Prophet Yusuf [Joseph] (Peace be upon him)
Yusuf's brothers said to him, "By Allah! indeed has Allah preferred thee above us, and we certainly have been guilty of sin!"
He said: "This day let no reproach be (cast) on you: Allah will forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!" (Yusuf 91-92)
THE PROPHET YAQUB AND HIS SONS
Allah sent Hz. Yaqub (Jacob), the son of Hz. Ishaq (Isaac) as a prophet to the region of Kanan, which included Palestine, Jordan and Madyan.
Hz. Yaqub had 12 sons. These children were called Yahuda, Rubin, Shamun, Lawi, Yashuha, Zabulun, Zawana, Taftuna, Kawza, Ushir, Yusuf and Bunyamin, Yahuda being the oldest and Bunyamin the youngest in order.1 The youngest ones of these 12 children were Yusuf (Joseph) and Bunyamin (Benjamin).
The nickname of Hz. Yaqub was Israel.2 Therefore, his children were called Banu Israel (Children of Israel). The generation known as Children of Israel in history comes from these 12 children of Hz. Yaqub. The clan of each of these children was called sibt (grandchild); as a whole, they were called asbat (grandchildren). This term is used in many places in the Quran.3
The mother of Yusuf and Bunyamin was different from the other children of Yaqub. Therefore, Yusuf and Bunyamin were full brothers but the others were their half brothers.4
THE STOLEN BELT
The mother of Yusuf and Bunyamin died when they were very young. After her death, Yusuf was brought up by his paternal aunt. His aunt loved Yusuf very much. In fact, it was impossible not to love Yusuf once you saw him. He was a cute and lovely child. The heart of the person who saw him filled with compassion and love.
His aunt looked after Yusuf very carefully. She felt worried that his father would take Yusuf back when he grew up.
As a matter of fact, after a while, Hz. Yaqub demanded his son back. Yusuf's aunt felt very sorry. She looked for a way of keeping Yusuf for one more year. In the end, she made a plan to retain him:
Hz. Yaqub had a silver sword that he had inherited from his grandfather, Hz. Ibrahim (Abraham). Hz. Yaqub had given this belt to Yusuf's aunt to keep it.
According to the religion of Hz. Yaqub, the punishment for theft was as follows: A thief had to work as a servant of the person whose thing he stole for a year.
Yusuf's aunt wrapped Hz. Yaqub's belt around Yusuf's waist. She made him wear a garment. Then, she sent Yusuf out. After that, she declared that the belt was lost and said that it might have been stolen.
Everybody took action in order to find the sword. Finally, they found the sword around Yusuf's waist. In that case, Yusuf was regarded to have stolen the belt of his aunt. According to the religion of Hz. Yaqub, he had to serve his aunt for a year.
Hz. Yaqub liked this clever plan of his sister's. He understood that she loved Yusuf very much and that she wanted to keep him for one more year. Therefore, he agreed to let him stay with his aunt for one more year.5
Hz. Yaqub took care of Yusuf and Bunyamin more than his other children and showed them more compassion because their mother was dead.
Hz. Yusuf was a very nice child physically and spiritually. It was clear that he would have a bright future. This property of Yusuf's made Hz. Yaqub love him and take care of him more.
However, this interest of Hz. Yaqub in Yusuf and Bunyamin disturbed his other children. In fact, Hz. Yaqub loved his other children too. He fulfilled his duty of fatherhood about them without delay.6 He did not treat any of them badly. However, he could not help having a different love for Yusuf and his brother. He could not prevent it. Yusuf's other brothers were not happy about it. They were jealous of their father's love and compassion toward Yusuf and Bunyamin.
Hz. Yaqub, was aware of this situation.
When Hz. Yusuf was about 12 years old, he saw a strange dream. When he woke up, he ran to his father and told him about his dream in excitement:
"O my father! I did see eleven stars, the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me..."7
Hz. Yaqub thought for a while. He understood that what he felt about Yusuf was right. Allah was going to give him great bounties both in the world hereafter; Allah was going to make his fame and honor spread to the whole world.
Hz. Yaqub whispered to Yusuf:
"My dear little son! Do not tell your vision to your brothers, lest they concoct a plot against thee: for Satan is to man an avowed enemy.
O my son! Your dream is a true dream. Allah will choose you among people and will appoint you as a prophet. Allah will give you great property, wealth and sultanate; He will teach you how to interpret dreams (or the secrets and subtleties of the holy books).8,9
Hz. Yaqub, interpreted the eleven stars as his sons the sun as himself and the moon as his wife.10 This showed that the rank of Hz. Yusuf would be superior to that of theirs.
Interpretation of dreams was in a very advanced level in Hz. Yaqub 's nation. Yusuf's brothers were also aware of interpreting dreams. If they had heard about his dream, they would have interpreted it easily. They would not have accepted it if they had found out that Yusuf would be superior to them. Therefore, Hz. Yaqub warned Yusuf not to tell his brothers about his dream.
THE TERRIBLE DECISION
The jealousy Hz. Yaqub's sons of Yusuf and Bunyamin increased day by day. Being half brothers strengthened this feeling.
Eventually, they came together one day and started to talk about the issue. Their faces were tense with fury. Their hands were trembling and they were clenching their fists. One of them could not stop any longer and shouted,
"Our father likes Yusuf and his brother more than us."
Another one said,
"In fact, we do all of our father's tasks. We are strong and in majority.
We deserve love more than Yusuf and his brother."
The third brother spoke angrily:
"What is our father doing? Instead of loving us more, he loves Yusuf and Bunyamin, who are little and cannot do anything."
The fourth brother approved him:
"Our father definitely treats us unjustly. This is an obvious mistake."
The fifth brother made a suggestion:
"What are we waiting for? What will we get if we go on talking like that? I think we have two options:
We should either kill Yusuf and bury him or take him to a distant place and leave him there. He will not be able to come home from that place and he will die there. After that, our father will love us more."11
This suggestion sounded good to them. They could not think of anything else to attain the love of their father. However, this suggestion made them shiver. One of them asked, "Would it not be a sin?"
Shamun, who had made the suggestion, answered:
"After eliminating Yusuf, we will repent together. Our Lord will forgive us; He is merciful. We will be like clean, righteous people who have not committed any sins."12
Yahuda, the oldest son of Hz. Yaqub, was listening to them carefully. When he realized that his brothers intended to kill Yusuf, he could not help saying,
"No. Do not think of killing Yusuf. Killing a person is a murder and a major sin. If we murder him, Allah will never forgive us.
The best thing to do is to throw him down to the bottom of a well: he will be picked up by some travellers."13
This idea sounded better to them. They agreed. They decided to throw Yusuf down to the bottom of a well in a distant place and return.
GIVE YUSUF TO US
The Prophet Yaqub felt that his sons had bad intentions about Yusuf. Therefore, he took more care of Yusuf. He never allowed Yusuf to be away from him.
It was very difficult for Yusuf's brothers to take Yusuf away from his father.
The ten brothers talked and decided what to do. They made a plan to take Yusuf. They went to Hz. Yaqub and said,
"O Dad! Why do you not leave Yusuf even for a second? He is our brother. Let him play with us."14
Hz. Yaqub answered:
"I cannot leave him with you. I cannot bear being away from him even for an hour. Let him stay with me."
His sons were determined to take Yusuf from Hz. Yaqub. They said,
"This attitude of yours makes us sad. Why do you not trust us? What did we do to Yusuf? Our poor brother seems to be in a kind of prison. He needs to laugh, be happy and play. Please let Yusuf come with us. Let him walk around and play as he wishes."
Hz. Yaqub fell into a difficult position when he heard these words from his sons. He could not oppose them since they did not express their evil intentions. However, he did not want to let Yusuf go with them. Suddenly, he remembered the dream that he had recently seen. A wolf was attacking Yusuf in his dream.15 Hz. Yaqub used this dream as an excuse to avoid sending Yusuf with them:
"I fear that you will leave Yusuf somewhere while playing and a wolf will eat him as I saw in my dream. Therefore, you had better not take him with you."16
Hz. Yaqub's sons objected to this view of his. They said,
"O Dad! How can a wolf approach us while there are so many of us? Do not worry. We have fulfilled all of our duties up to now. How can you think that we cannot protect Yusuf?"17
Upon the insistence of his sons, Hz. Yaqub allowed to let Yusuf go with them. He said,
"All right! You can take him but be very careful."
When the ten brothers left their father, they were very happy. They got what they demanded.
By mentioning the danger of wolf, Hz. Yaqub helped his children. They found an excuse that will help them fulfill their evil intention.
Man should be careful about these issues in his social life. For, if a person makes his opponents feel what his fears and weaknesses are, he will pave the way for them to attack him through those weaknesses. After taking necessary measures, man needs to trust in Allah; he should not make cruel people feel what his weaknesses are and should not be afraid of them.
The Prophet states the following regarding the issue:
"Do not give any evidence to people that they can use against you. Yaqub's sons did not think that a wolf could eat a human being but when he said, 'I fear that a wolf will eat Yusuf', they used this statement as an excuse. After throwing Yusuf down into a well, they said, 'A wolf ate Yusuf.'"18
HZ. YUSUF IS THROWN DOWN INTO A WELL
Hz. Yaqub could not object when his sons insisted and agreed unwillingly to let Yusuf go with his brothers.
The next day, the ten brothers went out of the city with Yusuf. They walked in the countryside, played and picked flowers. They were far away from their house.
When they approached the well in Kanan, into which they were thinking of throwing Yusuf, their attitude toward Yusuf changed. Their faces fell. They started to insult Yusuf with hatred and jealousy.
Yusuf understood the intention of his brothers. He begged them and asked them to fear Allah; he asked them not to do anything bad to him.
His brothers pushed Yusuf toward the well. First, they took off his shirt. Then, they wrapped a rope around his waist and put him into the well. Suddenly Yusuf found himself in a well with little water. He grasped the projections on the wall of the well. Thus, he saved himself from being drowned.19
He was nervous and worried. What was going to happen? How was he going to get out of this place?
Meanwhile, Jibril (Gabriel) arrived. He conveyed the following revelation in order to lessen his worry:
"O Yusuf! Do not worry! You are going to be saved and remind your brothers about this bad deed they did to you in the future. They are not going to know you then."20
Upon this revelation, Hz. Yusuf calmed down. He had no fear. He knew that Allah was going to save him. He started to wait patiently for his fate.
After throwing Yusuf into the well, his brothers slaughtered a lamb. They spread some of the blood of the lamb on Yusuf's shirt.21 They wanted their father to believe that a wolf had eaten Yusuf.
In the evening, the ten brothers returned home with a bloody shirt. They went to the presence of their father by whining.22
When Hz. Yaqub saw them, he realized that something bad had happened. He asked,
"What happened? Why are you crying? Where is Yusuf?"
