Prophet Yusuf (Introduction)
Prophet Joseph said to his father that he has seen in a dream eleven stars and the sun and the moon prostrating before him. Prophet Jacob warned his son not to mention his dream to his brothers. He has a genuine fear that Prophet Joseph’s ten step-brothers would become more envious of him. They did not bear the moral character worthy of the sons of a Prophet. Prophet Jacob interpreted the dream that Allah will bless Joseph with the full understanding of the problems of life and their solutions and will give him the insight to reach at the reality of every matter. He will become a Prophet. As regards, the dream, the “sun” in it was Prophet Jacob, the “moon” his wife, (Prophet Joseph’s step mother) and the “eleven stars” his eleven brothers.
Evil Plot of Joseph’s Brothers
His brothers consulted amongst themselves and said to one another that Joseph and his brother Benjamin are dearer to their father than themselves, even though we are a band. Benjamin was the real younger brother of Prophet Joseph, and was his junior by many years. Their mother had died at the birth of Benjamin. As Prophet Jacob was leading clannish life, these sons of his expected a preferential treatment from him, but the Prophet thought otherwise. So they remarked that truly their father seems to have lost his balance of mind; otherwise he could not have neglected them, and loved their two younger brothers more than them, for they were strong young men and could stand him in good stead at the time of need while those youngsters were useless as they themselves stood in need of protection. They propose to kill Joseph or throw him somewhere so that their father’s attention should be turned exclusively towards them. At this one of them said, “Don’t kill Joseph; but if you are bent on doing something, cast him into some dark well. May be some caravan passing by will take him out of hit.” After this consultation, they said to their father, “Father, why is it that you do not trust us in regard to Joseph, though we are his sincere well-wishers? Send him with us tomorrow that he may freely eat and enjoy sport: we will take good care of him.” The father replied, “It troubles me that you should take him away with you, for I fear lest a wolf should eat him up, when you are off your guard.” They replied, “If a wolf should eat him up in our company, when we are a band, we shall be worthless people indeed!” When, after persisting like this, they took him away with them, and decided to cast him into a dark well, Allah revealed this to Joseph: “A time will surely come when you will admonish them about this act of theirs; now they do not comprehend its consequences.” Allah was comforting Joseph, and his brothers were unaware of this that a Revelation was being sent to him. They were committing an evil act, but they did not know its future consequences. At night fall they returned to their father, weeping and wailing, and said, “O father! we were absorbed in the running races, and we had left Joseph with our things, when a wolf came and devoured him; but you will never believe us, even though we were truthful”. And (in proof thereof) they had brought his shirt with the false blood upon it. Prophet Jacob got to the bottom of the matter, and told the envious brothers, “Your tale is false and fabricated.” Then he showed “good patience” as a Prophet should and put his trust in the help of God.
Joseph From the Well to Slavery
brothers threw Joseph into the well and went away. Afterwards a caravan came there and pulled
him out and carried him to
A person, Al-‘Aziz,
holding a high office in
Zelicha and Joseph
arrangements for the special training of Prophet Joseph because he had to
perform his Divine Mission in a perverted society, and that too as a ruler and
not as a common man. The All-Powerful
Allah sent him to the house of an officer of a very high rank in
Now the woman in whose house he was began to tempt him, and one day she closed the doors and said, “Come here.” Joseph replied, “May Allah protect me from this! My Lord has given me a good abode: (and should I, then, misbehave like this?) Such workers of iniquity never fare well.” She advanced towards him, and he also would he advanced towards her, had he not perceived his Lord’s argument. Allah inspired him to rouse his conscience to the fact that it was not worthy of him to yield to the temptation by the woman. It was because of Allah’s grace that he could perceive Allah’s inspiration, and save himself from sin, for Allah willed to remove indecency and immodesty from His chosen servant. At last Joseph and she raced towards the door one behind the other and she rent his shirt (pulling it) from behind, and they met her husband at the door. Seeing him, she cried out, “What punishment does the one deserve who shows evil intentions towards your wife? What else than this that he should be put in prison or tortured with painful torment?” Joseph said, “It was she who solicited me.”
