By: Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Delivered at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
When the brothers of Prophet Yusuf (a.s) heard their father’s response and reference to his sorrow for the loss of Prophet Yusuf (a.s), their response is narrated in Verse 85 which says:
قَالُوا تَاللَّهِ تَفْتَؤَأُ تَذْكُرُ يُوسُفَ حَتَّي تَكُونَ حَرَضاً أَوْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْهَالِكِينَ
“They said: By Allah, you will not cease remembering Yusuf until you become fatally ill or become of those who perish.”
Prophet Ya’koob (a.s) responds to his sons by basically asking them what is their concern with his sorrow? He is not complaining to them, but to Allah.
Verse 86 thus says:
قَالَ إِنَّمَآ أَشْكُوا بَثّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَي اللَّهِ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لا تَعْلَمُونَ
“He said: I complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know.”
It’s important to remember this when a believer is faced with difficulty to only turn to Allah to who you express your pain.
He further indicated to the brothers that he could see into the future that something positive awaits them after all the misery which is something they could not see. He knew that Prophet Yusuf (a.s) was alive and what the brothers did. Furthermore he was waiting for the fulfilment of the dream when everyone will perform sujood to Prophet Yusuf (a.s).
PROPHET YA’KOOB (a.s) SENDS THEM BACK TO LOOK FOR PROPHET YUSUF (a.s)
Verse 87 says:
يَا بَنِيَّ اذْهَبُوا فَتَحَسَّسُوا مِن يُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ وَلا تَيْأَسُوا مِن رَّوْحِ اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لا يَيْأَسُ مِن رَوْحِ اللَّهِ إِلاَّ الْقَوْمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
“O my sons, go and find out about Yusuf and his brother and despair not of the relief from Allah. Indeed, no one despairs of the relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.”
“Tahassus” refers to seeking for good matters and “tajassus” refers to seeking for bad things like spying.
Prophet Ya’koob (a.s) uses the word “tahassasu” telling them to seek for him in a good manner.
‘Ruh” and “Roah” basically mean the same, though “ruh” means “soul” and “Roah” means “comfort.” When you find something that you look for, your soul feels comfort or relief.
Prophet Ya’koob (a.s) is thus saying that one should never lose hope in the “relief” from Allah.
The narrations state that the economic situation became worse in Qan’aan due to the drought. Prophet Ya’koob (a.s) thus told his sons to go to Egypt once more to look for food, but this time, in addition to finding food, they should try to find Prophet Yusuf (a.s).
This was undoubtedly a strange request to find their brother that they lost 40 years ago, in normal terms this would be impossible. But due to having hope in the Mercy of Allah, one can still solve a problem after so many decades.
PROPHET YUSUF (a.s) REVEALS HIS IDENTITY
Verse 88 says:
فَلَمَّا دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ قَالُوا يآ أَيُّهَا الْعَزِيزُ مَسَّنَا وَأَهْلَنَا الضُّرُّ وَجِئْنَا بِبِضَاعَةٍ مُّزْجَاةٍ فَاَوْفِ لَنَا الْكَيْلَ وَتَصَدَّقْ عَلَيْنَآ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَجْزِي الْمُتَصَدّقِينَ
“So when they entered upon Yusuf, they said, O Azeez, adversity has touched us and our family, and we have come with goods poor in quality, but give us full measure, and be charitable to us. Indeed Allah rewards the charitable.”
The brothers thus travelled back to Egypt and when entering upon Prophet Yusuf (a.s), they expressed themselves in the most humiliated fashion as they were at their lowest point. Times were so bad that they brought their most basic merchandise but still expected his kindness to get their full measure by being charitable to them. Though they could not pay him back or reward him, they told him that he will still be rewarded by Allah.
Narrations state that since their situation was hopeless as they had no food, or money to purchase the food and had a record of having supposedly been thieves, Prophet Ya’koob (a.s) assisted them by writing a letter on their behalf and instructing them to give it to the king. In this letter Prophet Ya’koob (a.s) wrote:
“Peace on you O king of Egypt, you are very kind, generous and caring and attended to my children last time and the one before that. Kindly once more consider our difficult situation. Furthermore, the story that my son stole from you is not true. We are children of Prophets and thus do not steal.”
When the brothers reached Prophet Yusuf (a.s) and was presented with the letter, he read its contents and started to cry as he saw the writing of his father and he kissed the letter and rubbed it over his eyes.
