What is the best story mentioned in the Quran?

The Details of the Question

Why is it called the best story? What is the wisdom behind it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The phrase "the best story" is used as “ahsanul-qasas” in the Quran.

Ahsanul-qasas is the life story of Hz. Yusuf (Joseph) narrated in the Quran.

The word qasas mentioned in the phrase ahsanul-qasas in verse 3 of the chapter of Yusuf is a noun meaning “narrating”.

Accordingly, ahsanul-qasas means “the best narrating”. However, since the noun narrating also means narration, the phrase ahsanul-qasas means “the best of the narrations (stories)”.

Hz. Yusuf’s story is different from the stories of other prophets in that it is narrated in a single chapter (chapter of Yusuf) and every detail of it is narrated.

Tafsir scholars interpret the phrase ahsanul-qasas as “the whole of the best incidents that took place in the past” or as “the best narration of an incident that took place in the past”. Abu Mansur al-Maturidi interprets ahsanul-qasas as “the truest story”. Some scholars state that the phrase “the best” means “very interesting”.

Scholars put forward various views about the wisdom behind calling this story “ahsanul-qasas”; some of them are as follows in summary:  

1. No story in the Quran includes so many lessons and wisdoms.

2. Hz. Yusuf showed patience in the face of the maltreatment by his brothers; he forgave them and treated them in the best way.  

3. The story deals with all kinds of beings like angels, humans, jinn, devils and animals along with many kinds of people like prophets, righteous people, scholars, ignorant people, men and women as well as their behaviors; it also deals with basic issues related to religious and worldly affairs like oneness, fiqh, siyar, administration, politics, economy and etiquette.

4. The story includes opposite characters and concepts like the one who envies and the one who is envied, master and slave, the person who witnesses and the one who is witnessed about, the one who loves and the one who is loved, the one who is imprisoned and the one who is released, abundance and scarcity, sinning and forgiveness, separation and reunion, illness and health, and abasement and dignity.

5. It is stated in the story that envy is deprivation, that patience is the key to salvation and that the order is achieved in life when the mind controls feelings.   

It is stated that the story narrated in the chapter of Yusuf is called “ahsanul-qasas” due to the reasons mentioned above and similar ones.

Tabari, Tafsir, XII, 89-90;
Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, Taʾwilatul-Qurʾan, WII, 269;
Ibnul-Jawzi, Zadul-Masir, IW, 178-179;
Qurtubi, Tafsir, IX, 119-120;
Shawkani, Fathul-Qadir, Cairo 1383/1964, III, 4-5;
al-Alusi, Ruhul-Maʿani, XII, 507
Sırrı Paşa, Ahsenü’l-Kasas, Istanbul 1309, I, 8;
Elmalılı, Hak Dini, IV, 2485-2846;
Ö. Nasuhi Bilmen, Büyük Tefsir Tarihi, Istanbul 1973, I, 85-90.

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