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    Period of Revelation and Why Revealed This Surah was revealed during the last stage of the Prophet’s residence at Makkah. It was a time when the Quraish were considering the question of killing, exiling, or imprisoning him. The Jews instigated the unbelievers to test the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by asking him: “Why did the Israelites go to Egypt?” The history of the Israelites was not known to the Arabs, and the Prophet had no means of knowing their traditions. Therefore, they thought that the Prophet would not be able to give a satisfactory answer, and thus, would be totally exposed. But, contrary to their expectations, the tables were turned on them, when Allah revealed the whole story of the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) then and there. To their astonishment, the Prophet recited it to them on the spot. This put the Quraish in a very awkward position because, it not only ruined their scheme, but also warned them by applying the example of Yusuf’s brothers to their case, as if to say, “As you are behaving towards this Prophet, exactly in the same way the brothers of the Prophet Yusuf behaved towards him; therefore, you should expect to meet with the same end.”   Major Issues, Divine Laws, and Guidance:

    • All Rasools were human beings.
    • Yusuf’s prayer to live and die as a Muslim.
    • The faith of Prophets Ibraheem (Abraham), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya’qoob (Jacob) and Yusuf (Joseph), may Allah’s peace be upon them all, was the same as that of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and they invited the people to the same Message to which Muhammad (peace be upon him) was inviting them.
    • Characters molded by Islam (based on the worship of Allah and accountability in the hereafter) are compared to characters molded by disbelief and ignorance (based on the worship of false gods and the material world). Then the addressees are asked to decide for themselves between these two patterns.
    • It is made clear that whatever Allah wills, happens, and no one can defeat His plan or prevent it from happening.
    • The believers are advised to remain within the limits prescribed by Divine Law while pursuing their aims, because success and failure are entirely in the hands of Allah.
    • The believers are advised to exert their efforts towards the Truth and put their trust in Allah. This will help them face their opponents with confidence and courage.
    • Allah taught the believers through this story that one who possesses true Islamic character can conquer the world with the strength of his character. The marvellous example of the Prophet Yusuf shows how a man of high and pure character comes out successful even under the most adverse circumstances.
      Moreover, the revelation of this Surah accomplished the following two objectives:
    1. It provided proof of Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) Prophethood, and that his knowledge was not based on mere hearsay, but was gained through revelation.
    2. It applied the theme of this story to the Quraish and warned them that ultimately the conflict between them and the Prophet would end in his victory over them. As is stated in verse 7: “Indeed there are signs in this story of Yusuf and his brothers for the inquirers (from among the Quraish).”
      In fact, by applying this story to the conflict between the Prophet and the Quraish, the Qur’an had made a bold and clear prophecy which was fulfilled literally by the events that happened in the succeeding ten years. Hardly two years had passed after its revelation when the Quraish, like the brothers of the Prophet Yusuf, conspired to kill the Prophet and forced him to emigrate from Makkah to Al-Madinah, where he gained power similar to that gained by the Prophet Yusuf in Egypt. Again, in the end, the Quraish had to humble themselves before him just as the brothers of the Prophet Yusuf humbly requested, “Show mercy to us for Allah rewards richly those who show mercy,” (Verse 88) and the Prophet Yusuf generously forgave them – though he had complete power to inflict his vengeance upon them. He said: “Today no penalty shall be inflicted on you. May Allah forgive you. He is the greatest of all those who forgive.” (Verse 92) The same story of mercy was repeated when, after the conquest of Makkah, the defeated Quraish stood meekly before the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who had full power to inflict his vengeance upon them for each and every cruelty committed by them. But he merely asked them: “What treatment do you expect from me?” They replied, “You are a generous brother and the son of a generous brother.” At this, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forgave them very generously, saying: “I am giving the same answer to your request that Yusuf gave to his brothers: “Today, no penalty shall be inflicted upon you: you are forgiven.”

