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The Stories of The Holy Prophets( A.S)-4

September 30, 2010 By: Mohammad Rafique Etsame Category: Current Islamic Articles

The Story of Joseph (part 4 of 7)

Beauty and a Test

Although betrayed and sold into slavery, Joseph, the son of Prophet Jacob, settled into one of the great houses of Egypt. His master, Al Azeez, Chief Minister of Egypt vowed to treat Joseph kindly, and Joseph, who was grateful for the relative safety, replied that he would be loyal to his new master. He thanked God for rectifying his situation and placing him in a place devoid of maltreatment and abuse. Joseph went from the position of beloved son to the dark depths of the well, from iron shackles to a position of ease. Joseph’s life twisted and turned, but the house of Al Aziz was where he grew into manhood.

The scholars of Islam have estimated that Joseph was around 14 years old when betrayed by his brothers. Imam Ibn Katheer, one of the most respected Quran scholars, explained in his work, “Stories of the Prophets”, that Joseph was most probably the personal attendant of Al Aziz’s wife. Ibn Katheer described Joseph as obedient, polite and exceedingly handsome. Prophet Muhammad also described Joseph, and called him «The embodiment of half of all beauty» [1]. As Joseph grew, God gave him wisdom and good judgement, and Chief Minister Al Aziz recognised these qualities in his loyal servant and therefore put him in charge of all household affairs. All who knew him, including the wife of Al Aziz, acknowledged Joseph’s beauty, honesty, and nobility. She watched Joseph grow into a handsome man and became more attracted to him as each day passed.

The Trial

{And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act), she closed the doors and said: ‘Come on, O you.’} [Quran 12:23]

{وَرَاوَدَتْهُ الَّتِي هُوَ فِي بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَغَلَّقَتِ الْأَبْوَابَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ} [يوسف:٢٣]
Transliteration: Wa Rāwadat/hu Allatī Huwa Fī Baytihā `An Nafsihi Wa Ghallaqati Al-‘Abwāba Wa Qālat Hayta Laka

The beautiful wife of Al Aziz closed the doors and tried to seduce the slave Joseph, but he resisted her advances and sought refuge with God. He sought help in God. Joseph told her he would not betray her husband. Joseph said, “He has been good to me and treated me with respect.” Joseph knew that those who commit evil acts will never be successful. The wife of al Aziz had an evil desire and tried to act upon it; Joseph however resisted the temptation and tried to escape. Prophet Muhammad tells us that if you make the intention to commit an evil act and actually carry out that act, God will have it written against you as one evil act. However if you think about committing an evil act and then do not do it, God will have it written as a good act.[2]

Joseph drove any thoughts of sleeping with the wife of his master from his mind, sought refuge with God and attempted to remove himself from the complicated situation. Perhaps Joseph had been resisting her advances for many years. A rich beautiful woman from the highest echelons of Egyptian society would not stoop immediately to such behaviour. Her beauty, status and wealth meant that most men or boys would succumb to her desires easily. Joseph however was no ordinary man, and when he immediately turned to God for help, God rescued him.

{Indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her desire had he not seen the evidence of his Lord. Thus, it was that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves.} [Quran 12:24]

{وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ} [يوسف:٢٤]
Transliteration: Wa Laqad Hammat Bihi Wa Hamma Bihā Lawlā ‘An Ra’á Burhāna Rabbihi Kadhālika Linaşrifa `Anhu As-Sū’a Wa Al-Faĥshā’a ‘Innahu Min `Ibādinā Al-Mukhlaşīna

Joseph is one of the leaders of those who will be shaded by God on the Day of Judgement. Prophet Muhammad explained that the heat of the Day of Judgment would be fierce, and people will be mingling with fear as they wait to be judged by God. There will be however, certain categories of people shaded from this brutal heat. One of them is a man who resisted the temptations of a beautiful, desirable woman by seeking refuge with God.[3]

Joseph’s refusal only increased her passion. He tried to flee and they raced with each other to the door. The wife of Al Aziz reached for Joseph’s shirt and tore it from his back. At that moment, the door opened and her husband walked in. Immediately, with out even one second’s hesitation, the wife of al Aziz attempted to turn the situation around. She cried out to her husband, {What is the punishment for one who had an evil design against your wife?} [12:25]