It appears that when the master of the house came on the scene, he was accompanied by a person of his wife’s household. When he heard the story of the incident, he made his proposal: “As each of them accuses the other and there is no eye-witness of what happened between the two, the matter should be decided by the help of circumstantial evidence, by examining the condition of Joseph’s shirt.” This is what was implied in the evidence: “If Joseph’s shirt is rent from the front, it means that the Joseph is the aggressor and she has struggled to defend her honor. But if the shirt is rent from the back, it is obvious that he must have been running away from her and she must have been tugging from behind”. The circumstantial evidence implied another thing. As the witness invited the master’s attention to Prophet Joseph’s shirt only, it meant that there was no sign at all of violence on the garments of the woman, for had he been the aggressor, there must have been some signs of violence on her garments. When the husband saw that the shirt was rent from the back, he said, “This is one of your cunning devices: your devices are cunning indeed! Joseph! leave this matter. And, O woman, beg forgiveness for your sin, for you were indeed the wrongdoer.”
The women of the town began to talk about this matter, saying, “The wife of Al-Aziz has been soliciting her young slave, for she has been passionately fallen in love with him. We think that she is manifestly doing the wrong thing.” When she heard about the cunning talk, she invited them to a banquet at her house and gave ready pillows for the party and placed before each of them a knife. The ancient Egyptians used to place pillows and cushions in such feasts for the guests to recline.
Then, (when they were engaged in cutting fruit) she made assign to Joseph, as if to say, “Come out before them.” When they caught sight of him, they were so amazed that they cut their hands, and exclaimed spontaneously, “Good God! He is no man; he is a noble angel!”
Alif Lam Ra - These are the verses of the Book that make its object perfectly clear. We have sent it down as Quran1 in Arabic so that you (Arabs) may understand it well2. O Muhammad, by revealing this Quran to you, We narrate to you events and truths in the best manner: though before this you were utterly unaware (of these things).3 (1-3)
This is the narrative of that time, when Joseph said to his father, “O father, I have seen in a dream eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw that they were prostrating themselves before me.” In response to this, his father said, “My little son, say nothing of this dream to your brothers, lest they should plot any evil scheme against you. 4 Be on your guard, for Satan is the avowed enemy of man. And it will happen so (as you have seen in your dream) that your Lord will choose you (for His work5) and will impart you the full understanding of problems6, and will perfect His blessing upon you and upon the children of Jacob as He perfected it on your forefathers – Abraham and Isaac; surely your Lord is All-Knowing , All-Wise.” 7 4-6
Evil Plot of Joseph’s Brothers
Indeed there are Signs in this story of Joseph and his brothers for these inquirers. This is how the story begins: his brothers (held a consultation and ) said to one another, “This Joseph and his brother8 are dearer to our father than ourselves, even though we are a band. Truly our father seems to have lost his balance of mind.9 Let us therefore kill Joseph or throw him somewhere so that your father’s attention should be turned exclusively towards you. After this, you should again become righteous people.”10 At this one of them said, “Don’t kill Joseph; but if you are bent on doing something, cast him into some dark well. May be some caravan passing by will take him out of hit.” After this consultation, they said to their father, “Father, why is it that you do not trust us in regard to Joseph, though we are his sincere well-wishers? Send him with us tomorrow that he may freely eat and enjoy sport: we will take good care of him.” 11 The father replied, “It troubles me that you should take him away with you, for I fear lest a wolf should eat him up, when you are off your guard.” They replied, “If a wolf should eat him up in our company, when we are a band, we shall be worthless people indeed!” When, after persisting like this, they took him away with them, and decided to cast him into a dark well, We revealed this to Joseph: “A time will surely come when you will admonish them about this act of theirs; now they do not comprehend its consequences.” 12 At night fall they returned to their father, weeping and wailing, and said, “O father! we were absorbed in the running races, and we had left Joseph with our things, when a wolf came and devoured him; but you will never believe us, even though we were truthful”. And (in proof thereof) they had brought his shirt with the false blood upon it. Hearing this, the father said, “No! your evil souls have made this heinous act easy for you. I, however, will bear this patiently with a good grace.13 And Allah alone can be asked for help regarding what you are concocting.”14 12:7-18
Joseph From the Well to Slavery
A caravan came there; they sent their water carrier and he let down his bucket in the well. (Seeing Joseph in it, ) he cried aloud, “Good news! Here is a young lad.” So they hid him as a merchandize, but Allah knew well what they were doing. Then they sold him for a paltry price, a few dirhams. And they did not expect a big price15 for him. 12: 19-20
The person16 who bought him in Egypt said to his wife,17 “Deal kindly with him: may be he proves useful to us, or we adopt him as our son.”18 Thus We made a way for establishing Joseph in the land and arranged to teach him the understanding of affairs.19 Allah does whatever He wills but most people do not understand this.
