Story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) Alaihissalam


Prophet Yusuf (as) was the grandson of Prophet Ishaq(as) and son of Prophet Yaqub(as).  An entire chapter of the Holy Quran is dedicated to Prophet Yusuf(as) and is one of the most beautiful surahs in the Quran. Surah Yusuf explicates the numerous human feelings that include lust, jealousy, hatred, love, etc. Prophet Yusuf (as) was extremely beautiful and his father Yaqub(as) adored him a lot among all his 11 brothers since He was the one with the most magnificent characters and manners and possessed a noble and gentle soul. The youngest brother Binyamin was from the same mother as Yusuf(as), whereas the elder ones were step-brothers.

Dream of Prophet Yusuf(as)

One day, the very young and intelligent Yusuf(as) witnessed an unusual dream wherein he saw that eleven stars and the sun and the moon, all bowed down to him. He ran to his father Yaqub(as) with eagerness and narrated to him about his dream. Remember’ when Joseph said to his father, “O my dear father! Indeed I dreamt of eleven stars, and the sun, and the moon—I saw them prostrating to me!” (Al-Quran12:4) Father Yaqub(as) got the message that his beloved son has been chosen by Almighty ALLAH for prophethood. Realizing this, Yaqub(as) advised him not to tell anyone about the dream. Although Yaqub(as) loved all his sons, the elder sons besides Binyamin felt jealous of Yusuf(as) thinking he is the father’s favorite. He replied, “O my dear son! Do not relate your vision to your brothers, or they will devise a plot against you. Surely Satan is a sworn enemy to humankind”. (Al-Quran12:5). Hence, father Yaqub(as) got worried about his beloved son Yusuf(as) being harmed by the elder brothers.

Yusuf (as), his brothers, and the well

His elder brothers were envious of him seeing his father’s increasing affection towards him. This envy grew stronger with time, which led them to structure an evil plan to get rid of Prophet Yusuf(as). Their hearts filled with malevolence for Yusuf(as) and they decided to throw him in a well far away from home. Indeed, in the story of Joseph and his brothers, there are lessons for all who ask. (Al-Quran12:7). Brothers were always looking for an opportunity to take him away with them when they took their animals to pasture, but father Yaqub(as) always refused, saying, he is very young to go out and a wolf may attack him while they get busy with the goats. But the brothers stood firm to take him with them and told the father that they will take care of him and he will rejoice in their company and outing with them. One day Yaqub(as) unwillingly permitted to take Prophet Yusuf(as) with them, as the brothers kept insisting.

The next day, elder brothers took Prophet Yusuf(as) with them, and decided to go far away from home and plotted a plan to throw him in a well so he would die of hunger and thirst in the deep well. Kill Joseph or cast him out to some ˹distant˺ land so that our father’s attention will be only ours, then after that, you may ˹repent and˺ become righteous people!”(Al-Quran 12:9). when they came across the well, they took off His shirt and pushed Him into the well heartlessly ignoring his pleads. They returned home with his false blood-stained shirt which they did by slaughtering a sheep on the way back home. They came to father Yaqub(as) crying and said a wolf ate their brother while they were busy grazing the goats/sheep. Yaqub(as) could not believe this story and as suspicious thinking how can a wolf eat Yusuf without tearing his shirt. He remained patient and prayed to ALLAH SWT for Yusuf’s (as) life and his safety.

Prophet Yusuf in Misr (Egypt)

“And there came some travelers, and they sent their water-boy who let down his bucket into the well. He cried out, “Oh, what a great find! Here is a boy!” And they took him secretly ˹to be sold˺ as merchandise, but Allah is All-Knowing of what they did”.(Al-Quran 12:19)

With all his patience and trust in ALLAH SWT, the young boy remained in the well for almost 3 days and 3 nights. And it was in the that he received a divine revelation  “˹One day˺ you will remind them of this deed of theirs while they are unaware ˹of who you are.”(Al-Quran 12:15). Since ALLAH SWT has better plans and as per ALLAH’s plan a trader’s caravan on their way to Egypt stopped at the well for water. When they pulled the water bucket, a handsome boy came out clinging to the rope and they were amazed to find such a beautiful boy. The traders sold him as a slave to the chief minister, the Aziz of Egypt, and offered the highest price for the young and handsome boy Yusuf(as). His name was Fotifar and he has no children, so he told his wife Zuleika to take good care of Prophet Yusuf(as) and decided to adopt him as their son. “The man from Egypt1 who bought him said to his wife, “Take good care of him, perhaps he may be useful to us or we may adopt him as a son.” This is how We established Joseph in the land so that We might teach him the interpretation of dreams. Allah’s Will always prevails, but most people do not know.” (Al-quran12:21)