They answered altogether:
"We were racing. We left Yusuf to look after our possessions. When we returned, we saw a wolf eating him."23
Their father did not believe them. He said,
"You are lying." They said,
"We knew you were going to speak like that. Here is Yusuf's bloody shirt.”
Hz. Yaqub held Yusuf's shirt. He looked at it and checked it. He sniffed it with compassion. The shirt had blood on it but there was no trace of teeth. He thought, “It is very strange; the wolf ate my son but it did not tear his shirt.”24 It was obvious that his sons had done something bad to Yusuf. He did not know what to do. He turned to his children and said,
"Yusuf was not eaten by a wolf. You did something bad to him. You obeyed your souls. You were deceived by Satan.
What I need to do from now on is to show patience and to accept Allah's decree.”25
Hz. Yaqub's sons felt relieved after this statement of their father's. Hz. Yaqub did not believe what they said but he had nothing else to do. Thus, they achieved their goal by separating Yusuf from his father.
In fact, Hz. Yaqub had some hope that Yusuf was alive. As it was understood from the dream Yusuf had that there was a bright future for Yusuf.
What made him said was to be away from Yusuf and not to know where he was and what he was doing.
Yusuf waited patiently and hopefully for three days at the bottom of the well.26 At last, a caravan coming from Damascus and going to Egypt stopped for a while near the well of Kanan.
Somebody from the caravan came to the well in order to draw some water. He released the bucket and tried to get water. However, he could not pull the bucket up. The bucket seemed to be stuck. He looked inside the wall curiously but he could not see anything because it was dark. Suddenly, he heard a voice. Yusuf held the rope and shouted: “Take me out of here.”
The man pulled the rope hard. He started to pull it up slowly. He was very excited.
Suddenly, he saw a child with a bright face like the moon holding the rope of the bucket. He was astonished. Soon, he calmed down; he went to the caravan with the bucket full of water taking Yusuf with him.27 He shouted to his friends happily:
"Good news, my friends! I found a very handsome boy in the well. We can sell him in Egypt.”
Meanwhile, Yusuf brothers arrived there; they wanted to find out what had happened to Yusuf. When they saw him with the people of the caravan, they approached. They said Yusuf was a slave who had run away. They said they could sell him for a reasonable price if they wanted to buy him.
The people of the caravan did not want to pay any money for Yusuf. They understood that his brothers wanted to get rid of him. Therefore, they said they did not need a slave. They wanted to buy it at a very low price.
His brothers started to decrease the price and finally they sold him for very little money.28
Yusuf was watching what was happening patiently and by trusting Allah; he did not speak at all. Besides, even if he spoke, he knew that nobody would listen to him and heed what he would say. Therefore, he did not say anything about the words of his brothers.
After buying Yusuf, the people of the caravan left that place. They arrived in Egypt after a journey that lasted several days.
At that time, Egypt had been under the dominations of Amaliqas for a long time.
A tribe known as Hyksos came to Egypt from Yemen; they ended the domination of the Pharaohs, who were Copts.(*) Their kings were called Maliks. After ruling Egypt for 400 years, the domination was captured by Copts again. The kings of Copts were called the Pharaohs.
When Hz. Yusuf arrived in Egypt, the ruler was a king called Rayyan bin Walid. He was a just and authoritarian king.
In the Egyptian administration, the second person with authority after the king was the Aziz of Egypt. He was the equivalent of the prime minister today. He was also in charge of the Treasury.
Rayyan, the King of Egypt, appointed a person called Qitfir as his Aziz (prime minister). Qitfir was a shrewd person and a good administrator. He was clever and sagacious.29 He was married to Zulaykha, a beautiful woman from the family of the king.30 This marriage increased his closeness with the king.
Qitfir and Zulaykha did not have any children. They lost the hope of having children. They decided to adopt a child.
At that time, slave trade was common in Egypt like anywhere else in the world.
There was a big market where only slaves were sold and bought. The slaves brought from various countries and cities were sold there.
The people of the caravan that brought Yusuf to Egypt also went to this market. They offered Yusuf for sale.
THE AZIZ OF EGYPT BUYS HZ. YUSUF
Qitfir, the Aziz of Egypt, went to the slave market in order to buy a good slave. While he was wandering, he came to the place where Yusuf was on sale.
As soon as he saw Yusuf, he became very happy. It looked as if he found what he had been looking for. With his foresight, he felt that Yusuf had a hidden potential and talents. He said to himself, "A very nice boy!" He asked his price. Then, he bought Yusuf.
The Aziz of Egypt regarded Yusuf as a son rather than a servant. He and his wife had wanted to adopt a child for a long time. It was possible for Yusuf to meet this need. They could have the love of a child thanks to him.
When he returned home, he gave the good news to his wife:
"Look at this child carefully. He looks like a clever child. I hope he will be a good help for housework. We may also adopt him as a child later.”
His wife loved Yusuf as soon as she saw him. She loved him compassionately. She dressed him up in nice clothes. When Yusuf had a bath and put on new clothes, his beauty became obvious. When Qitfir and Zulaykha saw him, their love increased. They started to look after him and bring him up as if he was their own son.
It is reported that Ibn Mas’ud said, “There are three people that are famous for their foresight: The first one is the Aziz of Egypt, who noticed the potential in Hz. Yusuf when he saw him and advised his wife to look after him very well. The second one is Hz. Shuayb's daughter, who noticed the characteristics of Hz. Musa (Moses) when she saw him and asked her father to employ him. She said that the best wage for Hz. Musa in return for his work was marrying him. The third one is Hz. Abu Bakr, who was aware of the characteristics of Hz. Umar and advised people to choose him as the Caliph after his death.”31
As years passed, Yusuf grew up and became a handsome young man. Everybody loved him due to his high ethics and good manners. His physical beauty also attracted people's attention and caused people to admire him.
Yusuf's growing up and flourishing confounded Zulaykha. She could not see him as her son any more. She fell in love with him. She started to be jealous of him.
Yusuf was unaware of Zulaykha's feelings about him. He felt gratitude toward the Aziz of Egypt and his wife due to the favors they did to him and their favorable attitudes.
Zulaykha’s love to Yusuf increased day by day. Passion started to fill her body. She did not want to be away from him even for a moment. It became impossible for Zulaykha to control her will and feelings.
She was looking for an occasion to tell Yusuf about her feelings.
“CAN THERE BE SUCH A BETRAYAL?”
One day, there was nobody else at home. Zulaykha used it as an opportunity. She locked all the doors from inside. She put on her nicest clothes and perfume. She entered the room where Yusuf was staying. She locked the door from inside and started to talk to Yusuf. She said she fell head over heels in love with him. She asked him to accept her love.32 She added that there was nobody else in the palace and that nobody could see them.
Yusuf was astonished when he heard what she said. He never realized he was going to be asked something like that.
In fact, Zulaykha was a beautiful woman but Yusuf never looked at her like that. He loved her but it was like love felt toward one's sister or mother.
He was surprised by her statement that nobody could see them. Was God Almighty, who was everywhere all the time and who saw and knew everything, not going to see them even if people did not see them?
Therefore, she answered Zulaykha as follows:
"Allah forbid! Your husband is my master. I love him as if he is my father. I have been staying in his palace for years; I have been eating his food. How can I betray him in return for his favors?"
With his words, Yusuf reminded Zulaykha the honorable position she had. He himself was a slave bought from the slave market. It was a shame for Zulaykha to ask the love of Yusuf.
However, these words did not affect Zulaykha at all. She made her decision. She intended to have Yusuf whether it was a shame or not. She started to behave coquettishly and utter attractive words in order to seduce him.
THE MOST TERRIBLE MOMENT OF THE TEST
When Zulaykha saw that Yusuf did not give her a positive answer and did not want to approach her, she approached him. Hz. Yusuf experienced the most terrible moments of the test. Everything was against him. He was in such a position that everything was forcing him to commit a sin: Zulaykha with all of her attractiveness, his soul and Satan with all of their tricks and plans, his human feelings with all of their heat. It was very difficult for a normal person to avoid committing a sin in such a situation.
A human inclination, which was away from practice and which did not necessitate responsibility was about to come to Yusuf when God Almighty helped him. Suddenly, he saw the image of his father, who was in Kanan. Yusuf got rid of the situation he was in all of a sudden.33 He came to his senses. He felt the evil of the offer made by Zulaykha in his spirit. He had nothing to do but to feel ashamed and to run away in order to get rid of this difficult position.
He ran toward the door. Zulaykha went crazy when Yusuf did so. She ran after him. She caught him by his shirt and pulled him toward her. The shirt was torn from one end to the other. Meanwhile, Yusuf forced the door of the room open and left the room.
He suddenly saw Qitfir, his master, and Zulaykha’s uncle. He was astounded. He turned red from embarrassment. Qitfir and Zulaykha’s uncle could not believe their eyes.
THE TRICK OF THE WOMAN
Zulaykha was astonished by the unexpected appearance of her uncle and husband. However, she quickly overcame her astonishment. She pulled herself together and assumed an innocent attitude. She said to her husband with a voice expressing fury and sadness,
"Why are you standing like that? Yusuf wanted to harass me. Put him in prison or give him a severe punishment.”34
Zulaykha was guilty but she tried to look strong. She assumed the image of an innocent woman who was harassed. She did not feel ashamed of what she had done; contrarily, she started to accuse Yusuf. Yusuf blushed as he thought the incident; he did not want to think about it. However, he had to defend himself due to Zulaykha’s accusation. Otherwise, Qitfir might have thought that he was disloyal. He might have felt disappointed thinking that Yusuf did not deserve the trust and love he felt about Yusuf.
With this thought in mind, Yusuf said to Qitfir,
"No. On the contrary, she tried to harass me. I ran away from her. She ran after me to catch me and tore my shirt. And I left the room.”35
Qitfir was confused. He did not know whom to believe: his beloved wife, whom he had been married for years or Yusuf, whom he liked as if he was his son and whose high ethics and good manners he liked? He could not decide.
While Qitfir was hesitant, Zulaykha's uncle spoke. He suggested the definite way of distinguishing between the guilty one and the innocent one:
"If Yusuf’s shirt is rent from the front, Zulaykha is telling the truth and Yusuf is a liar. If the shirt is torn from the back, Zulaykha is the liar, not Yusuf.”36
Qitfir liked this idea. It was going to shed light on the issue.
They looked at Yusuf’s shirt carefully.
The shirt was torn from the back. In that case, Yusuf was right; Zulaykha was a liar. When the issue became clear, her uncle turned to Zulaykha and scolded her:
"What you did is terrible. Your trick is very bad. Repent for what you did at once.”37 Then, he turned to Yusuf and said,
"Yusuf! It is clear that you are innocent but do not tell anyone about what happened. Keep it a secret. The honor of the family is in question.”38
Yusuf promised that he was not going to tell anybody about the incident. Thus, they settled the issue.