And when he reached his full maturity, We bestowed on him judgment and knowledge.20 This is how We reward the righteous people.
Zelicha and Joseph
Now the woman in whose house he was began to tempt him, and one day she closed the doors and said, “Come here.” Joseph replied, “May Allah protect me from this! My Lord has given me a good abode: (and should I, then, misbehave like this?) Such workers of iniquity never fare well.”21 She advanced towards him, and he also would he advanced towards her, had he not perceived his Lord’s argument.22 This was so that We may remove indecency and immodesty from him;23 indeed he was one of Our chosen servants. At last Joseph and she raced towards the door one behind the other and she rent his shirt (pulling it) from behind, and they met her husband at the door. Seeing him, she cried out, “What punishment does the one deserve who shows evil intentions towards your wife? What else than this that he should be put in prison or tortured with painful torment?” Joseph said, “It was she who solicited me.” At this a member of the family gave the circumstantial evidence24, saying, “If the shirt of Joseph is rent from the front, the woman speaks the truth and he is a liar. And if his shirt is rent from the back, she speaks a lie and he is truthful.”25 When the husband saw that the shirt was rent from the back, he said, “This is one of your cunning devices: your devices are cunning indeed! Joseph! leave this matter. And, O woman, beg forgiveness for your sin, for you were indeed the wrongdoer.” 12:23-29
The women of the town began to talk about this matter, saying, “The wife of Al-Aziz has been soliciting her young slave, for she has been passionately fallen in love with him. We think that she is manifestly doing the wrong thing.” When she heard about the cunning talk, she invited them to a banquet at her house and gave ready pillows for the party and placed26 before each of them a knife. Then, (when they were engaged in cutting fruit) she made assign to Joseph, as if to say, “Come out before them.” When they caught sight of him, they were so amazed that they cut their hands, and exclaimed spontaneously, “Good God! He is no man; he is a noble angel!” 12:30-31
Joseph’s Decision to Go to Jail
She said, “Well, this is he concerning whom you blamed me. No doubt, I sough to seduce him and he escaped. Yet if he does not yield to my bidding, he shall be cast into prison, and shall be humbled and disgraced.”27 Joseph said, “My Lord! I prefer imprisonment to that which they invite me. If You do ward off their cunning devices from me, I may be caught into their snare, and become one of the ignorant.”28 His Lord granted his prayer and warded off their guile from him.29 Indeed he hears everyone and knows everything. 12:32-34
Then it occurred to them that they should cast him into prison for a time, even though they themselves had seen manifest signs30 (of his innocence and of the guilt of their women).