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    it is possible that, from a very early age, young Joseph felt that he had a special position in God’s estimation. He had clearly shown certain qualities of leadership. For, although he was the youngest of his brothers, his personality had stood out amongst them and he won their father’s love more than any of them had done. Jacob (Ya¢q‰b), Joseph’s father, inherited religious leadership from his own father, Isaac (Is^¥q), who had inherited it from his father, Abraham (Ibr¥hÏm). Would it be unreasonable to deduce that Joseph would expect to inherit that legacy from his father, Jacob?

    Joseph related to his father a dream he had, saying: “‘Father, [in a dream] I saw eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them all prostrate themselves before me…’” (4). Jacob understood the mean- ing of that dream and was filled with apprehension over his young son’s future: he feared his brothers’ jealousy, and so said to him:

    “My son, do not relate your dream to your brothers, lest they plot to harm you; for, Satan is man’s sworn enemy. Thus your Lord has chosen you and will teach you the interpretation of dreams, and He will bestow the full measure of His favor upon you and upon the house of Jacob…” (5–6)

    Jealousy drove Joseph’s brothers to collude to take him out to the fields one day with the intention of harming him or, somehow, intentionally losing him so that his father would never see him again.

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    They put their plan into action and Joseph found himself at the bot- tom of a dark pit in the middle of a wilderness. The young Joseph remained calm and confident that he would be saved and would one day face his brothers and make them ashamed of what they had done to him. His brothers had left him for dead, but God had other plans for him:

    And when they took him with them and decided to throw him into the bottom of the dark pit, We revealed to him that, “You shall tell them of all this at a time when they would not know who you are.” (15)

    As Joseph was left behind by his brothers, he was overwhelmed by the feeling that somehow they, and not he, would be the losers in that dangerous game they were playing. A few decades were to pass before Joseph’s dream would come true. They were not to know it, but his brothers were to go and beg him for food, after he had become an important official in the government of Egypt.

    As they [his brothers] entered, they said to Joseph, “Noble prince, we and our people have been afflicted by famine. We have brought but little money. Be generous and charitable to us; God rewards those who are charitable.” He [Joseph] said, “Do you remember what you recklessly did to Joseph and his brother?” (88–89)

    God’s infinite wisdom had seen to it that Joseph’s ordeal at the bottom of that dark and desolate pit would become the first step on the road to power and glory. When his brothers arrived home after leaving him for dead in the pit, they said to their father:

    ‘We went off racing with one another, and left Joseph behind to look after our things, but the wolf came and attacked him. We know you will not believe us, though we do speak the truth.’ (17)

    A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an

    Their father’s reply was: “‘No. Your hearts have tempted you to do something evil to Joseph. Sweet patience! God alone can help me bear what you are telling me’” (18). It was, indeed, sweet patience which eventually paid off for Joseph and his father.

    The Qur’an here presents factual details from an episode of human history rather than a mere work of fiction. Human society has always known literary works of fiction, which are in the main a product of their writers’ rich, but sometimes contrived, imagination. fiction writers create situations and characters, modeling and manip- ulating them in a fashion and for a purpose that would make the story interesting, compelling, and complete. The author takes full respon- sibility for the ideas and the aims of the story. Some authors use symbolism and allegory, and some use animal rather than human characters.

    But relating real historic events is a different matter altogether because it involves the identification and understanding of God’s laws and how they operate in life and society, as well as the interpre- tation of certain facts and truths that affect human life and behavior. God says to Prophet Muhammad: “In revealing this Qur’an, We will recount to you the best of narratives of which you were hitherto completely unaware” (3). Muhammad had no hand in the articula- tion or authorship of the revelation he received. Towards the end of the surah we read: “This is part of what is unknown to you which We reveal to you. You were not present when they [Joseph’s broth- ers] conceived their plan and schemed against him” (102). The surah closes with a comprehensive and definitive statement that applies to all historic narratives given in the Qur’an. It says:

    In tales of peoples gone by there is a lesson for men of understand- ing. The Qur’an is no fabrication, but a confirmation of previous scriptures, a detailed exposition of everything, and a guidance and a mercy for those who believe. (111)

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    Joseph’s model for diligence and devotion in the service of God and His message, no matter how great the obstacles might be, is an honorable and commendable one. The surah tells us that his prophethood began as soon as he had come of age: “And when he reached maturity We bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge. Thus do We reward the righteous” (22).

