a habit that we always report our sadness to Allah (SWT)!

Furthermore, Prophet Yaqub (AS) said what can be translated as, “O my sons, go and inquire about Yužsuf and his brother, and do not despair of relief from Allah; surely none despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” (TMQ, 12:87).

Brothers and sisters, please do not give up hope on Allah (SWT). The future will be for this religion for sure. The whole world is suffering, and people are trying to become religious, because people are hungry for religion just like they are hungry for food. They need to satisfy their souls. Your trust in Allah (SWT) should always be high, so please do any act that helps the others. Help your siblings, succeed in your academic or scientific life, teach people Qur’an, and do anything beneficial for your country.

I know about someone who used to hear about the news in Palestine and what’s happening over there. Coincidentally, he met a Palestinian and asked him, “Didn’t you give up yet? Don’t you see that deaths are increasing day after day?” The Palestinian answered, “Never. Every house that has not given a martyr for the sake of Palestine feels ashamed.”

What we need to do is much less than what they have to. We are not asked to give our souls, but we need to try and correct ourselves, and those around us, and to succeed in our lives. We need to rebuild our countries, to improve our economy, to increase our productivity and to encourage people to become closer to Allah (SWT).

What happened later was that Yusuf brothers went back to Egypt, just as mentioned in this ayah that can be translated as, “And when they went back to him (Yusuf) they said, O exalted one, distress has seized us and our family, and we have brought you a scanty merchandise, so pay us full measure and treat it as charity to us, for Allah rewards the charitable.” (TMQ, 12:88).

Arabic usage of ‘and when’ again denotes speed. They didn’t have good merchandise so they brought bad merchandise. They needed food first, and then their father asked them to search for their brothers, and that was also one of lessons that Prophet Yusuf (AS) wanted to teach them. They were going back and forth to Egypt, and they were in psychological pain; they were weak, desperate, and needy. This idea is obvious because they called Yusuf (AS), “O exalted one,” and they had to explain to him what they have been through, and finally ask him for charity.

One of the Muslim scholars said, “Humble yourself between the hands of Allah (SWT) like Yusuf’s brothers humbled themselves in the presence of Yusuf.” One has to beg Allah (SWT) the same way they begged Yusuf (AS). Hold your hands up to the sky and say: Allah (SWT), I have suffered so much, I’ve brought you scanty merchandise (our defected worship), so pay us full measure and accept it as a charity for us.

Another scientist said, “Do not get tired from standing on Allah’s door, even if you felt unwelcome (for example, you are praying but you do not feel the closeness, don’t worry, it’ll come.) Do not stop apologizing even if you were turned down. When the door opens for those who are accepted, then enter with them as and intruder, and raise your hands up and say, 'Please Allah, I’m poor so help me, charity is for the poor and needy.’” Allah (SWT) loves the slave who humbles himself between His hands. This ayah is reminding us of all that. Whenever I hear this ayah and see the extent of humility and need it is displaying, I remember how we stand with Allah (SWT), and how much we need to stand in humility and submissiveness just like they did. Prophet Yusuf (AS) could not bear to see his brothers humiliated and weak. Where is mercy these days? Unfortunately, there are people who enjoy seeing others humiliated. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said, “The believer is easy, soft and facile.” Thus, try to be merciful and sincere toward one another, also try to forgive and facilitate.

At this point he said what can be translated as, "(Yusuf said,) do you know what you did with Yusuf and his brother, when you were ignorant?" (TMQ 12:89). Notice the use of ‘ignorant’ instead of ‘unjust!’ Indeed, this tells us a great deal about Yusuf’s good traits. Notice how he breaks the news to them: does he make a loud fuss or takes the chance to blame and shame them? Certainly not; it is a soft and gentle questioning to his brothers, filled with compassion. Indeed, an amazing display of modesty and good ethics. What was their reaction? They were shocked of course! They said what can be translated as, "They said, 'Are you indeed Yusuf?' He said, 'I am Yusuf and this is my brother (Benjamin). Allah has indeed been gracious to us. Verily, he who fears Allah with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, Allah makes not the reward of al-Muhsinun (good-doers).’" (TMQ 12:90).

Prophet Yusuf (AS) does not blame his brothers as they were taught a good lesson after all what had happened. Look at the word ‘al-muhsinun’ which also indicates the law that states dependence upon Allah (SWT), "But Allah is the Best to guard" (TMQ 12:64). People who are patient through hardships suffer from injustice and still are patient; a wife may suffer from an unjust husband and still endure patiently, or a brother may suffer from his brother's injustice. Whoever fears Allah (SWT) and is patient, will be loved by Allah (SWT); Allah (SWT) loves ‘al-muhsinun.’