{قَالَتْ مَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ أَرَادَ بِأَهْلِكَ سُوءًا} [يوسف:٢٥]
Transliteration: Qālat Mā Jazā’u Man ‘Arāda Bi’ahlika Sū’āan

This was a clear lie, yet she pronounced it easily and suggested that Joseph be put in prison. Joseph tried to defend himself and said, {No, it was she that sought to seduce me} . [Quran 12:25 – 26]

{قَالَ هِيَ رَاوَدَتْنِي عَن نَّفْسِي} [يوسف:٢٦]
Transliteration: Qāla Hiya Rāwadatnī `An Nafsī

One of their relatives suddenly appeared and offered a way to solve this dilemma. He said,

{If it be that his shirt is torn from the front, then her tale is true, and he is a liar! But if it be that his shirt is torn from the back, then she has told a lie and he is speaking the truth!} [Quran 12:26-27]

{إِن كَانَ قَمِيصُهُ قُدَّ مِن قُبُلٍ فَصَدَقَتْ وَهُوَ مِنَ الْكَاذِبِينَ ﴿٢٦﴾ وَإِن كَانَ قَمِيصُهُ قُدَّ مِن دُبُرٍ فَكَذَبَتْ وَهُوَ مِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ} [يوسف:26-27]
Transliteration: ‘In Kāna Qamīşuhu Qudda Min Qubulin Faşadaqat Wa Huwa Mina Al-Kādhibīna (26)Wa ‘In Kāna Qamīşuhu Qudda Min Duburin Fakadhabat Wa Huwa Mina Aş-Şādiqīna

If his shirt was torn from the back, which it was, it meant that he was trying to escape and she was running after him, tearing the shirt from his back. The proof was unmistakeable. The Chief Minister, although clearly upset, was more concerned with covering up this affair. He did not want his good name and position to be sullied by a scandal. He asked Joseph to be silent about the situation and told his wife to ask forgiveness from God. This should have been an end to the matter, but as is common in more wealthy societies, people have a lot of time on their hands. Many hours are wasted having meals and gossiping about the affairs of their friends, neighbours and relatives.

The Women

The women of the city began to talk about the wife of Al Aziz and her infatuation with her slave Joseph. The news was spreading and the women asked themselves how she could desire a slave and put her reputation in jeopardy. The wife of Al Aziz thought she would teach these women a lesson and show them just how beautiful and desirable Joseph was. She invited them to have lunch with her, laid a beautiful table before them and handed them knives to cut the food. The room was probably full of tension and silent looks as the women hoped for a glimpse of this slave, while at the same time considering themselves better then the wife of Al Aziz. The women started eating, and at that moment, Joseph walked into the room. They looked up, saw his beauty and forgot that they had knives in their hands. The women were so entranced by his shape and form that they cut clear through their own flesh. They described Joseph as a noble angel. The wife of Al Aziz, confident and haughty said to her guests,

{This is he (the young man) about whom you did blame me (for his love) and I did seek to seduce him, but he refused. And now if he refuses to obey my order, he shall certainly be cast into prison, and will be one of those who are disgraced.} [Quran 12:32]

{قَالَتْ فَذَٰلِكُنَّ الَّذِي لُمْتُنَّنِي فِيهِ ۖ وَلَقَدْ رَاوَدتُّهُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ فَاسْتَعْصَمَ ۖ وَلَئِن لَّمْ يَفْعَلْ مَا آمُرُهُ لَيُسْجَنَنَّ وَلَيَكُونًا مِّنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ} [يوسف:٣٢]
Transliteration: Qālat Fadhālikunna Al-Ladhī Lumtunnanī Fīhi Wa Laqad Rāwadttuhu `An Nafsihi Fāsta`şama Wa La’in Lam Yaf`al Mā ‘Āmuruhu Layusjananna Wa Layakūnāan Mina Aş-Şāghirīna

What was to become of Joseph? Once again, with total humility, he turned to God saying that prison was preferable to succumbing the women’s desires. Therefore, his Lord answered his invocation.


[1] Saheeh Muslim

[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

[3] Ibid.