HOW DID THE EGYPTIAN WOMEN CUT THEIR HANDS?
They tried to keep the incident between Zulaykha and Hz. Yusuf as a secret but they could not prevent it from being heard. Rumors increased. Egyptian women and girls started to talk about Aziz's wife and Yusuf all the time. The women living in the palace also heard about the incident. Zulaykha was reproached for what he had done; they thought she brought shame and dishonor on the palace.
"Aziz’s wife fell in love with a slave called Yusuf. What a disgraceful thing! It seems Zulaykha went astray.”39
Zulaykha became very sorry when she heard people gossiping about her. She wanted to end those gossips and rumors. She thought of a plan.
She decided to give a feast in the palace.
She also invited about forty women who were gossiping about her to the feast.
The women accepted the invitation and came to the palace. After dinner, they started to sit on the chairs and armchairs in the hall, talking to one another. Meanwhile, the maids gave each woman a plate with apples, pomegranates, etc. They also put a sharp knife on each plate.40
Meanwhile, Zulaykha made Yusuf put on his best clothes, which made him more handsome. While the women were peeling the fruit, she asked Yusuf to enter the hall.
Yusuf left his room and entered the hall. Everybody looked at him.
The women who saw Yusuf were fascinated by his handsomeness and cuteness. They thought, "How can a person be so handsome?"
They cut their hands instead of the fruit but they did not feel any pains. They seemed to have lost consciousness.41
They said, to one another, “No. This cannot be a human being. He can only be an honorable angel. Such beauty befits only angels.”42
Zulaykha achieved what she had wanted.
She laughed up her sleeve when she saw the fascinated state of the women. She could not find any opportunity better than this one to justify herself.
She addressed the women as follows:
"This young man is Yusuf. You were gossiping about me saying that I fell in love with him. You were overwhelmed by him. You cut your fingers while looking at him but you did not notice it. I am in the same place as him every day. I see this beauty every day. I swear that I did my best to make Yusuf love me but he did not accept it. However, I did not give up my desire. He will either give in to my desire or go to prison and suffer there with murderers.”43
Now, the women started to think that Zulaykha was right. They thought Yusuf acted stupidly when he refused her offer. They asked Yusuf in surprise:
"Why did you not accept the offer of Zulaykha, who is a noble and beautiful woman? Is it better to suffer in prison?”
Yusuf replied them as follows:
"Yes, the prison is more to my liking than disobeying Allah.”
There were two ways for Hz. Yusuf: He had to choose one of them. Either he would accept Zulaykha’s offer by losing his chastity and honor and by being disgraced in the eye of his Lord and all prophets or he would accept to go to prison by waiving worldly pleasure and attaining Allah's consent and endless bliss in the hereafter with the other prophets. There were no other choices. Hz. Yusuf had nowhere to go in Egypt. Nobody in Egypt would accept him since they all heard about the incident between him and Zulaykha. For, it was an issue of honor. When Yusuf realized that he would not be able to leave Egypt and the palace of Aziz and that he would not be able to get rid of the evil of Zulaykha, he opened his hands and prayed Allah as follows:
"O my Lord! The prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me: unless You turn away their snare from me, I should feel inclined towards them and join the ranks of the ignorant.”44
GOING TO PRISON
As days passed, Zulaykha resorted to all kinds of methods to have Yusuf. However, Yusuf did not say yes to her. Her honor of womanhood was damaged; therefore, her fury and bad temper increased.
When she realized that she would not be able to persuade Yusuf through normal ways, she decided to send him to prison and make him beg her. With this thought in her mind, she said to her husband,
"I cannot go out because of this boy. Everybody is talking about me; they are criticizing me. Send Yusuf to prison so that people will think he is guilty and they will stop gossiping. Then, I will be relaxed.”45
Zulaykha’s husband, Qitfir, knew that Yusuf was innocent but he loved his wife very much; therefore, he never refused her wishes.
He did not want to send Yusuf to prison since he was innocent but he had to do what his wife wanted. Thus, he sent Yusuf to prison.46
Zulaykha hoped two things would happen since Yusuf was sent to prison: Firstly, she hoped that people would stop gossiping about her. Secondly, she hoped that Yusuf would not put up with the troubles in prison and beg her. The first one happened soon. People forgot about the issue and started to talk about other things. However, the second one never happened. Zulaykha waited in vain for Yusuf to beg her to take him out of prison.
Yusuf preferred staying in prison to accepting her ugly offer.
* * *
Indeed, Hz. Yusuf did not suffer so much as Zulaykha thought in prison. For Allah turned the prison to a school and temple for Yusuf. He performed prayers there and thanked Allah. He made a lot of friends in prison thanks to his high ethics. He made them forget that they were in prison. Everybody was content with their lives.
Yusuf fulfilled his worshipping like performing prayers and fasting without any delay. He also taught the people in prison the knowledge and wisdom taught to him by Allah. He visited the ill prisoners and consoled those who were sad. He advised them to be patient. He interpreted their dreams; his interpretations always turned out to be true.47
THE FATHER OF PRISONERS
Hz. Yusuf is the first preacher of the truth and mujahid of belief who was imprisoned though he was innocent because he did not accept to deviate from the right path. After him, so many mujahids of Islam and belief following the same path were imprisoned by being slandered and accused like him. They also turned prisons to schools and training places like Hz. Yusuf. Therefore, Hz. Yusuf is regarded as the father of those who are imprisoned unjustly.48
THE FIRST CLOCK
Hz. Yusuf had only one problem in prison: He had difficulty in determining the times for prayers because the prison was dark.
It was difficult to differentiate between day and night. Thereupon, Allah taught him to make a clock to help him perform prayers on time. Thus, Hz. Yusuf became the first person to make a clock. Then, clocks spread to the world from Egypt. Therefore, Hz. Yusuf is also the father of clock makers.49
THE DREAMS OF TWO YOUNG MEN
When Hz. Yusuf was in prison, they brought two young men to prison.50 One of them was the baker of the king and the other was the sherbet maker of him.
Some people who wanted to depose the king offered both of them to poison the king. The baker accepted it but the sherbet maker did not. When the conspiracy was found out, they accused each other. The king sent both of them to prison to find out the truth.51
Both of these young men had a dream. They asked Yusuf to interpret it. One of them said to him,
"O Yusuf! I saw a strange dream last night. I was squeezing grapes and offering it to the king. Will you interpret it?”
The other one narrated his dream as follows:
"I also had a strange dream. I was carrying bread on my head, and a bird of prey suddenly came and started to eat it. I woke up scared. How do you interpret it?”52
Before interpreting their dreams, Hz. Yusuf asked them to believe in Allah.53 He said to them,
"I am a prophet of Allah. My duty is to call people to the right path and to ensure them to accept the true religion. The ability to interpret dreams and the property of doing favors, which you see in me, are properties of prophethood. Besides, I can tell you about the foods that help you to survive and that are sent to you by your families, their kinds, flavor and amount before they come to you. They are some of the knowledge taught to me by my Lord. I call people to guidance with it.”54
Hz. Yusuf narrated them his life story and why he was sent to prison because people would not understand why a prophet could be in prison. Then, he spoke as follows:
"I abandoned a nation (that is the people of Egypt and the family of Aziz), which denied Allah and the hereafter. If I had obeyed them, I would have been like them. I followed the religion of my ancestors, Yaqub, Ishaq and Ibrahim. They are all graces of Allah granted to me.”55
While Hz. Yusuf was talking to these two young men about those issues, the people around also started to listen to him. When they understood that Hz. Yusuf was a descendant of Hz. Ibrahim, they started to listen more carefully. Thus, many more people listened to Hz. Yusuf.
Making use of this sincere atmosphere, Hz. Yusuf addressed them as follows:
"O my companions of prison! Are many lords differing among themselves better, or Allah, the One Supreme and Irresistible? Think about it.”56 Thus, he declared his cause of oneness by expressing the meaninglessness of worshipping idols.
INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS
Then, he started to interpret their dreams. First, he interpreted the dream of the sherbet maker:
"O my inmate! You will be saved from prison and will go on making sherbet for the king.”
Then, he turned to the baker. He interpreted the dream of the baker as follows:
"Unfortunately, you will be executed. Birds will perch on your head and eat the flesh of your head.”57
Hz. Yusuf also reminded the one he said he would be saved the following:
"You know my situation. Tell the king about me. Tell him that I was imprisoned unjustly.”58
Hz. Yusuf asked the help of a weak person due to being heedless of his Lord for a moment.
This is a normal request for ordinary people but it was not permissible for a prophet to ask for the help of a person leaving God Almighty, the Creator of all creatures.
As Hz. Yusuf said, the sherbet maker started to work in his previous duty. The bread maker was hanged since he was guilty; his brain was eaten by birds.
The sherbet maker was overwhelmed by the splendor of the palace and Satan made him forget about telling the king about Hz. Yusuf. Therefore, Hz. Yusuf, stayed seven more years in prison in addition five years as atonement for asking the help of another person instead of Allah.
It is narrated that Yusuf had been in prison for five years when he said to the sherbet maker, “Tell the king about me.” It means Yusuf stayed in prison for 12 years since he stayed seven more years after that.59
THE KING'S DREAM
One night, the king of Egypt had a dream.
In his dream, he was sitting by the River Nile in order to rest. Suddenly seven fat cows came out of the river. After them, seven lean cows came out.
The lean cows attacked the fat cows and ate them.
The king woke up in terror. He was trembling all over. What he saw in his dream made him scared.
He fell asleep again. This time, he saw seven withered ears of corn eating seven green ones.60 He woke up by jumping. His fear and panic increased. Both dreams aimed to tell him something. He summoned his ministers. He told them about his dream and asked them to interpret it. However, his ministers could not interpret his dream. Thereupon, he summoned all of the scholars, soothsayers and dream interpreters of Egypt to the palace. The king told them about his dream. However, none of them could explain or interpret it reasonably. Finally, they said, “It is a confused medley of dreams that is impossible to interpret.”61
This answer did not satisfy the king. He still felt the terror of the dream. He did not think that it was a meaningless dream. However, he could not find anyone to interpret it.
Along with the king, everybody in the palace became worried. They were all thinking about what to do. Suddenly, the sherbet maker remembered his inmate Yusuf. He had forgotten Yusuf. Yusuf had the ability to interpret all kinds of dreams. Seven years passed after he left prison. He felt very sorry that he did not remember him for such a long time.
He said to the king,
"His Highness! I can interpret your dream.”
The king became very happy and said,
"Really? Interpret it immediately then." He said,
"I had a friend called Yusuf in prison. He had great knowledge about interpreting dreams. Send me to him and I will ask him about the interpretation of your dream. I think he can interpret your dream in the best way.”62
The king agreed and sent his sherbet maker to the prison. The sherbet maker ran to the prison and told Yusuf about the incident. He asked Yusuf to interpret the dream of the king.