Finally, Prophet Yusuf's brothers realize their mistake and say, what can be translated as, "They said, “By Allah! Indeed Allah has preferred you above us, and we certainly have been sinners." (TMQ 12:91). This indicates that Prophet Yusuf's plan had worked as well as many other plans such as the economic reform plan, selves-reform plan and also the story of his steadfastness.

Yusuf (AS) is happy now that his brothers have found the right path; he succeeded with them just as he succeeded with everything so far. This is one of the best stories ever, because it has so many happy endings. Here are Yusuf’s success stories:

· The wife of al-Aziz repented.

· The women who cut their hands also repented.

· The king's butler was saved.

· Yusuf (AS) became influential in the country.

· The whole region survived the famine.

· His brothers repented.

· Prophet Yaqub's children all came back to him.

Yusuf (AS) passed all the tests. Please remember that this is not just a story to be told; Yusuf (AS) was for real. He is a human example for us; a true Prophet! Let us get along with the ayahs now. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "(Yusuf says,) No reproach on you today; may Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!" (TMQ 12:92).

Truly, he has great manners and was most forgiving and kind towards his brothers, he forgave his brothers without any grudges for what they had done to him in the past. If only we follow the example of Prophet Yusuf (AS) and hold no personal grudges! What a marvelous religion and what a great book to follow!

This ayah reminds me of Abu-Sufyan, one of the greatest enemies of Islam. He fought against Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) for eight consecutive years, leading the Battles of Uhud and al-Khandaq. When Makkah was freed, al-Abbas told Abu-Sufyan to go to Prophet (SAWS) and ask for forgiveness and pardon, but Abu-Sufyan feared that the Prophet (SAWS) would kill him. Al-Abbas told him to say that same ayah to Muhammad (SAWS), "They said, ‘By Allah! Indeed Allah has preferred you above us, and we certainly have been sinners.’" (TMQ 12:91). The Prophet (SAWS) forgot any anger and quoted back what can be translated as, "No reproach on you today; may Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!" (TMQ 12:92)

Now let us go back to the ayahs and the story of Yusuf (AS). Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "(Yusuf said,) go with this shirt of mine, and cast it over the face of my father, he will become clear-sighted, and bring me all your family. And when the caravan departed, their father said: I do indeed feel the smell of Yusuf, if only you think me not a dotard (a person who has weakness of mind because of old age)." (TMQ, 12:93-94). What is the story of this shirt that is mentioned frequently in the Surah and is it the same shirt mentioned at the beginning of the story? It is a symbol but we are not sure if it is the same one or not.

"And when the caravan departed, their father said: I do indeed feel the smell of Yusuf (Joseph), if only you think me not a dotard (a person who has weakness of mind because of old age)." (TMQ 12:94). How did Yaqub (AS) know that it was Yusuf's shirt? A father’s instinct? Isn’t it the mother’s instinct that wakes her up in the middle of the night to go and cover her child? Yaqub's feelings are common to all of us. This is a message for both the parents and the children out there. Love each other, and do not lose the family bonds that you have. Parents should show their love to their children, or they will regret it later on. Some parents do not even hug their children any more or use any sweet talk. Why is this happening in our society? Why are the kids growing up and forgetting their parents? Why do we forget our parents after we have children of our own? Shouldn’t we try to give our kids the best childhood ever, and treat our parents the way we would like our children to treat us in the future? Don’t stay away from them lest they start feeling sad like Yaqub (AS). Call them, visit them, and take some small gifts along with you.

The next ayah can be translated as, "They said, 'By Allah! Certainly, you are in your old error.'" (TMQ 12:95). The following ayah, "Then, when the bearer of the glad tidings arrived, he cast it (the shirt) over his face, and he became clear-sighted. He said, ‘Did I not say to you, ‘I know from Allâh that which you know not.’" (TMQ 12:96). Then, his brothers admit their mistake in what can be translated as, "They said, 'O our father! Ask Forgiveness (from Allah) for our sins, indeed we have been sinners.'" (TMQ 12:97).

Scholars say that in the following ayah, translated as, " He said, 'I will ask my Lord for forgiveness for you, verily He! Only He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.’" (TMQ 12:98), Yaqub (AS) was either still sad for what they had done or was waiting for the time before daybreak; Qiyam (vigil night prayer) to ask Allah (SWT) to forgive his sons (since what they had done needs a great deal of asking forgiveness).