    Wisdom and knowledge are the two main essential constituents which God grants His prophets. In al-Anbiy¥’, verse 74, God says: “And to Lot We gave wisdom and knowledge and delivered him from the city whose inhabitants were committing vile acts…,” while in al-Qa|a|, verse 14, God says of Moses that: “When he had reached maturity and grown to manhood We bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge. Thus do We reward the righteous.”

    However ironic it may seem, despite his noble lineage, Joseph was sold into slavery by people whose main concern was the price they would get for him, and “the Egyptian who bought him said to his wife, ‘Be kind to him. He may prove useful to us, or we may adopt him as our son’” (21). Thus a prophet’s son found himself serving in a king’s household, where he was to face another type of temptation. Even at that ripe young age, Joseph was very conscious of God and well-known for his piety. God says in the surah: “Thus We established Joseph in the land, and taught him to interpret dreams. God has power over all things, though most people may not realize it” (21).

    Joseph respected the man who had taken him into his own household and became exceptionally loyal to him. He was not of the despotic and arrogant type of Egyptian chiefs, but a decent and honorable one. A friendly and sincere relationship had developed between the two men, as Joseph continued to uphold and observe the religious beliefs and traditions of his ancestors as well as their belief in the one God, preserving at the same time his personal virtue and upright conduct. Being accepted into the ruler’s family and treated as a son, however, did not stop the lady of the house from

    A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an

    coveting to win Joseph’s emotional and sensual attention. She could not resist his charm and beauty and pursued him for the satisfaction of her pleasures. But Joseph was beyond temptation, and as soon as the lady began to coax him into seduction his virtuous instincts were alerted. He recalled the honor he had inherited from his forefathers as well as the trust placed in him by the master of the household, and decided that under no circumstances could he betray either of them. The scene was set:

    The lady of the house where he [Joseph] was living then tried to seduce him. She bolted the doors and said, “Come to me!” He said, “God forbid! He [her husband] is my mentor who has welcomed me into his home. Transgressors shall never succeed.” (23)

    Being who he was, Joseph could not but refuse such an invitation and pass that severe test. Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said that among the seven people God Almighty would confer special favor upon on the Day of Judgment is “a man seduced by a woman of beauty and power but refuses her advances, saying, ‘I fear God…’.”20 Joseph, more than anyone else, would be expected to take precisely that stance. His resolve was confirmed by the lady herself who admit- ted: “‘I attempted to seduce him, but he held back’” (32).

    As a virile, fully developed man in the prime of his youth, Joseph’s desires would under such circumstances be quite naturally aroused, but at that very moment he would also be aware that he could not allow himself to be led by those desires. Personal honor, religious faith, and fear of God would all combine to control the carnal passions and sensual feelings he must, as a human being, have experienced. Were he bereft of these natural human emotions and feelings, were he passionless or inadequate, he would merit no cre- dit for resisting this lady’s amorous advances.

    1. Narrated by al-Bukh¥rÏ and Muslim.

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    She advanced towards him, and he, too, was inclined towards her, and had he not seen a sign from his Lord he [would have suc- cumbed]. Thus We shielded him against evil and indecency, for he was one of Our select servants. (24)

    Faith triumphed over temptation, and Joseph’s integrity and chastity were preserved intact. As Joseph turned away, making his way towards the door, the Egyptian chief’s wife ran after him, grab- bing his shirt and tearing it as he dashed away from her towards the door. The drama reached a fever pitch when the husband appeared on the scene and the wife, spurned and driven by rage and guilt, immediately retorted by accusing Joseph of attacking her, demand- ing that he should be punished. She said: “‘A man who wished to violate your wife should be imprisoned or severely punished’” (25). Convinced of his own innocence, Joseph said without hesita- tion: “‘It is she who attempted to seduce me’” (26). There was no video or voice recording, and no material evidence to support either claim, but the circumstantial evidence was overwhelmingly in Joseph’s favor. Simple logic and common sense pointed to the fact that since his shirt was torn from the back, Joseph must have been innocent.