Hz. Yusuf interpreted the dream as follows:
"For seven years, you will live in abundance. Sow as much wheat as you can and harvest it. Leave the extra wheat in the ear because after the years of abundance you will undergo long years of drought and famine. You can eat the wheat that you will store in those seven years of drought and famine. Thus, you can survive.
This is the interpretation of the dream of the king. Go and tell him about it.”63
As soon as the sherbet maker found out about the interpretation of the dream, he ran to the palace to talk to the king. He told the king what Yusuf had told him.
The king liked this interpretation very much. He had felt similar meanings. With the interpretation of Yusuf, the meaning of the dream became clear. .
The king was impressed greatly by the profound knowledge of Hz. Yusuf about dreams. It was a misfortune for such a wise person to stay in prison.
He sent his men to the prison and asked them to bring Yusuf to the palace.64
YUSUF’S INNOCENCE IS UNDERSTOOD
The men of the king went to the prison to tell Hz. Yusuf about the situation but Hz. Yusuf did not accept to leave prison at that time. He laid the following condition in order to accept the invitation of the king:
"I will not go out of prison unless it is understood by everybody that I am innocent and that I was imprisoned unjustly. Go to the king and ask him to find out why the women had cut their hands.”65
Hz. Yusuf had been in prison for twelve years. However, he did not want to go out as soon as he heard about the decision of release. First, he wanted an investigation to be opened regarding the accusation against him.
Thus, everybody would know that he was innocent. He would go out of prison because he was innocent not because the king pardoned him. He would live honorably after going out of prison, not like a criminal.
This act of Yusuf’s was an extraordinary act. It was the best example of acting based on mind and reason, not feelings. It was an act that fit a well-known prophet like Hz. Yusuf.
Hz. Prophet (pbuh) praised the patience and calmness of Hz. Yusuf as follows: in a hadith:
"I am surprised by the patience and calmness of Yusuf. If I stayed in prison as long as he did, I would accept the invitation and go out of prison at once.”66
The king's men went to the king and told him about the condition of Hz. Yusuf. The king accepted Hz. Yusuf’s request. He ordered his men to find the women who were present in the house of Zulaykha for the feast at that time. The women were brought to the palace. Zulaykha was also among them. The king asked them to tell him about the incident of cutting their hands. After listening to them, he asked them about their opinions whether Yusuf was guilty or not. All of them said,
"We have not seen or heard Yusuf doing anything bad or wrong. He is really innocent.”
Zulaykha saw that the truth came out. There was no point in hiding her crime any longer. She started to confess tearfully:
"The truth has come out now. I wanted Yusuf to love me. However, he never approached me. I got furious and sent him to prison. Yusuf is really innocent. I am guilty.”67
With this confession of Zulaykha’s, it became clear that Hz. Yusuf was innocent. It became clear that he had stayed in prison unjustly for years. As the king found out about Yusuf, his reliance on him increased. He wanted to make use of his knowledge and honesty. He wanted to give him an important position in state administration.
The kings of the men went to the prison and told Hz. Yusuf that he was acquitted in the eye of the public. They said it became clear that he was innocent. Hz. Yusuf became very happy when he heard this news. After thanking Allah, he said to the men of the king:
"I wanted it to be known by the Aziz of Egypt and the people that I never betrayed the Aziz of Egypt. I wanted it to be known that God Almighty would prevent the tricks of the betrayers.
Nor do I absolve my own self of blame; the human soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord bestows His Mercy.”68
There is a great lesson to be taken from those words of Hz. Yusuf’s. Man must never rely on his soul because the soul always wants man to do bad things. It is necessary to take refuge in Allah all the time in order to get rid of the evil of the soul. Man can prevent his soul's bad desires only by the grace and help of Allah. "How can the soul be relied on when a noble prophet like Hz. Yusuf said: Nor do I absolve my own self of blame...? One who accuses his soul, sees its faults. And one who admits his faults, seeks forgiveness for them. And one who seeks forgiveness, takes refuge with God. And one who takes refuge with God, is saved from Satan’s evil. Not to see his faults is a greater fault than the first fault...” (Lem’alar, 81)
HZ. YUSUF BECOMES A MINISTER IN EGYPT
After being acquitted, Hz. Yusuf came out of prison. He had a bath, put on new clothes and went to the presence of the king.
During the greeting and conversation, the king addressed Yusuf with a few different languages that he knew. Hz. Yusuf answered him in the same languages thanks to divine revelation.
The king's admiration toward Hz. Yusuf increased. He asked Yusuf to interpret his dream again. Hz. Yusuf interpreted his dream again. Thereupon, the king said,
"Who is going to do the things that you mention?" Hz. Yusuf regarded it as an offer and said,
"If you set me over the storehouses of the land, I will take all kinds of measures for drought and famine in the best way. You can rely on me.”69
The king accepted it gladly. Besides, the Aziz of Egypt had died. After his death, the economy of Egypt started to enter a crisis. Everybody was complaining about the economic situation. Therefore, the king became very glad when Yusuf wanted to work for him.
* * *
He gave the seal of the state to Yusuf immediately. He also gave Yusuf a throne decorated with pearls and rubies as a present. Then, he gave Yusuf a crown to put on his head. Hz. Yusuf looked at the throne and said,
"I will strengthen the state with it.” He looked at the seal and said, “I will fulfill the affairs of the government with it.” However, he did not like wearing the crown. He said, “The throne is something that is not worn by me or by my ancestors.” Then, he gave it back.
After that, he sat on the throne and started to work officially as the minister in charge of the economy with extraordinary authority.
After giving the duty of Qitfir to Hz. Yusuf, the king married the wife of Qitfir, Zulaykha, off to Yusuf. Thus, Zulaykha rejoined her love, Yusuf.
The wrench she suffered after leaving Yusuf and the pangs of conscience she had changed her a lot. The years that passed eliminated her bad temper. She became mature enough to be the wife of Yusuf.
Hz. Yusuf had three children from Zulaykha: two sons called Ephraim and Mersha (Manasseh) and a daughter called Rahmah.70
Rahmah, became the wife of Hz. Ayyub (Job) and Ephraim became an ancestor of Hz. Musa.71
* * *
After undertaking the duty of the ministry of economy, Hz. Yusuf took action immediately. He built the country again and found solutions to the problems of the people. The people liked his administration. He built big storehouses during the 7-year period of abundance and stored cereals there. Drought and famine started in the 8th year. People living in the other countries suffered but the people of Egypt did not have any difficulties thanks to the measures taken by Hz. Yusuf.
Hz. Yusuf distributed the wheat that he had stored justly to the needy. The people living in the countries around Egypt started to come to Egypt in large groups because of the drought and famine.
HIS BROTHERS IN THE PRESENCE OF YUSUF
Drought and famine existed not only in Egypt but also in Damascus and Palestine. The food stocks of the people ran out. While they were thinking about what to do, they heard that the Aziz of Egypt distributed cereals to people. People started to go to Egypt in caravans. They returned with a lot of cereals.
Hz. Yaqub and his sons also ran out of cereals. Thereupon, Hz. Yaqub decided to send his sons to Egypt.
Leaving Bunyamin with their father, the ten brothers set off with some valuable things. They were going to give them to the Aziz of Egypt and get enough wheat in return for them.
After a tiring journey, the caravan arrived in Egypt. The ten brothers went straight to the palace. They went to the presence of Yusuf. Hz. Yusuf recognized them as soon as he saw them. However, they could not recognize Yusuf because they never realized that Yusuf, whom they sold as a slave, would become a minister in Egypt. Besides, Yusuf had grown up; he talked ancient Egyptian and his name had changed. The king of Egypt named him Safinat Fuayni.72
Hz. Yusuf asked them:
"Who are you?" They answered:
"We are sons of Hz Yaqub, who lives in Palestine." He asked,
"How many brothers are you?" They said,
"We were twelve brothers but one of our brothers died. We left the youngest one with our father. He consoles himself with our younger brother.73
Hz. Yusuf remembered the past. He could still hear the revelation Allah sent when his brothers threw him down into the well:
"Do not worry! You are going to be saved and remind your brothers about this bad deed they did to you in the future. They are not going to know you then.74
Thus, his brothers came from Palestine to him; the divine revelation started to come true.
Hz. Yusuf entertained his brothers during their stay in Egypt. He also gave them the cereals they needed. While seeing them off, Yusuf said to them,
"Bring me your youngest brother, whom you left with your father. I will give you cereals again. As you saw, I measure justly and give everybody their due, neither more nor less than what they deserve. If you do not bring your brother the next time you come, I will not meet your needs. You will have come here in vain.”75.
Yusuf’s brothers were surprised. For them, yhere was no problem in bringing Bunyamin with them. However, it was doubtful whether their father would allow him to go with them. After the death of Hz. Yusuf, he never left Bunyamin alone and did not send him anywhere with his brothers.
They explained their problem to Yusuf and said,
"However, we will ask our father to send him with us. We will do our best to bring him to you.76
Hz. Yusuf desired to see his father and his only full brother, whom he had not seen for years. It was impossible to see his father now but it was possible for him to see Bunyamin on the pretext of giving cereals. Therefore, he reminded his brothers several times to bring Bunyamin to him. Besides, he put the things that they had brought in order to get cereals back into their baggage without being noticed.77 Thus, he did his best in order to make them come to Egypt again.
SECOND JOURNEY TO EGYPT
Yusuf’s brothers returned to Egypt joyfully. They went to their father before they opened their baggage. They told him what had happened in Egypt. They told him that they needed to take Bunyamin with them in order to get cereals again. They mentioned the insistence of the Aziz of Egypt regarding the issue.
Hz. Yaqub said to them,
"I sent Yusuf with you beforehand. You knew what happened to him. Now you want Bunyamin. How can I rely on you? Even if I send Bunyamin with you, I will entrust him to Allah. He is the best to take care of him and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.78
Hz. Yaqub was right. It was very difficult for him to trust his sons after what happened to Yusuf. However, it was clear that they would not be able to get any cereals if they did not take Bunyamin to the Aziz of Egypt.
Therefore, his sons started to beg Hz. Yaqub to send Bunyamin with them. Meanwhile, they started to open their baggage. They were surprised when they opened their bags. The things they had taken to Egypt were put back in their bags. They became very happy. They showed them to their father and said,
"Dear Dad! Our things were returned to us. We can get cereals with them again. Please send Bunyamin with us. We will protect him. We will get another camel-load of cereals.”79
What made Hz. Yaqub worry was the risk of something happening to Bunyamin like Yusuf. He never forgot the wrench caused by the disappearance of Yusuf. He was able to console himself a bit thanks to Bunyamin. If he lost Bunyamin, he would never find anything that would console him. And nothing would relieve his pains.
However, it was obvious that the cereals they had brought would not be sufficient for the family for a long time. It was necessary to get cereals again. Bunyamin needed to go to Egypt with his brothers to get cereals. Hz. Yaqub was indecisive.
