The event of Sayyiduna Yusuf (عزوجل و صلی اللہ تعالیٰ علیہ وسلم) has been titled as ‘Ahsan-ul-Qasas’ by Allah – meaning ‘the best of the events’ among other Quranic events. The reason for this distinction is that the eventful holy life of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام was comprised of extremes of happiness as well as that of sufferings. We are presenting the summary of this extraordinary eventful life so that the readers may get moral lessons from it and observe the wonderful powers of Allah .
Sayyiduna Ya’qoob Bin Ishaaq Bin Ibraheem (عزوجل و صلی اللہ تعالیٰ علیہ وسلم) had twelve sons and their names are:(1) Yahuda (2) Rubeel (3) Sham’oon(4) Laavi (5) Zabuloon (6) Yashjar (7) Daan (8) Naftaali (9) Jaad (10) Aashir (11) Yusuf (12) Binyameen
Sayyiduna Binyameen was brother of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام whereas others were his step-brothers born of different mothers. Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام was dear to his father more than all of his other brothers. The main reason for this distinctive love and affection of Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام towards Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام was the distinguished sign of Prophethood that was apparent on the forehead of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام . That is why, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام used to deal him with great respect and affection.
At the age of seven, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام dreamt that eleven stars along with a sun and a moon are prostrating him. When Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام relayed his dream to his father, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام forbade him from telling the dream to his brothers by saying, ‘O beloved son, beware! Do not disclose this dream to your brothers.
Otherwise, out of jealousy, they will secretly conspire against you.’ However, the prediction of Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام proved to be true and the brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام became jealous of him. They became jealous to such an extent that through mutual agreement, they planned to take Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام out of the home and throw him into a well in the jungle.
For the fulfilment of their scheme, all the brothers gathered and went to their father Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام and with much insistence; they succeeded to get the permission to take Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام to the jungle with them for the sake of hunting and excursion. From home, they carried him on their shoulders, but the moment they reached the jungle, they dropped him on the earth out of hostility. They all beat him severely, then removed his shirt and tied his hands and feet, and dropped him into a dark and deep well. But immediately, Sayyiduna Jibra`eel علیہ السلام came and entered in the well and saved Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام from drowning by placing him on a stone which was inside the well. He علیہ السلام unfastened his hands and feet and consoled him. At the time of leaving home, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام had placed a shirt of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام as an amulet around his neck. Sayyiduna Jibra`eel علیہ السلام unfolded that very shirt and make Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام wear it. The dark well illuminated by virtue of that shirt.
After dropping him in the well, the brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام soaked the shirt of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام with the blood of a goat and left for home. From outside the home, they started crying loudly. Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام came out of the home worried and asked them the reason for their crying, inquiring if someone had harmed their goats. Then Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام inquired: ‘Where is my Yusuf? I am not seeing him!’ The brothers replied tearfully that during our play, we ran far away and asked (Sayyiduna) Yusuf (علیہ السلام ) to look after our belongings. Then a wolf came, mauled him and then ate him. They showed him his shirt. Although they had placed excessive blood on the shirt but they forgot to tear it.
When Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام saw the shirt of his beloved son with tearful eyes, taking the shirt in his hands, he علیہ السلام observed that it was in good condition and was not torn from anywhere. Therefore, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام realized the deception committed by his sons, and said to them that the wolf must have been very clever and intelligent that he mauled and ate my Yusuf but did not even scratch his shirt. He clearly told them that this act is all their wickedness. Then with a very grieved heart and with a painful voice he علیہ السلام said:
Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام remained in the well for three days. This well was salty but due to his blessed presence, the water became very tasty and sweet. A caravan was travelling from Madyan to Egypt. A traveller from that caravan, whose name was Maalik Bin Zu’ar Khazaa’i, came there to draw out water and threw his bucket into the well. That moment, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام held the bucket and clung to it. When Maalik Bin Zu’ar pulled the bucket up, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام came out of the well. When he saw the beauty of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام , he broke this good news to his friends saying :
The brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام , who used to graze thhhheir goats in the jungle, would peep and watch inside the well daily. When they did not see their brother inside the well, then in his search, they reached the caravan. After seeing him (Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام ), they said, ‘He is their fugitive slave who is completely useless, disobedient and worthy of nothing. If you people buy him, we will sell him very cheaply to you people. But the condition is that you should sell him at some place far from here that no news about him may relay here.’ Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام kept silent due to fear of his brothers and did not say a single word. Afterwards, his brothers sold him to Maalik Bin Zu’ar for only twenty dirham.