By Aisha Stacey

The Stories of The Holy Prophets-3

September 25, 2010 By: Mohammad Rafique Etsame Category: Uncategorized

The Story of Joseph (part 3 of 7)

Sold into Slavery

Lead astray by the whisperings of Satan and filled with jealousy and pride, the brothers deceived their father Jacob and betrayed their young brother. Thrown deep into a well by his older brothers, Joseph the beloved son of Prophet Jacob, clung throughout the long night to a ledge and tried to put his trust in God. The time passed slowly and the heat of the morning sun beat down heavily on the scorched earth. Later that day a caravan travelling to Egypt approached the well.

When the caravan arrived. the travellers went about their business, some tethering camels, others tending to the horses, some unpacking, and others preparing food. The water drawer went to the well and lowered his bucket, happy in anticipation of cool, clear water. Joseph was startled as the bucket hurtled towards him. but before it hit the water, he reached out and clung to the rope. Surprised by the weight of the bucket, the man peered over the edge of the well. He was shocked and excited when he saw a child clinging to the rope. The man called his companions to help him draw the child from the well and all were amazed at the sight of this beautiful child, not quite a youth, who stood before them.

Looking at the boy, the water bearer could not hide his excitement and cried aloud, {What good news!} [Quran 12:19]
{قَالَ يَا بُشْرَىٰ هَٰذَا غُلَامٌ} [يوسف:١٩]
Transliteration: Qāla Yā Bushrá Hādhā Ghulāmun

The man was overjoyed; he immediately decided to sell Joseph, knowing that he stood to make a lot of money in the slave market. Just as the brothers had predicted, the men of the caravan took Joseph to Egypt expecting to sell him for a handsome price. The slave markets of Egypt were teeming with people, some buying, and some selling, others just watching the proceedings. The beautiful boy found in the well attracted many onlookers, and bidding for him was swift. The price continued to rise beyond their expectations, and Joseph was eventually purchased by Azeez, the Chief Minister of Egypt.

However, God tells us in the Quran that they sold him for a low price. [12:20] This does not seem to make sense since the men of the caravan were jubilant by the price they received. God described the price as low because Joseph was actually worth more then they could ever have imagined. The men did not realise just who this child would grow up to be. They believed that although beautiful, Joseph was insignificant. Nothing could have been further from the truth, if they had of sold him for his weight in gold, it would have been a cheap price for the man who would grow up to be Joseph, Prophet of God.

In the House of Azeez

The Chief Minister, Azeez, sensed immediately that this was no ordinary child. He took him to his home, one of the great mansions of Egypt, and said to his wife,

{‘Make his stay comfortable, may be he will profit us or we shall adopt him as a son.’ Thus did We establish Joseph in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of events.} [Quran12:21]
{وَقَالَ الَّذِي اشْتَرَاهُ مِن مِّصْرَ لِامْرَأَتِهِ أَكْرِمِي مَثْوَاهُ عَسَىٰ أَن يَنفَعَنَا أَوْ نَتَّخِذَهُ وَلَدًا ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ مَكَّنَّا لِيُوسُفَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلِنُعَلِّمَهُ مِن تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ} [يوسف:٢١]
Transliteration: Wa Qāla Al-Ladhī Ashtarāhu Min Mişra Li’imra’atihi ‘Akrimī Mathwāhu `Asá ‘An Yanfa`anā ‘Aw Nattakhidhahu Waladāan Wa Kadhalika Makkannā Liyūsufa Fī Al-‘Arđi Wa Linu`allimahu Min Ta’wīli Al-‘Aĥādīthi

God placed Joseph into the home of the second most important person in Egypt. Chief Minister Azeez was more then just a prime minister, he was also the treasurer of Egypt. God established Joseph in the land in order to teach him wisdom and understanding. The struggling and striving required by Joseph to overcome the separation from his father and family, the difficulty of being betrayed by your older presumably protective brothers, the ordeal in the well and the humiliation of being sold into slavery were all trials designed to mould Joseph’s character. They were the first steps on the ladder to greatness. God used the treachery of Joseph’s brothers to fulfil His plan for Joseph’s establishment as a Prophet of God.

The brothers of Joseph believed they had matters under control when they put their brother in the well, but in reality, the matter was out of their hands. God is the one in control of all affairs. God was decisive in His action, and His plan was carried out despite the treachery, jealousy and pride of others. Joseph found himself in the decision making centre of Egypt with a man who seemed kind and somehow aware of Joseph’s special qualities. While longing for his father and brother Benjamin, Joseph was well taken care, and lived in luxurious surroundings. Joseph grew to manhood in the house of Azeez and God bestowed on him good judgement and knowledge.