On the one hand, the sustenance of his family was in question; on the other hand, he was worried about Bunyamin.
Eventually, he could not put up with the insistence of his sons; he preferred the sustenance of his family to Bunyamin. He agreed to send him to Egypt with his brothers.
His brothers promised and vowed that they would protect Bunyamin at any rate.80
While sending his sons to Egypt, Hz. Yaqub gave his sons the following advice:
"O my sons! Enter not all by one gate. Enter by different gates. Not that I can profit you aught against Allah with my advice: none can command except Allah: on Him do I put my trust and let all that trust put their trust on Him.”81
Hz. Yaqub was worried that something bad might happen to his sons. The reason why he wanted them to enter Egypt by different gates was a precaution. The duty of a person is to take measures. Whatever Allah predestinates happens and precautions cannot prevent destiny but man will get rid of spiritual responsibility if he takes measures. He will be relaxed when he fulfills his duty.
Hz. Yaqub looked after his children after seeing them off. He prayed Allah to make them return safe and sound. Then, he returned home. He started to wait in patience and reliance in Allah.
HZ. YUSUF MEETS BUNYAMIN
Hz. Yaqub’s sons acted in accordance with the advice of their father while entering Egypt. Each of them entered Egypt through different gates.82 They went to the palace of Hz. Yusuf separately.
Hz. Yusuf welcomed them one by one. When all of them arrived, they introduced Bunyamin to Yusuf. They said, “Here is our younger brother, whom you asked us to bring. We have brought him.”
Hz. Yusuf looked at Bunyamin with longing. He was sitting in a corner in humility, unaware of anything. Hz. Yusuf waited for the evening patiently in order to talk to him alone.
Hz. Yusuf gave a big feast to his brothers, whom he had been away for years, that night. He arranged them to sit in pairs. When Bunyamin was left alone, he started to cry. He said, “If my brother Yusuf had been alive, he would be sitting with me.” Hz. Yusuf made him sit next him in order to console him.
After dinner, Hz. Yusuf arranged their rooms to stay in pairs. Bunyamin was left alone again. Hz. Yusuf said, “He has nobody stay with. I will entertain him in my room.”
At last, Hz. Yusuf had the opportunity to talk to his brother alone. He said to Bunyamin,
"Would you like me to be your brother instead of your brother who died?”
Bunyamin was moved by his words and started to cry:
"Who can find a brother like you? However, you are not the son of my mother Rahil and my father Yaqub.”
Hz. Yusuf could not put up with it any longer. He hugged his brother with compassion and said,
"Do not worry. I am Yusuf, your brother whom you think is dead.”
Bunyamin started to shiver in excitement. He could not believe in his ears. Was this person, who was hugging him, really his brother, Yusuf? He felt as if his heart would stop.
Two brothers looked at each other for a long time. After their excitement soothed, they talked for a long time. Hz. Yusuf did not want his brothers to know about him for the time being. He reminded Bunyamin about it. He told Bunyamin not to tell his brothers that he was Yusuf. Hz. Yusuf wanted to keep Bunyamin with him in the palace. He told Bunyamin about his intention.
"I will retain you with an excuse. Be aware of it. I will do the rest. Do not worry by thinking about our father. Inshaallah everything will be fine."
Hz. Yusuf prepared the baggage of his brothers and gave them food packets to eat on the way. Meanwhile, he made his men put a very valuable bowl belonging to the king into the baggage of Bunyamin.
The caravan of the eleven brothers set off. Hz Yusuf saw them off.
When the caravan started to move, the guards of the palace stopped them. They said,
“Where are you going? You have stolen something. We will search your baggage.” The brothers were surprised. They said,
"Theft? What was stolen?”
The guards said,
"A very valuable bowl that the king uses to drink water. A reward of a camel load of cereals was promised to the person who finds it.”83
Meanwhile, Hz. Yusuf arrived. The brothers said to him in confidence:
"You know that we are the family of a prophet. You know that we did not come to Egypt for theft. Come and search our baggage.” Thereupon, Hz. Yusuf said,
"If the thief is one of you, what is the punishment for him in your country?”
They gave the following answer:
"In our country, the thief works for a year as a servant for the person whose property he has stolen."84
Thus, Hz. Yusuf made his brothers state the punishment for theft according to the religion of Hz. Yaqub. So, he found the excuse to retain Bunyamin and keep him in the palace.
Hz. Yusuf ordered his men to search his brothers' things. The guards dropped the loads from the camels. They started to search through their things. Finally, they found the bowl in the baggage of Bunyamin.
Bunyamin’s brothers were astonished when they saw it.
They did not know what to do. They were in a very difficult situation.
They thought about what to do and decided to accuse Bunyamin as the last resort. They turned to Hz. Yusuf and said:
"If Bunyamin has stolen, we accept that he is guilty. Besides, his brother Yusuf had also stolen beforehand. They have a tendency to steal in their nature.”
Bunyamin did not say anything despite this severe accusation. Hz. Yusuf grinned painfully. He said to himself, “You are the real thieves because you stole me from my father.” Then, he turned to his brothers and said,
"You are in a very bad situation. Allah knows better whether what you say is true or not.” 85
The incident of theft his brothers mentioned about Yusuf was the incident of stealing the belt.86
However, that incident was a source of pride for Hz. Yusuf, not a reason for accusation.
BUNYAMIN STAYS WITH HZ. YUSUF
Hz. Yusuf said he would retain Bunyamin for a year since he was accused of being a thief. His brothers told him that this was the punishment for a thief according to the law of Hz. Yaqub.
This news shocked the brothers. They started to talk to one another:
"What are we going to do now? We promised our father that we would protect Bunyamin.”
They found only one solution: To leave one of them instead of Bunyamin and to take Bunyamin to their father.
They went to Hz. Yusuf and started to beg him:
"Dear minister. He has an old father. His father loves him very much. He is the only source of consolation for him. We beg you to retain one of us and to return Bunyamin to us. You are a very good person. You like doing favors. Please accept our request and make us happy.”
Hz. Yusuf refused this request:
"God forbid! We will retain the one who took our thing. Otherwise, we will be oppressors.”87
Despite all of the requests and insistence of his brothers, Hz. Yusuf did not change his decision. He retained Bunyamin and released the others.
The brothers lost their hope of taking Bunyamin back. They went to a quiet place and started to talk. The oldest one, Yahuda, said painfully,
"We promised our father that we would protect Bunyamin. We even vowed. Then, I will not return until I take my brother or hear that my father forgave me. You go back and tell our father about the situation.”88
Yahuda stayed in Egypt. The other brothers set off in frustration. They were very sad. They arrived home and saw their father. Hz. Yaqub asked where Bunyamin was when he did not see him. They said,
The Aziz of Egypt retained him for one year because he stole something.”
Hz. Yaqub said angrily,
"No. My son never steals.”
"If you wish, you can ask the people in the other caravans. They also saw the incident.”
Upon this answer, Hz. Yaqub sat down humbly and said,
"You did the same thing to Yusuf and Bunyamin. However, I never lose my hope. I rely on Allah.
I hope he will return my children to me.
He definitely knows my situation and my sons' situation. He decrees appropriately. What I need to do is to show patience and accept His decree.”89
After speaking like that, Hz. Yaqub turned his face away from his sons and started to whine by saying,
"O grief that came to me with the separation of Yusuf! Do not keep away from me! Come to me! How great is my grief for Yusuf! I will be your friend instead of Yusuf.”90
HADITHS ABOUT GRIEF AND CRYING
The Prophet (pbuh) asked Jibril,
"To what degree did Yaqub's compassion to Yusuf reach?” Jibril said, “The compassion of a mother who lost her child.” The Prophet (pbuh) asked, “How much is his reward?” Jibril answered, “The reward of one hundred martyrs because he never had any negative feelings about Allah." 91
The Prophet cried for his son Ibrahim when he died and showed his grief by turning toward his grave as follows:
"The heart feels grief; the eyes shed tears. We do not utter the word that will attract my Lord's wrath. However, we are really sorry for you Ibrahim."92
Those narrations show that it is religiously permissible to cry solemnly and to feel grief through the heart like the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did without crying aloud, screaming, or tearing one's hair off.
Once the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) cried and felt grief for the daughter of a person.
The Companions said,
"O Messenger of Allah! You are crying but you had prohibited us from crying.” He answered,
“I did not prohibit you from crying. I prohibited you from two stupid sounds: The first one is shouting in a spoiled way when one is happy; the other is uttering sounds like "ow", "aah" in a way as if complaining about Allah when one is sad.
EYES BECOMING WHITE
Losing Bunyamin after Yusuf saddened Hz. Yaqub a lot. He shed tears for months. In the end, his eyes became white; then, he became blind.93
When his sons saw his situation, they said,
"O Dad! You are still crying for Yusuf. Do not harm yourself. We fear that you will die and leave us fatherless if you cry like that.”94
His sons regarded his situation as complaining and showing impatience.
Complaining about his situation and showing impatience are deeds that do not fit a prophet. That is why they criticized their father.
In fact, Hz. Yaqub’s sorrow and pain did not mean complaining to people and it did not originate from impatience. Hz. Yaqub explained his situation to them as follows:
"My dear sons! You misunderstand me. I do not complain about you or anybody else. I tell Allah about my situation. I tell Him about my troubles and sorrow. I believe that Allah will have mercy on me and save me from my troubles and sorrow. Unlike what you think, I never think of complaining to weak people about Allah.”95
It is understood from the words of Hz. Yaqub that it is permissible to complain to Allah about the misfortunes and troubles one suffers.
What is not permissible is to tell people about one's trouble in a way that asks people to show pity on him, which can be regarded as complaining to people about Allah.96
After explaining the real nature of his sorrow to his sons like that, Hz Yaqub spoke as follows:
"My dear sons! I know some things that you do not know because Allah informs me about them. Go to Egypt again. Look for Yusuf and Bunyamin. Never lose hope of finding them. No one despairs of Allah's soothing mercy, except those who have no faith.”97
Hz, Yaqub could feel that Yusuf was alive. It was clear that Bunyamin and Yahuda were alive. The journeys to Egypt after drought and the incidents in Egypt caused Hz. Yaqub to foresee something about Hz. Yusuf. In fact, what made Hz. Yaqub sorry was the fact that he could not seek Hz. Yusuf properly and he could not find an occasion to do so. He felt that it was time he did something to find Yusuf without waiting any longer. He clearly expressed his hope about the issue by telling his sons not to lose hope about Yusuf and sending them to Egypt to look for Yusuf.