The beauty of Prophet Yusuf (AS)

With time, Yusuf(as) grew up into an intelligent and personable man and ALLAH SWT blessed him with an extraordinary beauty that attracted everyone around him.“And when he reached maturity, We gave him wisdom and knowledge. This is how We reward the good-doers.” (Al-Quran12:22). Indeed, Prophet Yusuf(as) was bestowed with immense beauty and grace. In an authentic hadith mentioned in Sahi Muslim and others states that prophet Mohammad SAW said“Prophet Yusuf was given half of the beauty and I was given all of it”. It was said that Prophet Yusuf(as) was so handsome, that when he walked into the room, the girls would cut their fingers while cutting vegetables as they could not take their eyes off Yusuf(as).

Prophet Yusuf(AS) and Zulaikha

Al-Aziz was very much impressed by Yusuf(as)’s honesty and wisdom that he assigned Yusuf(as) him the duties of all the household affairs. And this was the period when Prophet Yusuf(as) faced the second trial of his life. Al-Aziz’s wife Zuleika started having bad intentions for him as she was extremely attracted by his incredible beauty and handsomeness. She was watching him day by day and could not resist her desire. One day when her husband not at home, she invited him with bad intentions and closed the door “Come you.” (Qur’an 12:23) Prophet Yusuf(as) replied,“ Allah is my refuge! It is ˹not right to betray˺ my master, who has taken good care of me. Indeed, the wrongdoers never succeed.” (Al-Quran 12:23). Prohet Yusuf(as) tried to escape but she rushed towards him and tore his shirt from behind, as she found his husband at the door. Seeing her husband, Zuleika started blaming Yusuf(as) saying “What is the penalty for someone who tried to violate your wife, except imprisonment or a painful punishment?”(Al-Quran 12:25). Prophet Yusuf(as) was astonished and said “It was she who tried to seduce me.”(Al-Quran 12:26). Al-Aziz got confused and abashed, seeing a situation like this. He did not know whom to believe. He was cognizant of Yusuf(as) noble conduct and loyalty towards him. Hence, Al-Aziz sought advice from Zuleika’s cousin. And her cousin replied, “If his shirt is torn from the front, then she has told the truth and he is a liar, But if it is torn from the back, then she has lied and he is truthful.”.(Al-Quran12:26,27). His innocence was reasserted and Al-Aziz asked his wife to seek forgiveness. ALLAH SWT chose Prophet Yusuf(as) for prophethood and ALLAH SWT protected him from the indecent and evil act, ALLAH SWT is the master of all plans, nothing we know. All the tests and trials faced by Prophet Yusuf(as) were for his benefit and rewards from ALLAH SWT.

Prophet Yusuf(as) in prison

This obscene and indecent deed of Zuleika spread widely among the other women and they started gossiping and made fun of Zuleikafor her fascination with a slave. Zuleika took the plunge to make the woman understand why she got infatuated by Prophet Yusuf(as). She convened a gathering of women and gave them apples and knives to cut. Zuleika then called upon him and when women glanced at him they were so mesmerized by his beauty that they ended up cutting their fingers instead of apples without even realizing it. They expressed their amazement saying, “Good God! This cannot be human; this must be a noble angel!”(Al-Quran12:31). Zuleika then addressed the women “This is the one for whose love you criticized me! I did try to seduce him but he ˹firmly˺ refused”.(Al-Quran12:32). She then turned to Yusuf(as) and out of her frustration and shame, warned him “And if he does not do what I order him to, he will certainly be imprisoned and ˹fully˺ disgraced.” (Al-Quran12:32).Prophet Yusuf(as) with all his honesty and purity, stood with his firm Faith in ALLAH SWT and responded to her “O ALLAH! I would rather be in jail than do what they invite me to. And if You do not turn their cunning away from me, I might yield to them and fall into ignorance.”(Al-Quran12:33). After some time, due to continuous pressure from his wife Zuleika, instead of being aware of Prophet Yusuf(as)’s innocence Al-Aziz had to imprison him. She did so, thinking that if he will be in prison people will forget about this dishonored incident and she would regain her dignity. His companions in the prison were two men who were well aware of his honesty and loyalty. One among them used to serve wine to the king and the other was King’s cook. They both had a dream and asked Prophet Yusuf(as) to interpret their dreams. The first one saw that he was crushing grapes to make king’s wine and Yusuf(as) interpreted it saying you will be liberated soon. The second one saw that he carried a bread basket on his head and birds were from it and Yusuf(as) interpreted it saying you will be crucified and birds will eat from your head. Prophet Yusuf(as) informed the fellow men that this power of interpreting dreams is from ALLAH SWT only and he can not do it by himself. He also told these two men that the false gods have no substance and ALLAH is the only God. Prophet Yusuf(as) told the one who he knew would survive, to mention him to Al-Aziz, however, the prisoner forgot, and thus his imprisonment increased for many years.