Joseph’s Time in Prison 12:36-42
Two31 other slaves also entered into the prison along with him.32 One day one of them said, “I have dreamed that I am pressing grapes into wine,” and the other said, “I have dreamed that I am carrying loaves of bread on my head, of which birds are eating.” Then both of them said, “Tell us their interpretations, for we have seen that you are a righteous man.”33 Joseph replied , “I will tell you their interpretations before the food you get comes to you. This ability of making interpretations is a part of the knowledge that my Lord has bestowed on me. The fact is that I do not follow the ways of those people who do not believe in Allah, and deny the Hereafter. I follow the way of my forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: it is not for us to associate anyone with Allah as partner. This is Allah’s bounty upon us and upon all mankind (that He has not made us the servants of any other than Himself), yet most people are not grateful. O my fellow prisoners, say, which is better: various gods or the One Omnipotent Allah? The gods you worship other than Him are nothing more than mere names you and your forefathers have invented, for Allah has sent down no authority for them. Sovereignty belongs to none but Allah. He has commanded that you shall not worship anyone but Him. This is the right and straight Way, but most people do not know this. My fellow prisoners, here are the interpretations of your dreams. One of you will serve wine to his lord (the king of Egypt); as for the other, he shall be crucified and birds will eat of his head. Thus has the matter been decreed whereof you enquired.”34 12:36-41
Then to the one who he thought would be released, Joseph said, “Mention me to your lord (the king of Egypt). But Satan made him so neglectful that he forgot to mention him to his lord and so Joseph remained in the prison for several years.35 12:36-42
The Dream and Interpretation
One day36 the king said, “I saw in a dream seven fat cows whom seven lean cows were devouring. Likewise I saw seven green ears of corn, and seven withered ones. O my courtiers, tell me the interpretations of my dream, if you understand the meanings of dreams.”37 They answered, “These are the results of confused nightmares and we do not understand their meaning.” 12:43-44
Then one of the prisoners who had been released remembered the thing after a long time and said, “I will tell you its interpretation; just send me (to Joseph in the prison.38)
Going to Joseph, he said, “Joseph, O man of righteousness!39 tell me the meaning of the dreams of seven fat cows when whom seven lean cows are devouring, and of seven green ears and seven withered ones. May be I go back to those people and they might understand it”. 40 Joseph answered, “You will cultivate land for seven consecutive years as usual. During this period thrash out of the harvest you reap only that much grain that might suffice for your food and leave the rest in the ears. Then, after this, there shall come upon seven hard years. Then you will eat up all that corn you might have kept for that period except that you will have reserved in the store. After that will come another year in which there will be abundant rainfall in answer to the prayer of the people and they will press (juice and oil).” 41 12:46-49
Joseph’s Innocence Proved
The king said, “Bring him to me.” But when the royal envoy came to him, Joseph said,42 “Go back to your lord and ask him to enquire about the matter of the women who cut their hands. Indeed my Lord has full knowledge of their cunning.” 43
The king questioned the women,44 saying, “What do you say about the incident when you tried to entice Joseph?” They all cried out with one voice, “God protect us! We found no tinge of evil in him.” Then the wife of Al-Aziz also confessed, “Now that the truth has come to light, it was I who tried to entice him. In fact, he is absolutely in the right.” 45
(Joseph said,46 ) “By this enquiry, I meant to let him (Al-Aziz) know that I did not play him false secretly and that Allah does not lead to success the machinations of deceivers. Yet I am not holding my soul to be immune from sin, for the soul incites to evil, except of the one whom my Lord shows mercy. Indeed my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” 12:52-53
Joseph’s High Position
The king said, “bring him to me so that I may attach him exclusively to myself.”
When Joseph has a talk with the king, he said, “From now you have an honorable place with us, and you will enjoy our full confidence.”47 Joseph said, “Please place all the resources of the land under my trust for I know how to guard them and also possess knowledge.”47a
Thus did We give power to Joseph in the land: he had every right to take possession of any piece of it that he desired.48 We bestow our bounty upon anyone We will. We do not let go waste the reward of righteous people; yet the reward of the life in the Hereafter is much better for those who believed and behaved in a God-fearing manner. 49 12:56-57
Joseph Meets His Brothers
Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt and presented themselves before him.50 He recognized them but they did not.51 When he had them given the provisions due to them and they were leaving, he said, “Bring your step-brother to me. Do you not see that I give full measure, and am the best of hosts? But if you do not bring him to me, you shall have no grain from me: nay, you should not even come near me.”52 They re[lied, “We will try our best to persuade his father to send him with us. This we will surely do.” Joseph did this in the hope that, when they would return home to their people, they would come to know of it; may be they should come back again. 12:58-62
The Brothers Return to Cana’an