    One of her own people said, “If his shirt is torn from the front, then she is speaking the truth and he is lying. But if his shirt is torn from behind, then she is lying and he is speaking the truth.” And when her husband saw that Joseph’s shirt was rent from behind, he said, “This is typical female cunning; women’s guile is great indeed!” (26–28)

    Such circumstantial evidence is admissible in Islamic courts, and so is that obtained through the analysis of fingerprints, blood sam- ples and other modern forensic techniques. The Egyptian chief’s wife persisted in protesting her innocence, but as the rumors spread

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    outside her household she could no longer hide her infatuation with Joseph while at the same time seeking justification for her behavior. Her plea to other women who blamed her would have been: If you were in my position you would have done exactly what I did! The narrative continues: “In the city, women were saying, ‘The chief’s wife has sought to seduce her servant. She is passionately infatuated by him. We believe she is totally misguided’” (30). To prove her point, the chief’s wife invited a group of women to a banquet and gave each one of them a sharp knife with which to cut the food and then asked Joseph to appear before them. They were totally enthralled with his charm and were so taken by how handsome he looked that they unconsciously cut their hands with the knives they were holding, and said: “‘This is no mortal human. This is a gracious angel’” (31). At last, as the women’s emotions ran high, enraged with frustration and fury, she had no choice but to admit: “‘I seduced him, but he held back. And if he does not do as I order him, he shall be thrown into prison and shall be terribly humiliated’” (32). It is clear that this admission on her part had come as a result of her realization that the evidence against her was overwhelming. Her guilt became established. Freudian and other modern schools of human psychology have sought to find justification for permissive- ness, indecency, and illicit sexual behavior. Perversion is portrayed as “normal” and moral discipline as repressive. But history tells us that immorality and promiscuity undermine societies and can indeed destroy whole civilizations. Joseph’s reaction was the epito-

    me of integrity, manliness, and humility when he said:

    “My Lord, I would rather go to prison than give in to their advances. Unless You shield me from their cunning, I shall suc- cumb to them and lapse into folly.” His Lord answered his prayers and warded off their wiles from him. God is All-Hearing, All- Knowing. (33–34)

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    He was rescued from his lady’s scheming and, notwithstanding his honesty and trustworthiness, was put in prison. “Yet, for all the evidence they had seen, they decided to jail him for a while” (35).

    In this surah, we are told of three different dreams, all of which had come true. The first was when Joseph himself saw a vision of the sun, the moon, and eleven stars prostrating themselves before him. He related that dream to his father, as we have seen at the beginning of the surah, and we are yet to be told of its meaning. The second occasion was during his imprisonment.

    Two young men entered the prison with him. One of them said, “I dreamt that I was pressing grapes.” And the other said, “I dreamt I was carrying bread upon my head and the birds were eating of it. Tell us the meaning of these dreams, for we can see that you are a man of virtue.” (36)

    The third one was the Egyptian king’s dream which will be dis- cussed later. Dreams are psychic phenomena related to the spiritual side of human behavior. Despite their visionary and premonitory attributes, dreams of themselves cannot be taken as omens of good or bad fortune. They are an indication of a quality of an extraordi- nary perception in the human disposition which enables certain individuals to see things in the future, with such clarity and in such detail, that others can not. I have personally known of a man who, before traveling from Cairo to his home town in the Egyptian countryside, had a vivid dream of the funeral of one of his relatives. When he arrived there he witnessed the scene in real life exactly as he had seen in the dream. I have known people who have had pre- monitions of all kinds without any apparent reason or explanation. The German philosopher, Kant, is said to have seen a fire more than a hundred miles away, while the following story involving the

    A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an

    second Caliph, ¢Umar ibn al-Kha~~¥b, and one of his army leaders, S¥riyah, is well known and fully documented in Islamic history books. While ¢Umar was once giving a speech at a mosque in Madinah he was heard calling in a loud voice: “S¥riyah! Watch the mountain!” He was reported to have seen the enemy fighters poised to launch a surprise attack against the Muslim army from behind a mountain, and involuntarily warned his commander. The commander, a long distance away, was able to hear ¢Umar’s voice and take appropriate action to stave off the attack.