{And when he (Joseph) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood), thus We reward the doers of good.} [Quran12:22]

{وَلَمَّا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ آتَيْنَاهُ حُكْمًا وَعِلْمًا ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ} [يوسف:٢٢]
Transliteration: Wa Lammā Balagha ‘Ashuddahu ‘Ātaynāhu Ĥukmāan Wa `Ilmāan Wa Kadhalika Najzī Al-Muĥsinīna

God granted Joseph both knowledge and wisdom. Not one just one, but both qualities. He was given the ability to understand and the ability to use good judgement when applying his knowledge. This is not always the case. There are many people throughout the history of the world, up to and including the present day, who have knowledge but do not have the ability or judgement to apply that knowledge in an effective way.

One of the great scholars of Islam, Imam Abu Haneefa, held regular learning circles in which presented a topic for debate. The topic would be discussed and opinions given, then Imam Abu Haneefa would give a final verdict. This way of teaching was unique at that time. There was amongst this circle of learning a scholar of the narrations of Prophet Muhammad; he recited one that Imam Hanifa had never heard before. Just at that time, a woman approached the circle and asked a question. The scholar replied that he did not know the answer, but Imam Abu Hanifa was able to answer her question. He then turned to the members of the learning circle and said. “I know the answer to this question from the hadeeth our brother had just mentioned”. Thus, it is possible to have the knowledge but not know how to apply it. Prophet Joseph, as

with all the Prophets of God was given the knowledge and the wisdom to understand and apply it.

By Aisha Stacey

Friday Special

September 24, 2010 By: Mohammad Rafique Etsame Category: Dimensions of belief

The Stories of The Holy Prophets A.S.)-2

September 22, 2010 By: Mohammad Rafique Etsame Category: Dimensions of belief

The Story of Joseph (part 2 of 7)

Treachery and Deception

{And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.} [Quran 12:21]

{وَاللَّهُ غَالِبٌ عَلَىٰ أَمْرِهِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ} [يوسف:٢١]
Transliteration: Wa Allāhu Ghālibun `Alá ‘Amrihi Wa Lakinna ‘Akthara An-Nāsi Lā Ya`lamūna

The story of Joseph confirms unconditionally that God has total control over all affairs. The treachery and deception of Joseph’s brothers succeeded only in preparing Joseph for the great position he would eventually attain. Joseph’s story describes God’s omnipotence and gives an accurate account of His power and supremacy. The story begins with deception but ends with comfort and joy. A fitting reward for the patience and total submission to God’s will, Joseph exhibits throughout his long journey confronting the schemes and treachery of those around him.

The patience Joseph learned from his ordeal made him amongst the most righteous of men. His lineage was impeccable, his great grandfather, grandfather and father were also Prophets. In Christian and Jewish tradition, these men are known as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deception and Treachery

When Jacob’s older sons sought permission to take Joseph with them deep into the desert to play, fear leapt into Jacob’s heart. From their first words, he suspected treachery and expressed his fear that a wolf would take Joseph. Jacob said,

{Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away. I fear lest a wolf should devour him, whilst you are careless of him.} [Quran 12:13]

{قَالَ إِنِّي لَيَحْزُنُنِي أَن تَذْهَبُوا بِهِ وَأَخَافُ أَن يَأْكُلَهُ الذِّئْبُ وَأَنتُمْ عَنْهُ غَافِلُونَ} [يوسف:١٣]
Transliteration: Qāla ‘Innī Layaĥzununī ‘An Tadh/habū Bihi Wa ‘Akhāfu ‘An Ya’kulahu Adh-Dhi’bu Wa ‘Antum `Anhu Ghāfilūna

Satan works in subtle and deceitful ways, and with his words, Jacob unwittingly supplied his sons with the perfect reason for Joseph’s disappearance. The brothers immediately knew they would blame Joseph’s disappearance on a wolf, and this became part of their dastardly plan. Eventually Jacob agreed and Joseph left with his brothers on their journey into the desert.