THE WISDOM BEHIND THE MISFORTUNES THAT HIT HZ. YAQUB
The wisdom behind and the reason why Hz. Yaqub underwent such a painful and saddening test is explained as follows: follows in the tafsir of Madarik:
Hz. Yaqub sold the child of a female slave that he had bought, which saddened the female slave deeply. In fact, it was something legal but it was not fit for a prophet to separate a child from his mother. In accordance with the rule, "the punishment for something is given in the same way", he was separated from his own son and suffered the same thing. For, as the rule "some deeds that are regarded as good for righteous people are regarded as bad for saints" denotes, it might be something normal for a person to sell a child and to separate him from his mother but it is regarded as a bad deed for Hz. Yaqub.
Hz. Yaqub knew that Yusuf was alive. The location of Bunyamin and Yahuda was also clear. They did not seem as ordinary events to him. He felt that some divine wisdom and mercy was hidden behind them.
Deep inside him, Hz. Yaqub felt that Yusuf was in Egypt.
Hz Yaqub heeded this deep feeling and sent his children to Egypt to find them.
Hz. Yaqub’s sons went to Egypt again upon the order of their father. They went into the presence of Hz. Yusuf.
Hz. Yusuf saw that they were sad and regretful. It was clear that Bunyamin’s staying in Egypt and the incidents that followed affected them a lot.
The brothers told Yusuf about their situation as follows:
"O Aziz! We are in a very bad situation. Bunyamin's separation along with our financial difficulty distressed us and our father. Our father became blind due to distress. We brought a few worthless things to get some cereals. Please accept them and give us cereals again. Complete your favor by giving Bunyamin back to us. Allah will not forget any charity and help. He will reward the favors done for His sake.”98
Hz. Yusuf realized that it was time he introduced himself to his brothers. The incidents that took place taught them their lessons and brought them to their senses.
ARE YOU YUSUF?
Hz. Yusuf was affected by the painful and distressed situation of his brothers. In order to introduce himself to them, he said,
"Do you know what you did to Yusuf and his brother? Do you admit the unjust deeds you did?”99
This unexpected question astonished the brothers. They started to have some images in their minds:
A rope and a child tied to it, a well, bargaining and the luminous child that was sold for very little money.
They flashed before their eyes. They blushed and felt embarrassed. They were shocked. What did the Aziz mean? They started to stare at his face. It looked as if they knew him. All of them shouted suddenly,
"Are you Yusuf?” He answered,
"Yes, I am and this is my brother Bunyamin. Allah has indeed been gracious to us. He elevated me to this honorable position. Allah will never make the reward of those who are righteous and patient be lost.”100
Yusuf’s brothers confirmed what he said by the following confession:
"O Yusuf! Allah has Allah preferred you above us. We certainly have been guilty of sin. We regret it. Please do not punish us for what we did.”101
The compassionate prophet, Hz. Yusuf answered his brothers as follows:
"This day and from now on let no reproach be cast on you by me. I will not remind you what you did. I forgive you all. Beg and pray Allah. I hope Allah will forgive you.”102
With this statement, Hz. Yusuf declared that he forgave his brothers. Thus, the agony of long years soothed and the pangs of conscience ended. When the pleasure of forgiving and being forgiven was added to it, the joy and happiness of Yusuf and his brothers increased greatly.
The Messenger of Allah stood at the gate of the Kaaba on the day of the conquest of Makkah and addressed Qurayshis as follows:
"O people of Quraysh! How do you think I will treat you?”
"We expect good deeds and favors from you because you are a generous brother. You also have the power”
Thereupon, the prophet said,
"I will address you like my brother Yusuf addressed his brothers: ‘This day and from now on let no reproach be cast on you’.”
The expression of the confession of Hz. Yusuf’s brothers by understanding their mistakes in the Quran was quoted by a poem by Ziya Pasha in a couplet as follows:
God Almighty will make oppressors say
'Tallahi laqad aserakallahu alayna'.103
Hz. Yusuf entertained his brothers in his palace for a few days. He gave them feasts.
Hz. Yusuf forgave his brothers but when they remembered what they had done to Yusuf, they felt embarrassed and disturbed.
They told Hz. Yusuf about this situation as follows:
"Dear brother! You give us food in the morning and in the evening. However, we feel embarrassed due to our previous sins and cannot look at your face.”
Hz. Yusuf became sad when he heard that his brothers had feelings like that. In order to eliminate this feeling, he said,
"I hold the position of Aziz but the people of Egypt used to see me as a slave since they first saw me as a slave. They often asked themselves in surprise: “God! How did a slave sold for a very low price attain such a position?”
Thanks to you, the people started to show respect to me. They found out that I was not an ordinary slave and that I belonged to the family of a prophet. Therefore, I am grateful to you.”104
He consoled his brothers by speaking so.
After staying with Hz. Yusuf for a few days more, his brothers started to make preparations to go to Palestine. They were going to give their father the good news that they found Yusuf.
While seeing his brothers off, Hz. Yusuf took off his shirt and gave it to his brothers. He said,
"Go with this my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father: he will come to see clearly. Then come here to me together with all your family. We will live in Egypt in abundance.”105
This shirt was the shirt that Hz. Ibrahim had on him when he was thrown into fire. According to a narration, Hz. Jibril brought it from Paradise and made Hz. Ibrahim wear it. According to the statement of Hz. Jibril, the smell of Paradise that penetrated into the shirt had the curative property for all kinds of illnesses.106 Therefore, Hz. Yusuf said his father's eyes would definitely see again.
Even if it was not so, it was possible for Hz. Yaqub’s eyes to see again as a miracle since both Hz. Yaqub, and Hz. Yusuf were prophets.
Yahuda took Hz. Yusuf’s shirt and said,
"When we threw Yusuf into the well, I took the shirt and distressed my father. Therefore, I will take it to my father and give him the good news to him.”107
The caravan of the brothers left Egypt with happiness. They started to head toward Palestine very fast.
When the caravan left Egypt, Hz. Yaqub, who was in Palestine, started to act differently. He smiled, turned toward Egypt and breathed in and out deeply.
The family members who were with him could not understand why he was doing so and they started to look at him strangely. He did not want keep them in suspense and started to explain happily why he was doing so:
"I hear the smell of Yusuf. I will meet him inshaallah. Do not think that I have become senile. You will soon see that I am telling the truth.”108
HOW DID HZ. YAQUB RECEIVE THE SMELL OF YUSUF?
According to the explanations of tafsir scholars, Allah sent the smell of Hz. Yusuf’s shirt to Hz. Yaqub as a miracle.109
Once, they asked Hz. Yaqub:
"How come did you hear the smell of the shirt coming from Egypt but you did not feel that Yusuf was in a well in Kanan, which was near you?” Hz. Yaqub answered:
"We are like lightning. It sometimes becomes visible and sometimes hides. We sometimes seem to be sitting in the highest place and see everything around. Sometimes, we cannot even see what is on our feet.”110
In his tafsir, Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır gives the following explanation about Hz. Yaqub’s receiving the smell of Hz.Yusuf:
"It is understood from the expression of the verse that this smell was perceived through the wind and it arrived all of a sudden when the caravan left Egypt. This tells us that smell can be transferred through air to long distances just like lightning and that there is a secret law about it. This incident is a miracle but it is possible to work hard and find that secret law, which will enable us to transfer smell and similar things to long distances.”111
Hz. YAQUB’S EYES START TO SEE AGAIN
Hz. Yaqub perceived the smell of Hz. Yusuf from a long distance. He told the people around about it without any hesitation because he believed that it was true. He knew that they would not believe him; therefore, he said to them, “Do not think that I have become senile. You will soon see that I am telling the truth.” However, his family members said,
"You still say Yusuf, Yusuf. You think will rejoin him. In fact, you are in your old wandering illusion.”112
However, it was soon understood who was wrong. Yahuda arrived with Yusuf's shirt, which indicated that Yusuf was alive. He gave the shirt to his father. Hz. Yaqub took the shirt, smelled it and wiped it over his face. With the permission of Allah, his eyes started to see immediately. His world became enlightened along with his eyes. He thanked and praised Allah for this grace.
Soon, the caravan with a big load arrived. Everybody became very happy. Hz. Yaqub did not scold his sons for what they did. He preferred to forget about the past in a way that fitted a prophet. He only reminded them about his last piece of advice:
"Did I not say to you, I Know from Allah that which you know not?”113
Hz. Yaqub’s sons confirmed their father, apologized to him and asked him to forgive them:
"O our father! We have committed sins. We are very sorry. Ask for us forgiveness for our sins from God Almighty.” Hz. Yaqub told them that he forgave them and added:
"Soon will I ask my Lord for forgiveness for you: for He is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”114
Hz. Yaqub forgave them immediately for his personal rights but he did not ask Allah to forgive them at that time. He probably delayed it to a time like early morning or Friday, when prayers are accepted.115 Maybe he waited for them to ask forgiveness from Yusuf because the first condition of Allah's pardoning is forgiveness by the wronged person.”116
Hz. Yusuf invited his father Hz. Yaqub to Egypt with all of his family members. Hz. Yaqub set off for Egypt, with his wife, children and grandchildren.
The king was also informed about their arrival.
The king, Hz. Yusuf and 4000 soldiers went out of the city to meet them.117 Hz. Yusuf prepared a special place for his parents to rest. 118
Hz. Yusuf got more and more excited as the time for reunion approached.
Finally, the caravan appeared. Hz. Yaqub was walking by leaning on his oldest son, Yahuda.
When Hz. Yaqub and Hz. Yusuf met, Hz. Yaqub greeted first:
"Greetings to you the one who eliminated sorrow!”119
The son and the father hugged each other longingly. Everybody was so happy. It was like a feast day. The pain of separation was transformed into the joy of reunion and meeting all of a sudden.
Hz. Yusuf made his parents rest there for a while. They talked to one another for a long time. Then Hz. Yusuf took the family of Yaqub to Egypt. He prepared a room for his parents in the palace. He arranged appropriate places for his brothers to stay.
After they settled, Hz. Yusuf sat on the throne of ministry. All of the brothers prostrated before him to show their respect.120
This prostration was not prostration of worship. At that time, it was regarded normal to prostrate before somebody other than Allah as a sign of respect and greeting.
When Yusuf saw this scene, his childhood appeared before his eyes. He was saved by a caravan from the well he was thrown into. Then, he was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave. After he was brought up in the palace of the Aziz of Egypt, he was sent to prison because he did not surrender to Zulaykha’s desires. He lived in prison for 12 years though he was innocent. However, he changed the prison from a place of torture to a worshipping place and school for him and the other prisoners.
Afterwards, he was saved from prison thanks to his interpretation for the king and it became clear that he had been imprisoned unjustly. Then, he became a minister of the king and the Aziz of Egypt.
Now, his brothers were prostrating before him and asking forgiveness from him. Thus, the dream he had seen when he was a child came true.
Hz. Yusuf could not help telling his father about his feelings and thoughts:
"O Dad! The dream I had seen and told you about came true.” Then, he said,
"After my Lord saved me from prison, He made me a minister in Egypt. Satan had separated me from my brothers through his tricks. He caused us to live separately for so many years. However, Allah brought us together again. He transformed hatred into love.