    These phenomena are neither predictable nor governed by fixed rules. Suffice it to say that they do exist and that they did indeed occur with respect to Joseph. Having listened to the dreams of his two fellow prisoners, Joseph reassured them saying:

    “Whatever food is provided for you, I am able to describe it for you before it arrives. This is part of the knowledge my Lord has given me, for I have left the faith of those who disbelieve in God and deny the life to come. I follow the faith of my forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We take no one as gods besides God…” (37–38)

    Joseph was proud of the faith he had inherited from his forefathers. It was that faith which had sustained him through the ordeals and the temptations he had had to face in his life, including his unjustified imprisonment. He could not let the opportunity go by, though, without telling those two inmates something about his beliefs. He said: “‘Fellow prisoners! Are sundry gods better than God, the One, the Omnipotent?’” (39). Any other so-called god is but a figment of imagination and a hollow entity, adding up to nothing.21 Joseph

    • Modern science has unravelled numerous mysteries of life and the uni- verse, and has made tremendous advances that lead to the recognition of God and acknowledgement of His power. Nevertheless, modern man remains heedless, preoccupied with satisfying his material needs, and almost totally oblivious to his obligations and accountability towards God. (Author)

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    interpreted the dreams of his two fellow prisoners as indicating two different fates, saying:

    “Fellow prisoners, one of you will serve his master with wine, but the other will be crucified and the birds will peck at his head. That is the answer to your questions.” And Joseph said to the prisoner whom he knew would be set free, “Remember me to your mas- ter.” But Satan made him forget to mention him to his master and so Joseph stayed in prison for several years. (41–42)

    Once that prisoner was released, he became immersed in the life outside and forgot the innocent man he left behind languishing in the prison.

    In the third dream the king had a disturbing vision and urgently sought its interpretation. Joseph’s former prison companion rem- embered him and asked to be taken to him in prison to have the king’s dream interpreted. He asked him:

    “Joseph, man of truth, tell us the true meaning of the dream in which seven fat cows are devoured by seven lean ones; and in which there are seven green shoots of corn and seven dry ones, so that I may go back to my people and inform them.” (46)

    Joseph obliged, and the king was informed of the meaning of his dream and asked for Joseph to be brought to him. Joseph, however, refused to go to see the king before his own innocence was estab- lished and he was completely cleared of the crime for which he had been wrongly accused and imprisoned. Joseph’s case involving the Egyptian chief’s wife was thus reopened and her lady friends, who were privy to what really happened, were called in to answer the king who asked them:

    A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an

    “What made you attempt to seduce Joseph?” They replied, “God forbid! We know of nothing bad against him.” The chief’s wife said, “Now the truth must come to light. It was I who attempted to seduce him. He has indeed told the truth.” (51)

    At that point, Joseph turned to the king to assert his innocence, say- ing: “‘From this the chief will know that I had not betrayed him in his absence, and that God does not fulfill the work of the treacher- ous’” (52). Upon hearing this the Pharaoh immediately decided that Joseph would be the right man to put in charge of some of the state’s affairs during the difficult economic period awaiting his kingdom, as his dream had indicated.

    The king said, “Bring him before me. I will choose him for my own service.” And when he had spoken to him, the king said, “You are henceforth established in a secure position, honored and trusted by us.” (54)

    Joseph was offered an important public position in the Pharaoh’s government, and chose to take charge of its treasury affairs.

    Joseph said, “Give me charge of the treasures of the realm; I am trustworthy and competent.” Thus did We establish Joseph in the land [of Egypt], with full authority to do as he pleased. We bestow Our mercy on whom We will, and never deny the righteous their reward. (55–56)

    It is important to note here that Joseph had pointed out both the moral as well as the corporeal qualities that were necessary to qualify him for the post he had agreed to accept. In other words, he was not merely a virtuous and trustworthy man, but was also competent and capable of assuming fully his responsibilities over the state’s resources. Moreover Joseph was able to propose himself for a role in

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    public office because there was no other person in Egypt at the time as suitable and qualified for the post as he was. The public interest could only be best served by appointing a strong and honest person to take up the responsibilities that the position demanded.