In the next ayah, we are moved again quickly in time to the scene where Yusuf (AS) finally meets his father. The beautiful Arabic language of the Qur’an moves the reader ever so swiftly between the scenes. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Then, when they came in before Yusuf (Joseph), he took his parents to himself and said, ‘Enter Egypt, if Allah wills, in security.’" (TMQ 12:99). The Arabic word translated as ‘took his parents to himself’ or ‘embraced them’ describes beautifully the affections and love in that rejoicing hug and reunion, which followed 40 years of separation and grief. It is a feeling of relief and victory, filling the reader once more with joy, because Allah (SWT) indeed never forgets the good people.

The following ayah can be translated as, "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 aforetime! My Lord has made it come true!’" (TMQ 12:100). As the Surah began with Yusuf’s dream, it ended with it coming true. Any good act we perform will be rewarded by Allah (SWT), but we just have to be patient enough to wait for it. As we said earlier, these stories are narrated by Allah (SWT) in the Qur’an for a reason! Everything that we do is rewarded by Allah (SWT), and those who are patient will be rewarded for their patience. Allah (SWT) is telling us that no matter how many problems and afflictions we face, we will be rewarded eventually only if we are devout, patient and dependent upon Him alone. If you guard what Allah (SWT) orders you to guard, He will guard you.

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "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 aforetime! My Lord has made it come true! He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of the prison, and brought you (all here) out of the Bedouin-life, after Shaitân (Satan) had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He wills. Truly He! Only He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.’" (TMQ 12:100). Prophet Yusuf (AS) chose his words wisely when he said that Allah (SWT) was kind unto him when he took him out of the prison instead of mentioning the incident of the well. He did not want to hurt his brothers' feelings during their nice reunion, although he suffered more in the well than in prison. In addition, he said that Allah (SWT) had brought them out of their Bedouin-life and did not say out of poverty or famine so as not to remind them of the difficult situation that compelled them to come to Egypt. If only we choose our words so carefully, especially women who are supposed to be tender and gentle! Omar Ibnul-Khattab (RA) said, “By Allah, I do not love anything in this world more than sitting with people who pick their words as carefully as they pick good fruits.”

Let us look at the rest of the ayah where Yusuf (AS) was feeling guilty and did not blame his brothers entirely for what had happened saying that the Shaytan (Satan) had sown enmity amidst him and his brothers. All this shows his good morals and virtue knowing that he really was not responsible for anything. He is also content with what Allah (SWT) had destined his life to be, as we see at the end of this ayah. Then, Yusuf (AS) says in absolute submission and humility in front of Allah (SWT), the following ayah which can be translated as, "My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me something of the interpretation of dreams - the (Only) Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Walî (Protector, Helper, Supporter, Guardian, God, Lord.) in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die as a Muslim (the one submitting to Your Will), and join me with the righteous." (TMQ 12:101).

Notice Yusuf's submissiveness to Allah (SWT). Notice his devoutness, and dependence on Allah (SWT) the One and Only. He wishes to follow the example of the other Prophets (his ancestors) and join them in the hereafter. After you have read this Surah, do you truly believe that your only Protector is Allah (SWT)? Has your love and trust in Allah (SWT) increased? Whoever reads this Surah and still does not gain trust in Allah (SWT) has never truly read it.

The final ayahs, 102 to 111, all incite patience, and promise final victory to the Muslims, even if it comes after a long wait. Allah (SWT) sends victory to His messengers when they start to lose hope, and this is exactly what happened to Prophet Yusuf (AS). Finally, there is a message near the end of the Surah about the importance of passing out the message of Islam to other people, and caring about the benefit of others. Islam is good news, so be the bearers of it. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Say (O Muhammad), ‘This is my way; I invite unto Allah (i.e. to the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism) with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allah (i.e. to the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism with sure knowledge). And Glorified and Exalted be Allah (above all that they associate as partners with Him). And I am not of Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah; those who worship others along with Allah or set up rivals or partners to Allah).’" (TMQ 12:108).

[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur'an. This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah: Ayah) of the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of the Qur'an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.

[2] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

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#16 Afzalsheikh



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Posted 10 August 2017 - 07:44 AM

Prophet Yusuf (A) was the son of Prophet Ya'qub (A). In the Bible he is referred to as Joseph son of Jacob. The Holy Qur'an has mentioned his story in a beautiful chapter entitled "Surah Yusuf". Prophet Yusuf (A) had 11 brothers. He was one of the youngest and possessed excellent character and manners. His father loved him dearly.