By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Delivered at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
The greatest favour to mankind is the Holy Quran which was revealed in this Holy Month of Ramadaan. Prophet Muhammad (sawa) said “for everything there is a ‘spring’, and the ‘spring’ of the Quran is the Month of Ramadaan.”
Let us thus pray during this month to fast and to actively read the Quran and benefiting from its message.
This year we will focus on Surah Yusuf which is the 12th chapter of the Quran with 111 verses. This is a Meccan Surah whose contents almost relate in totality (other than the last few verses) to Prophet Yusuf (a.s). The story was reported by previous Divine books as well, but the manner in which the Quran narrates the story is very different to the way it is narrated in other scriptures. Thus the Quran, while recognizing that people “may” have access to some information about Prophet Yusuf (a.s), makes it clear that what Quran is now narrating they do not know. Thus verse 3 of Surah Yusuf says “and you were, before it, among the unaware.”
COMPARISON OF STORY OF PROPHET YUSUF (a.s) IN QURAN AND OTHER SCRIPTURES
There are many elements in the narration of the story of Prophet Yusuf (a.s) in other scriptures, like the Bible or Taurah, which are not appropriate for the personality of a “Prophet” of Allah. And thus based on these inappropriate narrations of the story of Prophet Yusuf (a.s), movies have been made which creates a picture of a romantic love story which is driven by lust.
On the other hand the story narrated by the Quran shows Prophet Yusuf (a.s) as a symbol of purity, chastity, Allah consciousness, self-control of ones desires and surrendering before Allah.
WHY THE WHOLE STORY IS IN ONE SURAH
When reading Quran you notice that the stories of all other Prophets are narrated in different parts of the Quran and not in one place. However the whole story of Prophet Yusuf (a.s) is narrated in one surah. This has many reasons which include:
1. The nature of the story is one that you cannot separate. It must be read from beginning to end as it is interlinked and thus towards the end Prophet Yusuf (a.s) says “this is the dream that I saw, O father, and Allah made it true”. This verse basically takes one back to the start of the story. All the details of the narrated story are basically the materialization of the first dream that Prophet Yusuf (a.s) saw.
2. The Quran is not a book of history and thus does not narrate details of historical events as a principle, but only narrates that part which has a lesson in it. In tafseer one then comes to know what the details were by examining the ahadith in that regard. But every angle of Prophet Yusuf (a.s)’s story has lessons to learn and thus each detail is narrated in the Quran.
CENTRAL MESSAGE OF SURAH YUSUF
Though the lessons we learn in this surah include aspects of Aqeedah (which is common about Meccan surahs) and the major principles of Akhlaaq (Ethics), the central message of this surah is beautifully summarized by Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli as follows:
“There are many important and thought provoking points in this great Surah, but the central message is the following:
If someone has trust in Allah and never deviates his thinking towards the phenomenon that the ‘end justifies the means’, such a person never compromises on principles and thus goes through difficulties, hardships, tests and calamities. From this condition Allah takes his from a state of “humiliation” (zilla), to a state of “dignity/respect” (Izza). As with every difficulty comes ease, verily with every difficulty comes ease (Surah Asr).”
Thus someone who has accepted the “wilayat” (guardianship) of Allah for himself, does not deviate from the path of Allah and knows that the promise of Allah is True and that with every difficulty comes ease.
In the end, Truth is the ultimate winner and this is also the message of Dua Iftitah which we recite every night.