    Examining the early history of Islam, we come across the case of the well-known Muslim soldier, Kh¥lid ibn al-WalÏd, who put himself forward to lead the Muslim troops in the battle of al-Yarm‰k in 635 ac. Kh¥lid had seen that none of the other warriors present at the time possessed his qualities and combat experience and he therefore chose to command the troops himself, leading them to numerous successive victories. Throughout history, experience has shown that placing the wrong men at the head of important military expeditions almost always leads to disastrous results in the field of battle. On the first day he took command, Kh¥lid drew up a fresh plan of attack, reorganized the Muslim army, rallied all available forces and went on to achieve a resounding victory against the Byzantines, driving them out and spearheading the Muslim conquest of the whole of the Fertile Crescent.

    Seeking leadership or public office is a grave matter if undertaken for reasons of self-aggrandizement and greed for power, privilege or domination. History is replete with the examples of many great nations that have been led to ruin and humiliation by despotic and power-hungry individuals.

    The seven lean years foretold by the king’s dream finally arrived and the famine which resulted swept well beyond Egypt to reach Syria and Mesopotamia whose inhabitants were forced to travel all the way to the more affluent land of Egypt in their search for food.

    A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an

    Among them were Joseph’s own brothers who, several years earlier, had conspired to kill him and presumed him dead. Joseph welcomed his brothers into Egypt but would not agree to give them any provi- sions until they brought their younger brother back with them on their return visit. So the brothers returned home and informed their father of Joseph’s request. Jacob did not welcome the idea, saying: “‘Am I to trust you with him as I had once trusted you with his brother? But God is the best of guardians and He is the most merci- ful of all’” (64). However, as the conditions of the family were so dire, Jacob finally gave in to his sons’ persistence and saw them off a second time saying:

    “My sons, do not enter from one gate; enter from different gates. In no way can I shield you from the might of God; judgment is His alone. In Him I have put my trust, and in Him all should put their trust.” (67)

    The reason behind this curious piece of advice seems to be Jacob’s anxiety that a group of ten, united men seen entering the gates of the city could be seen as a threat by its inhabitants. He clearly feared for their safety.

    The brothers appeared before Joseph a second time and on meet- ing them he gave his younger brother a special welcome. “When they entered before Joseph, he embraced his brother and said to him, ‘I am your brother, so do not worry over what they do’” (69). The verse indicates that Joseph must have had some inclination about his brother’s plight to console him in that manner. Joseph then devised a plan by which he could detain his younger brother and force his brothers to return to their father without him. He asked his aides to conceal the royal measuring cup, usually studded with precious stones, in his brother’s luggage and, once they had done so, announced that it had been stolen. It was agreed that who- ever had stolen it should be detained by the king.

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    Meanwhile in Palestine, on learning that he had been deprived of a second son, Jacob said: “‘God may bring them all back to me. He alone is All-Knowing and Wise’” (83). It was no doubt a trau- matic experience for Jacob who had yet to recover from the ordeal of losing Joseph. His grief was compounded and he “turned away from them, saying, ‘How grieved I am over Joseph!’ His eyes went white with grief and he was choked with melancholy” (84). However, in a desperate snatch at hope he told his sons to “‘go and seek news of Joseph and his brother and do not despair of the mercy of God. Only the unbelievers despair of God’s mercy’” (87). Thus, Joseph’s brothers returned to Egypt for a third time. Loo- king dejected and miserable, on their arrival they went to see Joseph and said to him: “‘Chief! We and our people have been scourged with hardship. We have brought you a few goods. Give us some corn, and be generous to us. God rewards those who are charitable’” (88).