The brothers were surprised at this expression of emotion. It is at this point that they uttered the words which are captured in Verse 88 as quoted above.
This was the right moment for Prophet Yusuf (a.s) to break the news!
Prophet Yusuf (a.s) then turned to them and asked the following question which is narrated in Verse 89:
قَالَ هَلْ عَلِمْتُم مَّا فَعَلْتُم بِيُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ إِذْ أَنتُمْ جَاهِلُونَ
“Do you know what you did with Yusuf and his brother when you were ignorant?”
The brothers looked at him in utter shock when posed with this question! How does this person know Prophet Yusuf (a.s) and his brother? And look at the choice of words that Prophet Yusuf (a.s) uses to pose his question. He does not tell them that they were oppressors, but appeals to their conscience to realise for themselves that they were wrong. He even says that they did not do it deliberately but out of ignorance. How more generous could he be?!
With the culmination of all of these factors, the brothers started to realise that they were speaking to Prophet Yusuf (a.s). Narrations state that at this point Prophet Yusuf (a.s) smiled, and when they saw his teeth they recognised it and all his features.
Verse 90 thus says:
قَالُوا أَءِنَّكَ لأَنتَ يُوسُفُ قَالَ أَنَاْ يُوسُفُ وَهَذآ أَخِي قَدْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَيْنَآ إِنَّهُ مَن يَتَّقِ وَيَصْبِرْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُـحْسِنِينَ
“They said: Are you indeed Yusuf? He said: I am Yusuf and this is my brother! Allah has certainly favoured us. Indeed, he who fears Allah and is patient, then indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of the good doers.”
After introducing himself, Prophet Yusuf (a.s) is immediately thankful to Allah who has been kind to him. This is one of the beauties of Awliya Allah that they see beauty in difficulty.
In Karbala we also see Lady Zainab (a.s) respond in a similar manner when she says that on the plains of Karbala she only saw beauty, even though her family was massacred.
Prophet Yusuf (a.s) explains that Allah was kind with him due to his taqwa and sabr and the reward of good doers is never lost.
Verse 91 says:
قَالُوا تَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ ءَاثَرَكَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْنَا وَإِن كُنَّا لَخَاطِئِينَ
“They said: By Allah, certainly has Allah preferred you over us, and indeed we have been sinners.”
The response of the brothers of Prophet Yusuf (a.s) was to now admit their fault. And they then expected Prophet Yusuf (a.s) to rightfully take revenge against them for what they did to him. But he does none of that.
Verse 92 thus says:
قَالَ لاَ تَثْرِيبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ يَغْفِرُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
“He said: No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you; and He is the Most Merciful of the Merciful.”
After having admitted they fault, Prophet Yusuf (a.s) forgives them so quickly! How more magnanimous can you get? And while he forgave them, he said Allah will also forgive them. Thus both the rights of people and the rights of Allah were fulfilled in this way.
Prophet Yusuf (a.s) teaches us that when Allah gives you victory, the appreciation that one shows for this to Allah is to forgive one’s enemies. There is no need for punishment under these circumstances and taking revenge. This is the spirit of Islam expressed in this sublime example.
After Prophet Yusuf (a.s), our Prophet Muhammad (sawa) also showed us the same spirit in the conquest of Mecca. He forgave his enemies as he achieved victory.
Ibn Abbas says that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) held onto the Ka’ba and said “All praise is due to Allah whose promise is true” and looked at the people and said “O leaders of Quraish, what do you think I am going to do to you today?” They said “You are a generous brother and the son of a very generous brother.” They called him a “brother” and were indirectly referring to Prophet Yusuf (a.s) who forgave his brothers in history. Prophet Muhammad (sawa) said to them “I say what my brother Yusuf said: There is no blame on you today. You are all forgiven.”
One of the companions who heard this announcement said he started to perspire as they thought they will be able to take revenge on that day.
Verse 93 says:
اذْهَبُوا بِقَمِيصِي هَذَا فَاَلْقُوهُ عَلَي وَجْهِ أَبِي يَأْتِ بَصِيراً وَأْتُونِي بِاَهْلِكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
“Take this, my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father; he will become seeing. And bring me your family, all together.”
Prophet Yusuf (a.s) said to his brother Yahuda who was the one who once upon a time brought the false news to their father that Prophet Yusuf (a.s) was eaten by the wolf that he should be the one to take the news to their father that Prophet Yusuf (a.s) was alive!