After purchasing Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام , Maalik Bin Zu’ar took him to the market in Egypt, and the king of Egypt bought him for a huge price. After taking him to his royal palace, he said to his queen, Zulaykha to keep him in his service with great respect and dignity. Therefore, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام started living in the royal palace of the king of Egypt. Queen Zulaykha fell in love with him due to his extreme attractiveness. Her love for Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام came to such a point that one day Zulaykha, drowned in his love, tried to entice him to fulfil her sensual desires. Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام refused by saying ‘may Allah ( ) forgive’ and clearly said to her that he علیہ السلام cannot betray his master, the king of Egypt, and cannot be ungrateful to his favours. Upon saying this, he علیہ السلام ran away from the room. Zulaykha ran after him and held him from the back of his shirt. Consequently, the back of the shirt tore away. While this took place, the king of Egypt entered in the palace and saw them both in that state. Zulaykha falsely blamed Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام for all that.
The king of Egypt was startled upon hearing her claim as to who was rightful. Coincidentally, a four month baby was lying in the cradle in the home who presented the evidence, saying that if the shirt is torn from the front, then Sayyiduna Yusuf (علیہ السلام ) is guilty; and if it is torn from the back, then it is the guilt of Zulaykha and Yusuf (علیہ السلام ) is innocent. When the king of Egypt saw the shirt, it was torn from the back. So, the king of Egypt declared Zulaykha as guilty and scolded her. He then asked Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام not to be grieved by this incident. However, upon the advice of Zulaykha, the king of Egypt sent Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام into prison. So, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام was transferred from the royal palace to the prison cell.
After reaching the jail, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام said, ‘O Allah ( )! The cell of this prison is better for me than the evil towards which Zulaykha was calling me upon.’ He علیہ السلام remained imprisoned for seven years or twelve years. During these years, he علیہ السلام kept delivering the message of the oneness of Allah to the prisoners and kept calling them towards righteousness.
It was a strange coincidence that the day when he علیہ السلام entered the prison, two servants of the king of Egypt were also imprisoned, one of which was a barman and the other was a cook. Both of them told their dreams to Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام and he interpreted their dreams. His interpretation proved hundred percent true. Thus, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام became famous with the name of Ma’bar (dream interpreter).
During these days, the great king of Egypt, Riyan Bin Waleed dreamt that seven healthy cows were being eaten by seven lean cows and there are seven green shoots and seven dry shoots. The king inquired the interpretation of the dream from his courtiers who replied that the dream was due to disturbed sleep and did not provide any interpretation for it. Meanwhile, the barman of the king, who had returned back after being released from jail sought permission of the king to go back to the jail for asking the interpretation of that dream. Therefore, as a messenger of the king, the barman went to Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام in the prison. He asked the interpretation of the dream that seven lean cows were eating seven healthy cows and there are seven green and seven dry shoots of corn. In reply, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام told him to cultivate constantly for seven years and save the harvested crops from this cultivation in shoots. He علیہ السلام further said that afterwards, a famine will strike and then the land will be affected by the drought for seven years. In the seven years of famine, the people will eat the food they preserved for seven years. Then the famine will end.
The messenger (barman) went back and relayed the interpretation of the dream to the king. Consequently, the king ordered for freeing Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام from the prison and instructed to bring him in his court. The messenger reached the jail with the good news of release. However, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام said that prior to his release, his innocence and chastity should be proven by Zulaykha and other women. Only then he (علیہ السلام ) would come out of the jail. Therefore, the king investigated the issue, and during the investigation, Zulaykha admitted that she herself tried to entice Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام and that it was solely her mistake. She also said that Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام is truthful and chaste.
After this, the king called Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام in the court and said, ‘You are a trusted and respected member of our court.’ Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام asked for the charge of all administrative and security matters regarding the treasures of the kingdom. He علیہ السلام said that he would handle the whole system. The king handed over the treasury and security matters to Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام and thus, the reign of Egypt came in the hands of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام . After taking the control of these treasures in his hands, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام managed the agricultural activities for seven years. He علیہ السلام preserved grains in their shoots. As the famine rose to its peak, people from all over the kingdom started coming to Egypt to buy food. As such, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام began selling the grains.
For the same reason, the brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام also came to Egypt from Kin’aan. Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام recognized them at first sight but his brothers could not recognize him at all. Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام gave them grains and said, ‘You have a brother (Binyameen). Next time, bring him as well. If you don’t bring him along, then you will not receive any food.’ The brothers said that they would try to convince their father. Then Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام instructed his servants to put the cash of these people back in their sacks so that after reaching home, when they would look at it, I hope they will definitely return back.