When they returned to their father, they said, “Dear father, now that corn has henceforth been denied to us, please send our brother with us that we may fetch corn, and we take full responsibility for his safety.” The father replied, “Should I entrust him to you, as I entrusted his brother to you before? Allah is the best guardian and He is the most Merciful.” When they opened their saddle bags, they found that their merchandize has been returned to them. Seeing this, they cried with joy, “Dear father, look here! What more do we desire? Here is our merchandize returned to us. Therefore, we will go back and bring provisions of food for our family; we will take good care of our brother, and obtain an extra camel-load of corn. Such an addition will be mad easily.” Their father replied, “I will never send him with you until you give me a pledge in Allah’s name that you shall bring him back to me unless it be that you are rendered helpless by the circumstances.” When they had given him their solemn pledges, he said, “Note it well that Allah is guarding and watching over this pledge of ours.” Then he said, “O my children, do not enter the capital of Egypt by one gate but go into by different gates.53 However, know it well that I cannot ward off from you Allah’s will for none other than He has any authority whatsoever. In Him, I have put my trust and all who want to rely upon anyone should put their trust in Him alone.” And it so happened that when they entered the city by different gates, as their father had advised the, the precautionary measure proved ineffective against Allah’s will. Of course, Jacob had done his best to avert the fear he had in his heat. Indeed he possessed knowledge because of what We had taught him; but most people do not understand the reality of the matter.54 12:63-68
Joseph Meets Benjamin and the Accusation
When they presented themselves before Joseph, he called his brother alone to himself and said to him, “I am the same brother of yours (who was lost). Now you need not grieve for what they have been doing.” 55 12:69
While Joseph was arranging for the loading of the packs of his brothers, he put his cup in the pack of his own brother.56 Afterwards a herald shouted, “Ho, cameleers! You are thieves.”57 Turning back, they asked, “What is it that you are missing?” The royal servants replied, “We do not find the cup of the king.” (And their headman added), “The one, who would restore it, will be awarded a camel-load of corn. I guarantee this.” The brothers replied, “By God, you know it well that we have not come for spreading disorder in this country, and we are no thieves.” At this, they said, “Very well, what shall be the punishment of the thief, if you are found to be liars?” They replied, “His punishment should be that he himself be made a bondsman, if the thing is found in his pack. At home we punish such offenders like this.”58 Then Joseph first began to search the packs of his step-brothers before searching the pack of his own brother. Thus We supported Joseph with Our plan:59 for it did not behoove Joseph to seize his brother (by the king’s law) except that Allah willed it so.60 We raise high the ranks of those We will, and there is the One Whose knowledge is far greater than the knowledge of all others. 12:70-76
56. In all probability, Prophet Joseph put the cup in his brother’s pack with his knowledge and consent, as may be inferred from the preceding verse. Obviously, Prophet Joseph desired to free his brother from the oppression of the cruel step-brothers and he himself was reluctant to go back with them. But this could not be done directly and openly without disclosing his own identity, which was not then expedient under the circumstances. Therefore both the brothers might have though out this plan, though this would have put the younger brother in an embarrassing situation for the time being because of his involvement in a case of theft. But they had adopted this plan because afterwards both the brothers could clear it easily by disclosing real matter.
57. The cup might have been quietly and secretly put in the pack. Afterwards when the servants did not find it, they might have come to the inevitable conclusion that it must have been stolen by the travelers who were staying there.
58. It should be kept in mind that these people were the descendents of Prophet Abraham. Therefore, they put forward his law regarding a thief, that is, the thief should be made the bondsman of the one whose goods he had stolen.
59. How did Allah directly support Prophet Joseph with His plan? It is obvious that the plan of placing the cup in Benjamin’s pack was thought out and executed by Joseph himself. And it is also obvious that the royal servants checked their packs as a matter of routine for such is the procedure that is generally followed in such occasions. There is nothing in this passage that might be called supernatural support by Allah except that the servants asked the brothers to prescribe the punishment for the thief, and they answered that he should be made a bondsman. The sentence that follows also confirms this interpretation.
60. Had Allah willed it, He would not have removed the flaw in the plan of Prophet Joseph. It was this: he could seize his brother according to his plan only by the help of king’s law, but it was not worthy of a Prophet of Allah to apply that un-Islamic law to his own personal case. Allah made the servants enquire from the brothers (a unusual thing) about the punishment of a thief and they stated the Law of Prophet Abraham. Thus not only was the flaw removed, but also no room was left for the brothers to raise any objection against this on the plea that they were not Egyptians, and therefore, the law of the land could not be applied against them.
