Is it not contrary to equality that Hz. Yaqub loved his son Hz. Yusuf more than his other sons?

The Details of the Question

- Why did Hz. Yaqub love Hz. Yusuf more than his other sons?
- Yes, he knew that he would be a prophet but was it not necessary for him to treat all of his sons equally?
- Although he knew that Hz. Yusuf’s separation from him was a test, why did he reprimand his children and sound as if he hated them?
- If his sons had told him about the place of Hz. Yusuf, the test would have been broken. Hz. Yusuf would not have been the prime minister of Egypt. Hz. Yaqub was a prophet. Was he not supposed to know them?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- Hz. Yakub is a prophet but he is also a father as a human being. Every father may love some of their children more than others -due to some merits of them. The difference of this natural love, which is a reflex of the heart, is not a fault.

As a matter of fact, men are asked “to be fair and just as between women" in the Quran but it is emphasized that equality in love is not possible. (see an-Nisa, 4/129)

Similarly, treating one’s children justly is one thing and loving some of them more is another thing.

- Hz. Yaqub’s being fond of Hz. Yusuf more is compassion rather than love. Love includes jealousy and can prevent others but compassion includes vast mercy and is enough for everybody.

Accordingly, Hz. Yakub’s loving Hz. Yusuf more means showing him more compassion, which does not prevent his compassion toward his other children.

- Let us listen to this fact from Badiuzzaman Said Nursi:

“Imam Rabbani, did not consider worldly love to be altogether fitting for the rank of prophethood and therefore said: ' Joseph’s virtues pertained to the hereafter, so love for him was not of a worldly kind that it should have been defective.' But I say: Master! That is an artificial interpretation, the truth of the matter must be this: Jacob’s was not love but a degree of compassion a hundred times more brilliant, more extensive, and more elevated than love.' Yes, in all its varieties, compassion is subtle and pure, while many sorts of love and passion may not be condescended to.” (see Nursi, Mektubat, p. 31)

- Hz. Yaqub’s excessive keenness on Hz. Yusuf became manifest after he was wronged and oppressed. Before that, he loved him and showed compassion to him very much but he did not neglect his other children.

- There is no expression in the Quran showing that Hz. Yaqub nurtured hatred of his children. Although he believed definitely that they wronged Yusuf, he did not curse them; he only said, “patience is most fitting for me”, taking the testing aspect of the issue into account.  

- As a prophet, he must not know everything because no prophet can know what is unknown unless Allah informs him. Let us listen to the real nature of the issue from Hz. Yaqub:

Jacob was asked: “How did you perceive the odor of Joseph’s shirt from Egypt when you did not see him in the well at Cana’an close by?”

He replied: “This ability is like lightning; sometimes it appears and sometimes it is hidden. Sometimes we are as though seated on the highest spot and can see everywhere, and sometimes we can’t see even the arch of our foot." (see Sâdi-i Şirâzî, Gülistan; Nursi, Mektubat, 52)

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