    At this point Joseph suddenly revealed his true identity and spoke to them sternly and effectively, saying: “‘Do you remember what you recklessly did to Joseph and his brother?’” (89). Only then did it dawn on them that this man might be their brother Joseph and they immediately asked: “‘Are you really Joseph, then?’ He said, ‘I am indeed Joseph and this is my brother. God has been gracious to us. Those that fear God and persevere, God will not deny their reward’” (90). With these words, Joseph reminded his brothers, and thereby all humankind of a fundamental principle of faith and a fact of life: fear of God and patient perseverance are rewarded with success. It is a principle as valid as any scientific or physical law.

    Several decades after Joseph’s first dream, everyone around him began to realize the truth of God’s will, and his brothers said:

    A Thematic Commentary on the Qur’an

    “By the Lord, God has exalted you above us all, for we have indeed been guilty.” He said, “This day, you are free of reproach. May God forgive you. He is the most merciful of all.” (91–92)

    A man with a generous and kind heart has no room for vengeance or malice, and at the moment of triumph he shows greater benevo- lence towards others and more humility towards God. Joseph then said to his brothers: “‘Take this shirt of mine and throw it over my father’s face. He shall recover his sight. Then bring me all your peo- ple’” (93). Well into his journey from Palestine to Egypt, Jacob cried: “‘I can sense the scent of Joseph, although you may refuse to believe me’” (94). This verse again brings us face to face with the mysteries of premonition and the world of the unseen.

    We are left wondering as to how Jacob could have felt Joseph’s existence? How could he have perceived of events that had taken place hundreds of miles away? “And when the bearer of good news arrived, he threw Joseph’s shirt over Jacob’s face, and as he regained his sight, he said, ‘Did I not tell you that I know from God things that you do not?’” (96). A few days later Joseph’s first dream was also to come true, as did the other two he had interpreted in the course of this surah.

    When they went in to see Joseph, he embraced his parents and said to them, “Enter Egypt where, God willing, you shall be safe.” He then sat his parents on the [royal] bench where they all prostrated themselves before him. He said, “Father! This is the meaning of my old dream; my Lord has made it come true. He was gracious to me as He had me released from prison, and brought you here out of the desert after Satan created discord between me and my brothers. My Lord is subtle in fulfilling His will. He is All-Knowing, Wise.” (99–100)

    Having related these parts of Joseph’s story, God turns to address Prophet Muhammad, saying: “What We have here related was

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    unknown to you. You were not present when Joseph’s brothers conceived their devious plot” (102). Besides the obvious fact that the Prophet had not been present during those events, the Qur’an confirms that he had no knowledge of them prior to receiving the Qur’anic revelation. It was in effect warning his detractors that Muhammad’s knowledge of all such matters had come from God. Such rejectionists and cynical critics can still be found today, but God urges His Prophet to: “Say, ‘This is my way; I call people to God; both I and my followers have a clear perception [of where we are going]. Glory be to God! I take no gods besides God’” (108). But such doubters are negligent and totally oblivious of the evidence pointing to God and the truth of His revelation: “Many are the mar- vels of the heavens and the earth which they pass by and to which they pay no heed” (105).

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    الر ۚ تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ

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    إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

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    نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ وَإِن كُنتَ مِن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الْغَافِلِينَ

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    إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ

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    قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تَقْصُصْ رُؤْيَاكَ عَلَىٰ إِخْوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُوا لَكَ كَيْدًا ۖ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لِلْإِنسَانِ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ

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    وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَجْتَبِيكَ رَبُّكَ وَيُعَلِّمُكَ مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ وَيُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ كَمَا أَتَمَّهَا عَلَىٰ أَبَوَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

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    لَّقَدْ كَانَ فِي يُوسُفَ وَإِخْوَتِهِ آيَاتٌ لِّلسَّائِلِينَ

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    إِذْ قَالُوا لَيُوسُفُ وَأَخُوهُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىٰ أَبِينَا مِنَّا وَنَحْنُ عُصْبَةٌ إِنَّ أَبَانَا لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

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    اقْتُلُوا يُوسُفَ أَوِ اطْرَحُوهُ أَرْضًا يَخْلُ لَكُمْ وَجْهُ أَبِيكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا مِن بَعْدِهِ قَوْمًا صَالِحِينَ

Alpino

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