At this discovery the brothers remarked, “There is nothing strange in it that he has committed a theft, for his brother (Joseph) also committed a theft before this.”61 Hearing this, Joseph suppressed his feelings and did not reveal the secret to them, but said only this is an under-tone, “What a bad people you are! You are accusing me (to my face) of the thing the truth of which Allah knows best.” 12:77
61. They made this accusation to merely cover the humiliation to which they were put at the discovery of the cup in the pack of their brother. Now that the discovery falsified their claim that they were not thieves, they at once changed their position and disassociated themselves from Benjamin, declaring that he was thief like his brother Joseph. It is obvious that this was a false accusation the clever brothers had invented on the spot. But it is an instance of the malice these brothers bore to their two step-brothers, and is also the answer to the question why Prophet Joseph desired to keep his brother with him.
Then they said, “O exalted sir,62 he was a very aged father: therefore take one of us in his stead. We see that you are a very generous man.” Joseph replied, “God forbid that we should seize any other than the whom we have found with our property63: for, if we do this, we shall be unjust.” 12:78-79
62. It was merely a title used for the high ones in Egypt like “His Excellency” or “Your Excellency”, etc.
63. The use of the word “…with whom we have found our property” instead of the word “thief” is very significant. He placed the cup in the pack of his brother with his consent, but he did not ask his servants to make a search of his pack and accuse him of a theft. After this, when the servants brought the brothers before him as suspects, he quietly rose form his seat and began to make a search of their packs, Then afterwards, when the brothers requested that one of them should be taken instead of Benjamin, he answered them back in their own words that he would detain only that person in whose possession the cup was found and none else.
When they despaired of moving Joseph, the went to a corner and conferred together. The eldest of them said, “You know that your father has taken a solemn pledge for you in the name of Allah, and you also know that you had wronged Joseph before this. I will not, therefore, leave this land until my father gives me permission or Allah decides in my favor, for Allah is the best of all those who decide. Go back to your father and say, “Dear father, your son committed a theft. We did not see him stealing: we are simply stating what we have come to know and we could not guard against the unforeseen. You may enquire form the people of that town and form the caravan in which we traveled back home. We are surely telling the truth.” 12:80-82
The Brothers Confront Jacob
Hearing this story, the father said, “your souls have made another thing easy for you.64 Well, I bear this, too, patiently with a good grace. May be Allah will bring them all to me, for he knows everything and all His works are based on wisdom.” Then he turned his face form them and cried, “Alas for Joseph! – He was sorely oppressed with suppressed sorrow and his eyes had become white with grief. – The sons exclaimed, “By Allah! You have not ceased to think of Joseph and now things have come to such a pass that you will ruin your health or kill yourself with grief for him.” He replied, “I complain to Allah alone of my sorrow and grief. And I know from Allah what you do not know. My children, go and make a search for Joseph and his brother. Don’t despair of Allah’s mercy, for it is the unbelievers alone who despair of His mercy.” 12:83-87
64. That is, “you readily believed that my son, whom I know to be a noble character, had committed the theft of a cup: you have behaved in his case just as you behaved in the case of his elder brother. You made away with him and then pretended, without any pangs of conscience, that a wolf had devoured him and now, with the same ease, you tell me that the other brother has committed a theft.”
Joseph Reveals Himself
When they went back to Egypt and presented themselves before Joseph, they humbly said, “Exalted sir! We and our family are in great distress: though we have been able to bring only goods of scant worth for barter, we request you to give us full measure of grain, and be charitable to us:65 for Allah rewards richly those who are charitable.” At this Joseph, who could contain himself no longer , exclaimed, “Do you know what you did with Joseph and his brother, when you were ignorant?” This took them by surprise and they cried, “Why! Are you indeed Joseph”? He replied, “Yes, I am Joseph, and here is my brother. Allah has been very gracious to us. The fact is that Allah does not let go waste the recompense of such righteous people as practice piety and fortitude.” They said, “by God! Allah has exalted you above us, and we have indeed been sinful.” He replied, “Today no penalty shall be inflicted on you. May Allah forgive you! He is the most Merciful of all. Go, take this shirt of mine, and cast this over my father and he shall recover his sight. Then bring all the members of your family to me.” 12:88-93
65. That is, “it will be charitable if you give us that much grain as we require to fulfill our needs, because the goods we have brought for its barter are of less value than of the grain we require.”