They went directly to the well and without remorse, picked up Joseph and threw him down into the well. Joseph cried out in fear but their cruel hearts felt no pity for their young brother. The brothers felt secure in their plan that a traveller would find Joseph and sell him into slavery. While Joseph called out in terror, the brothers took a small goat or sheep from their flock, slaughtered it and wiped the blood over one of Joseph’s garments. Completely consumed by their jealousy, the brothers took an oath to keep their foul deed secret and walked away pleased with themselves. Terrified Joseph clung to a ledge in the well, and God made known to him that one day he would confront his brothers. He told Joseph the day would come when he would speak to his brothers about this dastardly event, but the brothers would not know they were talking to Joseph.

{Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.} [Quran 12:15]

{وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِ لَتُنَبِّئَنَّهُم بِأَمْرِهِمْ هَٰذَا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ} [يوسف:١٥]
Transliteration: Wa ‘Awĥaynā ‘Ilayhi Latunabbi’annahum Bi’amrihim Hādhā Wa Hum Lā Yash`urūna

Crying is not Evidence of Truth.

The brothers returned to their father weeping. By this time it was dark, and Jacob was sitting in his house anxiously awaiting the return of Joseph. The sound of ten men crying confirmed his deepest fear. The darkness of the night was matched only be the darkness in their hearts. The lies rolled easily from their tongues and Jacob’s heart constricted in fear.

{They said, ‘O our father! We went racing with one another, and left Joseph by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us, even when we speak the truth.’ And they brought his shirt stained with false blood.} [Quran 12:17-18]

{قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا إِنَّا ذَهَبْنَا نَسْتَبِقُ وَتَرَكْنَا يُوسُفَ عِندَ مَتَاعِنَا فَأَكَلَهُ الذِّئْبُ ۖ وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُؤْمِنٍ لَّنَا وَلَوْ كُنَّا صَادِقِينَ ﴿١٧﴾ وَجَاءُوا عَلَىٰ قَمِيصِهِ بِدَمٍ كَذِبٍ} [يوسف:17-١٨]
Transliteration: Qālū Yā ‘Abānā ‘Innā Dhahabnā Nastabiqu Wa Taraknā Yūsufa `Inda Matā`inā Fa’akalahu Adh-Dhi’bu Wa Mā ‘Anta Bimu’uminin Lanā Wa Law Kunnā Şādiqīna (17) Wa Jā’ū `Alá Qamīşihi Bidamin Kadhibin

In a story from the righteous men that came after Prophet Muhammad comes a tale of a Muslim judge who was deciding the case of an old woman. The details of the case are not important; however, the old woman was crying and crying. Based on the evidence the judge ruled against her. A friend of the judge said, “She was crying and crying, she is old, why didn’t you believe her?” The judge said “Don’t you know from Quran that crying is not evidence of the truth, the brothers of Joseph went to their father crying.” They were crying but they committed the crime.

Both Jacob and Joseph were among the most noble of men. Prophet Muhammad described Joseph as the most dignified and generous of men. When asked who was the most God fearing man he replied, «The most honourable person is Joseph, God’s prophet, the son of God’s prophet, the son of the beloved servant of God (Abraham).»[1] While Joseph sat in the well, terrified, yet secure in his submission to God, Jacob, many miles way, felt his heart constricted by fear and pain yet knew his sons were lying. As befitting a Prophet of God, with tears streaming down his face, Jacob said,

{Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is God (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.} [Quran 12:18]

{قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا ۖ فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ ۖ وَاللَّهُ الْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ} [يوسف:١٨]
Transliteration: Qāla Bal Sawwalat Lakum ‘Anfusukum ‘Amrāan Faşabrun Jamīlun Wa Allāhu Al-Musta`ānu `Alá Mā Taşifūna

This was a dilemma for Jacob, what was he to do? He knew his sons were lying, but what were his options? To kill his sons? Due to his complete submission to God, Jacob knew that this affair was out of his hands. He had no option but to trust God and turn to Him with hope and patience.

Deep in the well, Joseph prayed. Father and son turned to God in the deep darkness of the night. A mixture of fear and hope filled their hearts, and the night gave way to the new day. For Jacob, the day dawned on the beginning of many years to be filled with trust in God and patience. For Joseph, the sunrays of dawn shone down on the edges of the well. If he could have scanned the horizon, he would have seen a caravan approaching. Minutes later a man lowered his bucket into its depths of the well expecting to find cool clear water.