There is no doubt that He knows everything. When He wants something to happen, He creates the causes for it and it happens. There is wisdom in all of His deeds. He does not do anything without a reason. All of the things that happened are from His grace and mercy.”121
Neither severe sorrow nor endless joy caused Yusuf to act insensibly. Nothing changed his solemnity and calmness. When he was given the news that he would be saved from prison, he did not try to go out of prison happily. He acted sensibly and proved his innocence first.
When he united with his family again, he acted in the same careful and solemn manner. When he mentioned the favors of Allah, he started by mentioning that he was saved from prison. He did not mention being saved from the well so as not to offend his brothers.
Thus, he teaches us kindness and good manners.
Hz. YAQUB’S DEATH
Hz. Yaqub finally met his beloved son, Yusuf, again after a long and troublesome life. He started to live happily in the palace of Hz. Yusuf, who was the Aziz of Egypt.
However, the worldly life is bound to end no matter how happy and long it is. Azrail, who is the herald of this end, arrived for Yaqub after a happy life of 24 years with all his family in Egypt. Hz. Yaqub was spending the last minutes of his life. He summoned all of his sons and asked them,
"Oh my sons! What will ye worship after me?”
"We shall worship your God and the God of your fathers―of Ibrahim, Ismail and Ishaq―the one true God, to Him we bow in Islam. We do not recognize anybody except Him as God.”122
Thus, Hz. Yaqub was dying after fulfilling what he had said, He got the same promise out of his sons when he became a prophet and when he was about to die; he wanted them to die only as Muslims.
Hz. Yaqub asked his sons to bury him next to Hz. Ishaq, his father. When he died, Hz. Yusuf buried him next to the grave of his grandfather, Ishaq, near Damascus.123
Hz. YUSUF’S WISH TO DIE
God Almighty enabled Yusuf to attain such a high post after undergoing so many troubles. Troublesome days alone in a dark well; a tiring life in the palace, long years in prison, living away from his father and brothers. However, all of them were over now.
Finally, Hz. Yusuf became the Aziz of Egypt and met his parents and brothers again. Hz. Yusuf was the ruler of Egypt and he had access to almost anything with the permission of his Lord. It was clear that man could attain high posts and happiness only after troubles and misfortunes. Hz. Yusuf himself was an example.124
Throughout his life, Hz. Yusuf never stopped showing patience when he was in difficulty and never stopped thanking and praising Allah when he was happy. Allah gave him the administration of Egypt, a very big country. He served His slaves for His sake there. When his organs were busy with other things, his heart was always with Allah.
Probably, there was nobody happier than Yusuf in the world at that time. He was responsible for the administration of a large country and he had reunited with his brothers and relatives. He had a life like Paradise in the world. However, despite this, he opened his hands and started to beg Allah with a moving voice as follows:
"O my Lord! You gave me this property and sultanate. You taught me the knowledge and wisdom that increased my honor and prestige. I have had the greatest thing in the world. I have understood that the world life is like a dream that will come true later.
O Creator of the skies and the earth! You are my friend and owner in the world and the hereafter. Take my soul as a Muslim and unite me with the righteous in the hereafter like my ancestors. Happiness will be completed only by this.”125
DEATH OF HZ. YUSUF
God Almighty accepted this sincere prayer of Hz. Yusuf and took his soul. The realm of grave became very happy but Egypt began to mourn. He was 120 years old when he died.
People disagreed about where to bury Hz. Yusuf. Everybody regarded it as an honor to have his body in their own land. Finally, they buried him in a marble coffin on the route of the River Nile. Thus, he would give honor to everybody who used to water of the Nile.126
THE WISDOM BEHIND HZ. YUSUF’S WISH TO DIE
The following is stated in the Quran: “There is, in their (prophet's) stories instruction for men endued with understanding.”127 Badiuzzaman Said Nursi explains an elevated, subtle, happy, and miraculous point of the verse (Take my soul [at death] as one submitting, to Your will [as a Muslim], and unite me with the righteous) announcing that the story of Hz. Yusuf, the best of stories, is coming to an end as follows:
"The sorrows and pains of death and separation at the end of other happy stories, make bitter the pleasure the imagination has received from the story, and destroy it. Especially if they tell of death and separation just when recounting the moment of perfect joy and happiness, this is even more painful and causes those listening to cry out in sorrow.
However, although this verse tells of Hz. Yusuf 's death just at the most brilliant part of his story, when he is Ruler of Egypt, united with his mother and father, fondly meeting with his brothers, and is experiencing the greatest happiness and joy of this world, it does so in such a way as to say:
Hz. Yusuf himself asked for his death from Almighty God in order to experience an even more happy and brilliant state; and he did die and did receive that happiness. That is to say, there is beyond the grave a happiness and joy greater than the pleasurable happiness of this world, so that while in that most pleasurable worldly situation, a truth-seeing person like Hz. Yusuf wished for bitter death, and so to receive that other happiness.
And so, see this eloquence of the All-Wise Qur'an, in what way it announces the end of the story of Joseph. It causes not sorrow and regret to those listening to it, but gives good tidings and adds further joy. It also gives guidance, saying: Work for beyond the grave, for it is there that true happiness and pleasure will be found. It also points out Joseph's exalted veraciousness, saying: even the most brilliant and joyful situation of this world did not cause him to become heedless; it did not captivate him; he still wanted the Hereafter.”128
* * *
After the death of Hz. Yusuf, a revolution occurred in Egypt. The sovereignty of Egypt was transferred from Amaliqas to the Pharaohs. Children of Israel lived under the sovereignty of the Pharaohs for a long time. They stayed there up to the time of the prophethood of Hz. Musa (Moses).
STORIES AND NICE SAYINGS ABOUT HZ. YUSUF
During the years of drought and famine in Egypt, Hz. Yusuf used to eat once in three days. They asked him,
"Why do you eat only once in three days though you have the keys to all of the cereal storehouses in the country?” He answered as follows:
"If I were full, how could I understand the mood of the hungry people?” 129
* * *
When Hz. Yaqub met Hz. Yusuf again, he asked Yusuf,
"What happened to you after you left me?" Hz. Yusuf said,
"Do not ask me about what my brothers did to me. Ask me about the grace and grants of Allah."130
* * *
When Hz. Yusuf stayed in prison for a long time, he prayed Allah mentioning his situation, God Almighty sent him the following revelation:
"O Yusuf! You imprisoned yourself. You yourself said, “The prison is more to my liking.” If you had said, "Welfare is more to my liking", you would have been given welfare."131
Indicating this subtlety, the Prophet said,
"Misfortunes come after words.”132
* * *
According to a narration, Allah said to Yaqub,
"Do you know why I separated your son from you?" Yaqub said
"I do not know." Allah said,
"You said to your sons, 'I fear that you will leave Yusuf somewhere while playing and a wolf will eat him.' You thought about their heedlessness but you did not remember that I was going to protect him. I separated Yusuf from you because of forgetting it."
Allah asked again,
"Do you know why I gave Yusuf back to you?" Yaqub said,
"I do not know." Allah said,
"When you lost your second son after Yusuf, you relied on me and said,
'Maybe Allah will bring them (back) all to me (in the end).' (Yusuf, 83)
And you said,
'O my sons! go and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah's Soothing Mercy.' (Yusuf, 87) Therefore, I gave him back to you."133
* * *
Hatam al-Asam said, “Allah will show four people as examples and evidence to men:
To the rich, Hz. Sulayman,
To the poor, Hz. Isa (Jesus)
To slaves, Hz. Yusuf,
To the ill, Hz Ayyub.” 134
* * *
According to a narration, after believing in Allah and marrying Yusuf, Zulaykha started to worship during day and night. His metaphorical love to Yusuf was transformed into real love, love of Allah. She worshipped so much that she did not even go to bed with Yusuf. She said, “I loved you without knowing Allah. After I found Him, I am not interested in anybody else anymore.”
Yusuf called her to bed and said, “This call of me is also an order of Allah. My Lord told me that I would have two sons who will be prophets from you.” Thereupon, Zulaykha said, “Since it is the order of Allah, I will obey His order.”135 Then, she accepted Hz. Yusuf’s call.
* * *
According to a narration, when Hz. Yusuf was appointed as the minister of the Treasure and he was about to set off for a business journey with a caravan of twelve thousand people with notables of Egypt, Zulaykha, the wife of Aziz, stopped before them and said, “Glory be to Allah, who makes a king a slave due to his disobedience and makes a slave a king due to his obedience; Ambition and lust relegate a king to the level of a slave; patience and taqwa elevate a slave to the level of a king,” Thereupon, Hz Yusuf said, “This is the truth. He that is righteous and patient, never will Allah suffer the reward to be lost, of those who do right.” (Yusuf, 90) 136
* * *
LESSONS TO BE TAKEN FROM THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET YUSUF
There are many lessons to be taken from the life of Prophet Yusuf. We will mention some of them briefly:
1. Lesson of chastity: The Prophet Yusuf had the feeling of chastity at the highest level. Therefore, he refused the attractive proposals of Zulaykha. He even preferred to go to prison and suffer tortures in order to protect his chastity.
2. Lesson of fidelity and loyalty: The Prophet Yusuf's rejection of Zulaykha’s desires also shows hisfidelity and loyalty. He never thought of betraying the Aziz of Egypt, in whose palace he stayed and who gave him food and did him favors. He was always loyal to him.
3. Lesson of patience: The life of Prophet Yusuf is an exemplary lesson showing the virtue of patience.
Hz. Yusuf resisted the chain of troubles he encountered in his life with patience; eventually, he was elevated to the palace from prison and attained success and happiness.
4. Lesson of encouraging doing favors: The life of the Prophet Yusuf also contains examples of encouraging people to do favors and mentioning the effects of favors in attaining worldly and otherworldly bliss.
5. Lesson of pardoning: Another great lesson to be taken from the life of the Prophet Yusuf is to pardon those who wronged you, to show tolerance to them and to do them favors.
6. Mysteries in dreams: An important part of the chapter of Yusuf is about the dream Yusuf had, and his interpretations about dreams of the prisoners and the king. In some verses, the Quran attracts attention to the fact that there are many veiled truths in dreams and sleep.
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi makes the following explanation regarding the issue:
"According to an authentic hadith, one of the forty constituents of prophethood was manifested in the form of true dreams during sleep. This means that true dreams are both truth and they are connected with the functions of prophethood.
Dreams are of three sorts. Two of these, in the words of the Quran, are "a confused medley of dreams"; included among these, they are not worth interpreting. If they have any meaning, it is of no importance. Either due to an ailment, the power of imagination mixes things up and depicts them in accordance with the person's sickness, or the imagination recalls some stimulating event which occurred to the person that day, or previously, or even at the same time a year or two earlier, and it modifies and depicts it, giving it some other form. This sort too is a confused medley of dreams, and not worth interpreting.