Jacob Learns About Joseph
When this caravan departed (from Egypt), their father said (in Cana’an), “I am surely perceiving the smell66 of Joseph, though you might think me to be in the dotage.” The people of the house answered, “By God, you are still suffering from your old illusion.”67 12:94-95
66. This is the instance of the extraordinary powers the Prophets possess. Prophet Jacob perceived in Cana’an the smell of Prophet Joseph’s shirt form such a distant place as Egypt as soon as the caravan started on the journey. At the same time it also shows, by contrast, that these powers are not inherent or personal characteristics but are bestowed on them by Allah as and when He wills. That is why Prophet could not perceive the smell of the clothes of Prophet Joseph as long as Allah did not will it, when he had been living in Egypt.
67. This remark shows that no member of his family except Prophet Joseph appreciated the true worth of Prophet Jacob. He himself was aware of the low state of their mental and moral condition.
But when the bearer of the good tidings arrived there, he cats Joseph’s shirt on Jacob’s face, and his sight came back to him. Then he said, “Didn’t I say to you that I know from Allah what you do not know?” They exclaimed all together, “Dear father, pray for the pardon of our sins, for we have indeed been sinful.” He replied, “I will implore my Lord to forgive you, for He is Forgiving and Merciful.” 12:96-98
Jacob and Joseph Meet
And when they came to Joseph,68 he seated his parents along with himself and said (to the people of his family), “Now proceed to the city. God willing, you will live in peace.”
68. It is worthwhile to take notice of the total number of Prophet Jacob’s family that migrated to Egypt with him, for it is closely connected with the problem that is raised concerning the total number of the Israelites who emigrated form there some five hundred years after this. According to the Bible, the total number of family members was 70, including Prophet Joseph and his two sons, and excluding those daughters-in-law who did not belong to the family of Prophet Jacob. But according to the census figures in NUMBERS, their number was about two million when they were counted in the wilderness of Sinai in the second year, “after they were come out of the land of Egypt”. It is obvious that no family can multiply to such a large number in five hundred years merely by the generative process. Thus the only other way in which their number would have increased was proselytism.
(After entering the town), he raised parents to the throne,69 and seated them along with himself and all of them spontaneously bowed down before him.70 Joseph said, “Dear father, this is the interpretation of the dream I dreamed long before. My Lord has turned that into reality. It his grace that He took me out the prison and brought you to me from the desert after Satan had stirred up strife between my and my brothers. It is a fact that my Lord fulfills his designs in mysterious ways, for He is All-Knowing, All-Wise. Lord, You have given me kingdom and taught me how to probe into problems. Creator of the earth and heavens! You are my Guardian in this world and the Hereafter: Let me die as a Muslim, and join me with the righteous in the end.”71 12:100-101
69. According to the Talmud, “When Joseph learned that his father was upon the way, he gathered together his friends and officers, and soldiers of the realm, attired in rich garments,… and formed a great company to meet Prophet Jacob on the way and escort him to Egypt.
70. The parents and brothers of Prophet Joseph bowed down before him in accordance with the ancient custom among the people of the age, who used to bow down before others to show their gratitude, or welcome them, or merely to salute them by placing their hand on their breast.
71. The few sentences that were uttered by Prophet Joseph at the happiest occasion of his life depict the most graceful pattern of the virtues of a true Believer. He is grateful to God Who had shown grace to him by raising him to such a high position of power, and for arranging his meeting with his people after such a long period of separation. He does not make even a mention of ill-treatment, but puts up a defense for them, saying that it was all due to Satan, who has stirred up a strife between them: nay, he even puts it forward as blessing in disguise, being one of the mysterious ways of Allah by which He had fulfilled His design of raising him to the throne.