The King’s dream

ALLAH SWT blessed Prophet Yusuf(as) with the supreme ability to interpret dreams. And since he was chosen for prophethood, ALLAH SWT took care of his dignity and honor. One day, the king of Egypt witnessed an unwonted and strange dream and this dream was from ALLAH SWT to get Yusuf(as) released from the prison. The king congregated his chiefs and said “I dreamt of seven fat cows eaten up by seven skinny ones, and seven green ears of grain and sevenothers. dry. O  chiefs! Tell me the meaning of my dream if you can interpret dreams.”(Al-Quran12:43).The chiefs could not interpret his dream and get confused and puzzled about suchan unusual dream. The ex-prisoner who was released earlier came to know about the king’s dream and recalled Yusuf(as)’s masterly interpretations of dreams. And he informed the king “I will tell you its interpretation, so send me forth to Joseph.”(Al-quran12:45). The ex-prisoner went to Prophet Yusuf(as) and narrated to him the king’s dream and asked for its interpretation. And prophet Yusuf(as) blessed with prudence and wisdom granted by ALLAH SWT interpreted the king’s dream saying “You will plant for seven years consecutively; and what you harvest leave in its spikes, except a little from which you will eat. Then will come after that seven difficult [years] which will consume what you saved for them, except a little from which you will store. Then will come after that a year in which the people will be given rain and in which they will press [olives and grapes.” (Al-Quran 12:47-49). The king was impressed by his intelligence and released him from the prison. His firm faith in ALLAH SWT and patience paid back. But he denied leaving the jail so long as his innocence was proved for the matter. The king then called upon Zuleika and the other women and questioned them about the affair. women confessed saying“Allah forbid! We know nothing indecent about him.”(Al-Quran12:51 ) and Zuleika testified that “Now the truth has come to light. It was I who tried to seduce him, and he is surely truthful.”(Al-Quran12:51 )and thus Prophet Yusuf(as) was freed from the prison with honor and dignity. The king was so much overwhelmed by Yusuf(as)’s integrity and purity that he granted him a position of high ranks in his service. And it also reported that the King, impressed by him reverted to Islam.

Prophet Yusuf meets his brother Benyamin

As per ALLAH SWT plan Prohet Yusuf(as) requested the king “Put me in charge of the store-houses of the land, for I am truly reliable and adept.”(Al-Quran12:55). By ALLAH SWT’s grace and will, the king appointed him the chief minister of Egypt. He performed his duties as Al-Aziz very well, harvested and stored up the crops for the coming 7years of famine so nobody has to starve. The household of Yaqub(as) in Canaan was affected by the famine as well. Learning about the Al-Aziz of Egypt trade-off for food and goods, Yaqub(as) sent his elder sons except Binyaminto get the provisions for their survival. Prophet Yusuf(as) immediately recognized his brothers as they arrived however, the brothers had no idea about Yusuf(as) being alive and they could not recognize the man with so much power and possession. Prophet Yusuf(as) did not find Binyamin with them so asked them to come next time so he will give them more provisions/food. And said, “But if you do not bring him to me next time, I will have no grain for you, nor will you ever come close to me again.”(Al-Quran12:60). And the brothers promised to do the same. Yusuf(as) told his servants to keep the money or goods back to their bags that they used for trading the food, so they would come back.