Therefore, when these brothers reached their father, they said, ‘O father, what will happen now? The king of Egypt has said that unless we do not bring Binyameen with us, we will not be given grains. Therefore, please send Binyameen with us so that we may get his share of grains as well. Be assured that we will protect him.’ Afterwards, when they unfastened their sacks, they were startled to see the cash they had paid. Upon seeing this, the brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام said to their father, ‘O father, what better conduct than this can we expect? See, the king of Egypt has given us full quantity of grains as well as returned our money. Therefore, send our brother (Binyameen) with us without any fear.’ Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام said, ‘I had once trusted you in the case of Yusuf (علیہ السلام ) and what did you do? Now how can I trust you again? I will never send Binyameen with you in this way. But if you take an oath and promise before me, only then I will send him with you.’ Upon hearing this, the brothers took oath and promised. So he (Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام ) sent Binyameen with them.
When these brothers reached in the court of the king of Egypt, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام made his brother sit on his throne and secretly whispered in his ear, ‘I am your brother Yusuf. Therefore, do not worry at all.’ Then he (Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام ) gave grains to all of them and they all took hold of their sacks. When everyone started to leave, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام kept Binyameen with him. Now the brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام became extremely worried. They had made promise with their father that they would protect him even on the cost of their lives but Binyameen had been snatched away from their hands. They wondered how to return home now and how they can remain there (in Egypt) as well.
Seeing the situation, the eldest brother, Yahuda said, ‘O my brothers! See what promises we made with our father before coming here. We have already committed a big mistake with our brother Yusuf in the past. Therefore, until I do not get any instructions from my father, I cannot move from this land. You people go home and tell father the whole story.’ Therefore, all the brothers went home except Yahuda and told the whole situation to their father. In response, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام said, ‘You people are making excuses in the matter of Binyameen as you did in case of Yusuf. However, I would observe patience and patience is a very virtuous thing.’ Then he (Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام ) turned his face away and began weeping. He علیہ السلام wept so bitterly in the memory of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام that he lost his eyesight.
Hearing the name of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام from Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام , the sons and the grandsons of Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام said, ‘O father! You would not forget (Sayyiduna) Yusuf علیہ السلام even when you will be at the verge of demise.’ Upon hearing the comments of his sons and grandsons, he (Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام ) said, ‘I present the account of my grief and sorrow only to Allah and you don’t know what I know. O my sons! Go and search for Yusuf and his brother Binyameen, and do not become hopeless of the mercy of Allah because to lose hope of the mercy of Allah is the tradition of the unbelievers.’
Therefore, the brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام again departed for Egypt. Reaching there, they said to the king of Egypt, ‘O king of Egypt! Our family has been struck with a serious infliction and we have brought some defective coins. Could you please give us some grain in charity?’ Upon hearing the miserable account of his home and hearing the word of charity from his brothers, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام became grief-stricken. He علیہ السلام asked the brothers, ‘Do you remember how you treated Yusuf and his brother Binyameen?’ Upon hearing this, the brothers curiously asked, ‘Are you definitely Yusuf?’ Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام replied, ‘Yes, I am Yusuf, and Binyameen is my brother. Allah has blessed us extensively.’ Hearing this account, the brothers of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام said with a deep and extreme sense of regret and remorse, ‘Undoubtedly, we are transgressors and Allah has blessed you with great excellence over us.’ After listening to the remorse and regret of his brothers, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام felt affection and said, ‘Today I will not condemn any of you. I have forgiven you for everything. May Allah forgive you all. Now go back home, take my shirt with you and put it on our father’s face. As a result, his eyesight will restore! Then bring all of the family members with you to Egypt.’
The elder brother Yahuda said, ‘I will carry this shirt to my father, because I was the one who dyed the shirt of (Sayyiduna) Yusuf (علیہ السلام ) in the blood of a goat and took it to him (Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام ). So the way I saddened him by giving him that shirt, today I will please him by taking this shirt to him.’ Yahuda took the shirt and returned home. He placed the shirt on the face of his father and Sayyiduna Ya’qoob’s eyesight was restored. Then, after offering the Salah of Tahajjud, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام prayed for all of his sons and his supplication was accepted. Therefore, a Divine revelation descended upon Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام that the mischiefs of his sons have been forgiven.
