The Period and Reason of Revelation:
It is evident from the
subject matter of this Sûrah that it would have also been revealed during the
last period of the stay of the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in Makkah -- when the people of
Quraish were pondering about Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, whether to kill or exile or imprison
him. At that time some of the
nonbelievers asked this question (probably at the initiation of the Jews) from
Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa
sallam to test him, "What was the reason that Israelites went to
The Purpose of Revelation:
Therefore, this speech had been revealed for two important objectives:
First objective, was to provide the proof of the Prophethood of Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, demanded by the opponents themselves, and it should be proved according to their own purposed test that Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam does not state things merely on the base of hearsay – in fact he gains the knowledge through Revelation. This point has been clearly stated in verse 3, 7 and it has also been explained fully in verse 102, 103.
Second objective, was to tell the chiefs of Quraish relating the story of Prophet Yûsuf that you are doing the same thing with your brother Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, which was done by the brothers of Yûsuf to him. As the brothers of Yûsuf could not go against the Will of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala and ultimately they kneeled down before him, whom they threw into the well without any pity, in the same way your planning will not succeed against the Will of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala and one day you will also beg for mercy from your brother, whom today you are trying your best to crush down. This point has been explained in the beginning of the Sûrah. Therefore, it has been stated, “The fact is that in the story of Yûsuf and his brothers there are many signs (lessons) for those who inquire”.
The truth is that by
applying the story of Prophet Yûsuf to the circumstances of Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in fact the Qur’ân had given clear
insight, which had been literally proved by the events taken place in the
succeeding ten years. It had been hardly
two years after the revelation of this Sûrah that the Quraish conspired to kill
the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi
wa sallam like the brothers of Prophet Yûsuf, and he had no choice but to
emigrate from Makkah to Al-Madinah. In addition,
contrary to the hopes of the chiefs of Quraish Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also
gained the same kind of power as Prophet Yûsuf had gained in
Issues and Discussion:
These two objectives are the key components of this Sûrah. Moreover, Al-Qur’ân does not narrate this story for the sake of story or for the purpose of history only -- but according to its principle, it uses it to spread its true Message.
Al-Qur'ân has made it clear throughout the narrative that the Prophets Ibrâhim, Prophet Ishâque, Prophet Ya’qûb and Prophet Yûsuf (Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala 's peace be upon them all) had the same as is the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and they had been inviting towards the same Message to which Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is inviting them today.
Then on one side it places the characters of Prophet Ya’qûb and Prophet Yûsuf and compares it with the characters of the brothers of Yûsuf, the trade caravan, Al Azîz of Egypt, his wife, the ladies of Egypt, and the rulers of Egypt and merely with the style of its speech poses a silent question to the reader and the observers, as if to say, "On one side there are those exemplary characters which are created by Islam, by Serving Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala and believing in the accountability of the Hereafter, and on the other side, the reproving characters are those which are prepared by Kufr and Ignorance, love of worldly life, and disregard of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala and the Hereafter. Now you should ask from your consciousness which of these two models it likes.”
Then from this story Al-Qur’ân, also inculcate another truth in the minds of human being -- that whatever Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala Wants to do – that is fulfilled anyway. Human can never succeed to stop or change HIS plans from happening by his/her strategies. Many times human does a task according to his/her own plans and considers that I have hit right on the target – but in the end he/she finds out that Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala had gotten the job done by his/her hands according to HIS Own Plan. When the brothers of Prophet Yûsuf were throwing him into the well, they thought that they had got rid of their obstacle forever. However, in fact, they had straighten his way leading towards the rule of Egypt where Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala wanted him to be – and by their action they put Yûsuf at the highest place after that instead of going before him with an honor they humbled themselves before him with shame. In the same way, the wife of Azîz was taking revenge from Yûsuf by sending him to the prison -- but in fact, she had straighten the way for him to become the ruler of Egypt and she could not achieve anything but putting herself to the shame of confessing her own sin publicly. These are not the only a few instances but the history is full of such events, which proved the truth that whom Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala Wanted to raise high, if the whole world unite to bring him/her down it could never succeed. However, the very sure and effective measures that were adopted by the world to degrade him/her -- Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala makes the same plans for his/her success and for those people, who tried to downgrade him/her, nothing is left except the humiliation and disgrace. Similarly, if Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala Wanted the fall of one -- no measure can support him, but all the plans for his support are reversed and all such people suffer only disgrace and embarrassment.
If anyone understands the truth of this fact -- the first lesson one will get, while planning or setting goals one should not exceed those limits which are set by Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala for him/her. The success or failure is in the Hands of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala. If anyone will adopt the straightforward strategy within the boundaries of Law of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala for a noble cause but fails, in that case at least one will not suffer the humiliation and dishonor. On the other hand, if anyone will adopt crooked ways for a filthy cause – he/she will surely meet with humiliation and dishonor in the Hereafter, but also runs the risk of humiliation and disgrace in this world. The other important lesson it teaches is, to put ones trust in Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala and entrust all the affairs to HIM. Those people who are struggling for the truth and noble cause and whole world is trying to eradicate them – if they keep this fact in mind they will attain consolation from it and they will not lose heart against the most dangerous formation of their opponents, and trusting that results are in the Hands of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala will keep performing their duties.
However, the most important lesson this story teaches is that if a true believer possesses real Islamic character and is equipped with wisdom, he can conquer a whole country with the strength of his character alone. See the Prophet Yûsuf, 17 years of age, all alone, without any provisions, strange country, and above all he had been sold there as a slave. Every student of history knows the horrifying condition of the slaves during that period. In addition, he was charged with a heinous moral crime and sent to prison for an indefinite term --even in this worse condition of affliction, he demonstrated the highest moral qualities and consequently rule over the whole country.
Historical and Geographical Background:
To understand this story clearly it is necessary to briefly view the historical and geographical details:
Prophet Yûsuf was a
son of Prophet Ya’qûb and a grandson of Prophet Ishâque and a great grandson of
Prophet Ibrâhim (Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala 's peace be upon them
all). According to the Bible, (and the
reference in Al-Qur’ân also confirm it) that Prophet Ya’qûb had twelve sons
from four wives. Prophet Yûsuf and his younger
brother Benjamin were from one wife and the other ten from the other
wives. Prophet Ya’qûb had settled at
If the research of the
scholars of the Bible is accepted as true then Prophet Yûsuf was born in or
about 1906 B. C. and the incident with which this story begins happened in or
about 1890 B. C. Prophet Yûsuf was
seventeen when he saw the dream and was thrown into the well. According to the Bible and Talmud this well was
At that time,
Fifteenth Dynasty was ruling over
We also learn from the
The modern researchers who have done a comparative study of the Bible and the Egyptian history are of a general opinion that the king whose name is mentioned as Apophis in Egyptian history was the contemporary of Prophet Yûsuf.
At that time
The details given in the Bible and the Talmud about the story of Prophet Yûsuf differs very much from the details given in Al-Qur’ân, but all three agree in regard to its important components.