The third sort is true dreams. With the senses that bind man to the Manifest World and roam on that world resting and ceasing their activity, the Dominical subtle faculty in man's essential nature finds a direct relation with World of the Unseen and opens up a window onto it. Through that window, it looks on events whose occurrence is being prepared; it encounters the manifestations of the Preserved Tablet and one of the types of samples of the missives of Divine Determining; it sees some true occurrences. Sometimes the imagination governs in those occurrences, dressing then in the garments of form. There are numerous types and levels of this sort of dream. Sometimes they turn out exactly as dreamed; sometimes they turn out slightly concealed, as though under a fine veil; and sometimes they turn out heavily veiled.
It is narrated in hadiths that the dreams the Most Noble Prophet (pbuh) had at the outset of the Revelations turned out as true and clear as the breaking of morning.
* * *
Thus, ordinary people may manifest a sort of sainthood so that like the saints, they dream of things pertaining to the Unseen and the future in true dreams. Yes, for ordinary people sleep may be like a degree of sainthood in respect of true dreams, and so too for everyone it is a fine and splendid Dominical cinema. However, those with good morals think good thoughts, and one with good thoughts dreams of good things. Whereas since those with bad morals think bad thoughts, and they dream of bad things.
Furthermore, for everyone, true dreams are a window in the Manifest World looking; onto the World of the Unseen. For restricted and transitory human beings, they are also an arena of infinite proportion manifesting a sort of eternity, and a place for gazing on the past and the future as though they were the present. And they are a resting place for beings with spirits who are crushed beneath the responsibilities of life suffering great hardship.”138
1M. H. Yazır, 1, 499.
2Israil is a noun consisting of "Isra", which means a slave, purity, human or migrant and "il", which means Allah. Then, it means slave of Allah or purity of Allah. There are also some scholars who say that it means soldier or warrior of Allah, or a leader who makes jihad together with Allah. (Tabbara, 183)
3see al-Baqara, 136.
4M. H. Yazır, IV, 2851.
5M. Vehbi, VII, 2563.
6M. Vehbi, VI, 2466.
8Çantay, I, 349.
10Çantay, I, 349.
15Mahmud Hakkı, Hz. Yusuf, 20.
18Çantay, I, 347, footnote 11.
19Yusuf, 13; Çantay, I, 347.
24M. Vehbi, VI, 2476.
26Çantay, I, 349.
27Yusuf, 19; M.Vehbi, VI, 2478.
(*)Hykskos means “Shepherd Kings” Some historians describe them as Arabs and others as Phoenicians.
29H. Yazır, IV, 2853.
30Kısas-ı Enbiya, I, 23.
31H. Yazır, IV, 2853; M. Vehbi, VI, 2481.
33It is stated in the verse that Hz. Yusuf was protected from the influence of Zulaykha by "the evidence of his Lord". Tafsir scholars mention several narrations about what this evidence was. One of them is that the image of Hz. Yaqub, Yusuf's father, who was in Kanan, appeared suddenly in front of Hz. Yusuf. (see İşarâtü’l-İ’câz, p. 215; Muhammed Hamdi Yazır, ibid, IV/2872). This incident, which occurred as a miracle of Hz. Yusuf, takes place thanks to technological means today. Pictures and visions can be shown anywhere through television.
40M. Vehbi, ibid, VI, 2493-94.
41M. Vehbi, ibid, VI, 2494.
45M.Vehbi, ibid, VI, 2499.
47Çantay, I, 353.
51M. Vehbi, ibid, VI, 250.
53Hz. Yusuf received revelation a few times before he entered prison. However, it is not known whether the duty of prophethood and conveying the message started or not before he entered prison. There is no clear information regarding the issue in the Quran, where the story of Hz. Yusuf is narrated in detail. However, it is seen that he fulfills the duty of prophethood and conveying the message openly beginning from his life in prison.
59Çantay, I/355; Bilmen, III/1566-1567; M. Vehbi, VI/2511.
61Yusuf, 44; M. Vehbi, VI, 2512.
63Yusuf, 47-49. The phrase "leave them in the ear" included in the verse completely complies with the findings of modern technology today. If the wheat is kept in the ear when it is stored, it will be protected from the harms of the weather and other disasters. Besides, all of the properties of the food are preserved. How could Muhammad (pbuh) know about these scientific facts that he brought from his Lord? They are not written in the Torah; so it cannot be said that he took them from it. Only that statement is a scientific miracle of the Quran stating that Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) is a true prophet. (Tabbara, ibid, 204)
65Yusuf, 51. The things that happened to Hz. Yusuf was due to Zulaykha. He was right to get angry with her and to tell the king what she had done. However, he was not carried away by his feelings and asked the king to question the women who cut their hands, not Zulaykha. Thus, the issue would be settled in an impartial way.
This act shows how Yusuf was away from being sentimental and how reasonable and fair he was.
66Tajrid, IX, 141.
69M. Vehbi, ibid, VII, 2539-41.
70C. Paşa, ibid, I, 23.
71Bilmen, III, 1577-1611.
72Abdul-Afif Tabbara, ibid, 207-208. Safinat Fuayni is an Egyptian phrase. It means life food or the food of living beings. Some scholars interpret it as the savior of the realms. Yusuf was given this name because he saved people from death by storing wheat for the years of drought to come.
73M. Vehbi, VII, 2345.
77Yusuf, 62; Bilmen, III, 1581.
86M. Vehbi, VII, 2563.
87Yusuf , 78-79.
91M. Vehbi, VII/2570-2571.
93M. Vehbi, VII/2569.
94Yusuf, 84. Hz. Yaqub's intense love and compassion toward Yusuf could not be understood; so, he was criticized by his own children; besides, Islamic scholars found it necessary to express some thoughts indicating that this compassion and love was legitimate.
The best and reasonable explanation about the issue is made by Badiuzzaman Said Nursi:
The intense and brilliant emotion the Prophet Yaqub felt for Yusuf was not love or passion, but compassion. For compassion is much sharper and more brilliant and elevated, and purer and more worthy of the rank of prophethood than love and passion. If the love and passion for metaphorical objects of love and creatures are intense, they are not fitting for the elevated rank of prophethood. This means Yaqub's feelings, which the All-Wise Qur’an describes with brilliant, glittering eloquence, and which were the means to attaining to the Name of All-Compassionate, were a high degree of compassion. As for passionate love, which is the means of attaining to the Name of All-Loving, it concerns the matter of Zulaykha’s love for Joseph Yusuf. That is to say, however much higher the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition shows Yaqub’s emotions to be than Zulaykha’s, compassion is seen to be more elevated than passionate love to that degree. My master, Imam Rabbani, did not consider metaphorical love to be altogether fitting for the rank of prophethood and therefore said: “Joseph’s virtues were virtues pertaining to the Hereafter, so love for him was not of a metaphorical kind so that it should have been defective.” But I say: “Master! That is an artificial interpretation, the truth of the matter must be this: that was not love, but a degree of compassion which was a hundred times more brilliant, more extensive, and more elevated than love.” Yes, in all its varieties, compassion is subtle and pure. Whereas many varieties of love and passion may not be condescended to.
Furthermore, compassion is extremely broad. Through the compassion he feels for his child, a person’s compassion encompasses al1 young and even all living beings, and acts as a sort of mirror to the comprehensiveness of the Name of All-Compassionate. Whereas passionate love restricts its gaze to its beloved and sacrifices everything, for it. Or else to elevate and praise its beloved, it denigrates others, and in effect insults them and abuses their honor. For example, one said: “The sun saw my beloved’s beauty arid was embarrassed. In order not to see it, it veiled itself in cloud.” Lover, fine sir! What right do you have to impute shame to the sun, which is a light-filled page of eight Greatest Names?
Moreover, compassion is sincere, it does not want anything in return; it is pure and seeks nothing in exchange. The self-sacrificing unselfish compassion of animals for their young, at the most common degree even, is evidence for this. Passionate love, however, desires remuneration and seeks return. The weepings of passionate love are a sort of demanding, or desiring remuneration.
Thus, Yaqub's compassion, the most brilliant light of the chapter of Yusuf - the most brilliant chapter of the Quran points to the Names of Merciful and Compassionate. It informs us that the way of compassion is the way of mercy. And as a salve for the pain of compassion, it causes a person to utter " Fallahu khayrun hafizan wa huwa arhamu’r-rahimin (But Allah is the best to take care (of him), and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy). (Mektûbat. 27-28).
100Yusuf, 90; M. Vehbi, VII, 2577.
103M. H. Yazır, IV, 2914.
104Çantay, I, 362; M. Yazır, IV, 2913.
106M. Vehbi, VII/2580.
107M. Vehbi, VII/2580.
109see İşaratü’l-İ’caz, p.239.
111Muhammed Hamdi Yazır, ibid, IV/2920.
116M. Vehbi, VII/2584; Muhammed Hamdi Yazır, IV/2923.
117Kısas-ı Enbiya, I, 26.
118M. Vehbi, VII/2585.
119M. Yazır, IV, 2925
120Yusuf, 99; M. Vehbi, VI/2459.
123Bilmen, III/1611; Çantay, I/365; M. Hamdi Yazır, IV/2928.
126Çantay, I/365; Bilmen, III/1611.
129H. Cisri, Risale-i Hamidiye, 127. For a research about the years of drought in Egypt, see Sur, Ali Gürbüz, Issue 284, p. 48-49.
130Mawardi, Adabu’d-Dunya, wa’d-Din, 184.
131ibid, 472. When Hz. Yusuf was asked to commit adultery, he preferred going to prison to committinh such a deed and said, “O my Lord! the prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me.” (Yusuf, 33)
134Ihya, IV, 244.
135Ihya, IV, 595.
136Ihya, III, 151.
137Ihya, III, 235-236.
- Prophet Yaqub [Jacob] (Peace be upon him)
- Did Hz. Yusuf (Joseph) have any children? If, yes, what are their names?
- How did Hz. Yaqub manage to show so much patience? How did he manage to continue praying though Yusuf was eaten by a wolf?
- Will you summarize the life of Hazrat Yusuf?
- How can it fit a prophet (Hz. Yaqub) to cry for forty years because of being separated from his son (Hz. Yusuf)? Would it not have been better if he had shown patience?
- What is the real nature of the prostration before Hz. Yusuf mentioned in verse 100 of the chapter of Yusuf?
- Are there any hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about Hz. Yusuf?
- Is it not contrary to equality that Hz. Yaqub loved his son Hz. Yusuf more than his other sons?
- When Hz. Yusuf (Joseph) became an administrator in Egypt, had he started the duty of prophethood? Did he decree based on the laws of Allah when he was the prime minister in Egypt?
- In some verses, it is stated that "ghayb (the unseen, the unknown) cannot be known by anyone except Allah. How can it be explained under the light of these verses that some prophets and saints give news about the future?