Brothers narrated the experience to father Yaqub(as)and asked permission to send Binyamin with them the next time. Yaqub(as) couldn’t make his mind to send his beloved son Binyamin with them as he still hasn’t recovered from the loss of his dearest son Yusuf(as). He was worried, for it could be their evil plan again to kill Binyamin. After some time, they ran out of food and it became difficult to survive and their suffering increased and Yaqub(as) had to send Binyamin with them however he made them take a solemn oath that they will take care and bring him back to him. With his trust in whatever ALLAH SWT plan for his son, Yaqub(as) let Binyamin accompany his brothers. Although Yaqub(as) loved his two youngest sons most but he also loved the elder sons as well, out of his worry that his strong and handsome sons might befall any harm, he advised each of them to enter from different gates and confessed them that  I cannot help you against what is destined by Allah in the least. It is only Allah Who decides. In Him I put my trust. And in Him let the faithful put their trust.”(Al-Quran12:67).

Prophet Yusuf(as) was extremely delighted seeing brother Binyamin and revealed his identity to Binyamin secretly and said “So do not feel distressed about what they have been doing.”(Al-Quran12:69). On their way back to Palestine Yusuf(as) placed a royal cup in one of his brother’s bags, acting upon his plan as he wanted Binyamin to stay with him in Egypt. The search for the King’s cup begins and the brothers were stopped and they replied “By Allah! You know well that we did not come to cause trouble in the land, nor are we thieves.”(Al-Quran12:37). The missing cup was found in Binyamin’s bag and as per Yusuf’s (as)’s plans and ALLAH SWT’s wills, he ordered to keep Binyamin in Egypt as punishment. And this is how ALLAH SWT reunited him with his beloved brother.

Prophet Yusuf meets his Father Yaqub (as)

The old and weak Yaqub(as) was heartbroken when he heard about his son’s narration of the whole story and cried so much that he lost his vision and he replied to his sons keeping his faith firm in ALLAH SWT with patience and perseveranceI complain of my anguish and sorrow only to Allah, and I know from Allah what you do not know.”(Al-Quran12:86). He was sure that ALLAH SWT will ease his pain and he sent his sons back to Egypt to search for Yusuf(as) and Binyamin since the pain of losing his sons was unbearable for Yaqub(as) and he has not lost hope in ALLAH SWT.

The brothers made their way back to Egypt and pleaded with Prophet Yusuf(as) to give them Binyamin and informed about father Yaqub(as)’s weakness and lost sight.Yusuf(as) then disclosed his identity saying “Do you remember what you did to Joseph and his brother in your ignorance?”(Al-Quran12:89). They could not believe him and were in shock. Yusuf(as) then apprised that whoever is mindful and puts his trust in ALLAH SWT with patience, he is rewarded in the end and ALLAH SWT has been gracious to them. He then gave his shirt and told them to cast it over father Yaqub’s (as) face and his vision will come back. And mentioned coming back with the whole family.

As soon as they touched Yaqub(as)’s face with the shirt, his sight returned and he said to his sons “Did I not tell you that I truly know from Allah what you do not know?”(Al-Quran12:96). His sons realized their sins and asked for forgiveness, to this he replied “I will pray to my Lord for your forgiveness.1 He ˹alone˺ is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(Al-Quran12:98). They all reached Egypt and met Prophet Yusuf(as). Prophet Yusuf(as) was overjoyed and delighted seeing his parents and he raised them to the throne and exclaimed “O my dear father! This is the interpretation of my old dream. My Lord has made it come true. He was truly kind to me when He freed me from prison and brought you all from the desert after Satan had ignited rivalry between me and my siblings. Indeed my Lord is subtle in fulfilling what He wills. Surely He ˹alone˺ is the All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Al-Quran12:100).To this reunion, his parents and brothers prostrated, and hence, his dream turned into reality by ALLAH SWT.

Death and burial place

Prophet Yusuf(as) performed his duties proficiently in his prophethood. He lived for almost 120 years and died a natural death in Egypt. With much discussion and disagreement of his burial, as everybody wished to bury him in their land, it was decided to bury Prophet Yusuf(as) on the route of river Nile.

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