Then preparations for departure to Egypt were commenced. Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام had already sent two hundred ridings with his brothers to bring his father and other family members. When Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام gathered his family members, they were seventy two or seventy three in number. Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام took them with him and left for Egypt.
Allah bestowed such blessings in the progeny of Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام that when the Bani Israel left Egypt in the times of Sayyiduna Musa علیہ السلام , they were more than six hundred thousand in number, although the period of Sayyiduna Musa علیہ السلام is only four hundred years later than that when Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام left for Egypt. When Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام reached near Egypt along with his family, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام welcomed him with four thousand army men and a lot of Egyptian riders. Egyptians were stood in rows and they were waving hundreds of silken expensive flags, and this procession accompanied the guests as they entered the city. Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام was coming taking support of the hands of his son ‘Yahuda’. When Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام looked at the army men and riders, he علیہ السلام inquired, ‘Is it the army of pharaoh of Egypt?’ Yahuda replied, ‘No, it is your son Yusuf who is coming with his army and riders to welcome you.’ When Sayyiduna Jibra`eel علیہ السلام saw Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام in a state of surprise, he علیہ السلام said, ‘O Prophet! Raise your gaze towards the skies and see how a huge number of angels are present to participate in this joyous hour. These angels had been weeping out of your grief since long.’ The sounds of the angels’ invocations, the clamour of the horses’ neighing and the beating of drums created a warming atmosphere.
When the father and the son came close to each other and Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام intended to pay Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام the compliments of Salam, Sayyiduna Jibra`eel علیہ السلام said to Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام , ‘Observe a pause and give your esteemed father the chance to convey his heartfelt greetings first.’ Thus, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام made Salam in these words
Afterwards, the father and the son warmly embraced each other, and wept abundantly due to the overwhelming joy. They then went into a tent that was beautifully decorated and embellished for saying welcome. After staying there for a short while, they went to the royal palace. Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام made his esteemed father sit onto the royal throne. All eleven brothers and the mother of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام sat around him and all of them prostrated simultaneously together in front of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام . At that time, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام addressed his esteemed father and said:
O my father! This is the interpretation of my first dream; indeed my Lord has made it true; and indeed He has bestowed favour upon me, that He brought me out of prison and brought you all from the village, after Satan had created dissention between me and my brothers; indeed my Lord may make easy whatever He wills; undoubtedly He is the All Knowing, the Wise.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)] (Part 13, Surah Yusuf, verse 100)
i.e. my eleven brothers are stars, my father is the sun and my mother is the moon. They all are prostrating before me. Same was dreamt by him during childhood that the eleven stars, the sun and the moon were prostrating to him.
This historical event took place on the day of ‘Aashurah, the 10th of Muharram-ul-Haraam.
Demise of Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام
Historians have reported that Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام stayed with his son, Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام in Egypt with prosperity for twenty four years. When the time of his demise came closer, he علیہ السلام mentioned in his will that his body should be taken to Syria and buried beside the grave of his father Sayyiduna Ishaaq علیہ السلام . Therefore, after his demise, Sayyiduna Ya’qoob’s sacred body was carried from Egypt to Syria in a wooden coffin. Exactly at the same time, his brother ‘Ghays’ also passed away. The birth of both brothers had also taken place at the same time. Both of them were buried in the same grave. Both brothers lived to an age of one hundred and forty seven years. Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام came back to Egypt after the burial of his father and uncle, and ruled Egypt for 23 years and then passed away.
Grave of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام
After the demise of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام , a great dispute arose amongst people about the place of his burial. The people of every locality insisted that he علیہ السلام should be buried in their locality in order to attain his blessings. In the end, it was unanimously decided that he علیہ السلام should be buried in the middle of the River Nile so that the water of the river may touch his sacred grave and consequently, all the people of Egypt may gain his blessings from that water. So, he علیہ السلام was placed in a marble coffin and was buried in the middle of the River Nile. This was until four hundred years. Then Sayyiduna Musa علیہ السلام drew out the blessed coffin from the river and buried it amid the graves of his (Sayyiduna Yusuf’s) ancestors in Syria. At the time of his demise, the blessed age of Sayyiduna Yusuf علیہ السلام was 120 years and his eminent father passed away at age of 147 years. His grandfather, Sayyiduna Ishaaq’s blessed age was 180 years, and the age of Sayyiduna Ibraheem, the grandfather of Sayyiduna Ya’qoob علیہ السلام was 175 years.
(Ruh-ul-Bayan, vol. 4, pp. 324, part 13, Surah Yusuf, verse 100)