So I have wanted to do this tafseer for ever but didn’t get the chance until now, alhamdulillah. InshaAllah it’s going to be in parts with word analysis, tafseer, lessons derived and GEMs. Make du’aa I keep going till the end (ie 111 :P)
Tafseer Surah Yusuf, Ayaat 1 – 18
Yusuf is a proper name of Hebrew origin. Its meaning is said to do with the fact he faced a difficult life with lots of sorrow and returned to Allah a lot. Others say to leave it as it is. One of his titles if ‘Kareem ibnul Kareem ibnul Kareem ibnul Kareem.’ Kareem is one who is noble and honourable. His lineage is Yusuf ibn Yaqoob ibn Ishaq ibn Ibrahim – showing that he was Kareem with his forefathers also being Kareem as well mashaAllah.
This is a very unique Surah. Yusuf ‘alayhis salaam is only mentioned in this surah and this surah contains his story from beginning to end. It was revealed in the 10th year of Prophethood which is known as ‘Aamul Huzn – the Year of Grief. This was the year Khadijah, radhiaAllahu ‘anha passed away, as well as Abu Talib, radhiaAllahu ‘anhu. Its revelation came at a very critical time.
The pagans of Makkah at that time went to the Jews of Madinah and asked for something to ask the Prophet (S) – something to test his Prophethood. The Jews of Madinah told the Makkans to ask the Prophet (S) about Yusuf and his brothers. If he (S) can talk about him, he’s a true prophethood. If not, he is a fake. The Sahabah were also facing a lot of difficulties and asked for a story of the people of the past. A good story, with lessons and wisdom, will just boost a person’s determination.
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
- الٓرۚ تِلۡكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ ٱلۡمُبِينِ
Alif Laam, Ra. These are the verses of the book that make things clear.
The surah begins with huroof mukata’aat – disjointed letters. The strongest opinion about these is from Ibn Taymiyyah which is that they were a challenge to the Arabs. The Qur’an is composed of their words and letters yet they cannot produce anything like it.
Tilka is used to point to something far in distrance or that which is honourable. Here, it is pointing to the verses, the Qur’an and this surah in particular.
Mubeen is that which is clear and that which clarifies. This book is clear and it clarifies truth from falsehood, right from wrong. The root bayn is used for three things: 1) distance 2) how far 3) clarity. It shows that which is clear is far from similarity to something else. There is a clear distance between them. Bayyin is clear, eloquent speech with detail supported by some evidence. It is describing the Qur’an.
1) The Qur’an is clear itself – it is free from confusion and ambiguity because it is from Allah and in Arabic.
2) It is supported by authentic evidence.
3) It is clarifying the truth from falsehood and tells what hidaaya is and what dhalaal is.
- إِنَّآ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ قُرۡءَٲنًا عَرَبِيًّ۬ا لَّعَلَّكُمۡ تَعۡقِلُونَ
We have revealed this Qur’an in the Arabic language so that you may understand it.
Arabic is a description of the Qur’an – seeing as it is in Arabic. It is from the root ‘ayn, ra, ba and literally means to clearly express something. An Arab lives in the area (descended from Arabs) and speaks the language. The Arabs were a people who only through langauge could they express themselves. The beauty of Arabic is that what is understood and expressed through that langauge cannot be found elsewhere.
Qur’an is from the root qar’un which literally means to gather, to collect. The words are joined in recitation, all the main themes of previous books are collected, all the major sciences re in it, and all that is necessary for guidance is in it (rules of success). Qira’aa is something that is recited and in the form meaning something that is read a lot.
‘Aqala means to tie – how does it related to understanding? When you understand something, you tie things with others and then you remember it. For example, in Arabic, we go to the root to understand the meaning and then tie things together.The Qur’an is the most noble and honourable book Allah swt has revealed, delivered by an honourable angel (Jibreel as) in the most honourable land (Makkah) during the most honourable month (Ramadan) on the most honourable night (Laylatul Qadr) to the most honourable Prophet (Muhammad S) for the most honourable nation – the Muslim Ummah. It is a book which is perfect in all its aspects. In Sahih Bukhari, there is a hadith that the best person is one who learns it and teaches it. In reality, is this a book we deem as important and honourable? Or is the backup plan if one does not make it to the desired graduate school? Then the topic of it being in Arabic comes up. Why? This language is so deep – each word has an ocean of meaning behind. SubhanAllah, it creates a beautiful picture in your mind just with its words. It only helps to increase your understanding. So use your mind to ponder upon the meanings of this book and reflect and apply what is in this book.
- نَحۡنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيۡكَ أَحۡسَنَ ٱلۡقَصَصِ بِمَآ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ هَـٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ وَإِن ڪُنتَ مِن قَبۡلِهِۦ لَمِنَ ٱلۡغَـٰفِلِينَ
We relate to you the best of the stories through revealing this Qur’an to you (O Muhamamd), though before this, you were on of those who did not know.Qassa yaqisso means to follow. In stories, you follow the plot and storyline till the end. Other words for story are hikaayah and hadith – why weren’t they used? It is suggested that the intent is no amusement but one must follow the lessons being told and derived here.There are many different ways Allah swt explains concepts to us in the Qur’an. Signs of the universe are used for tawheed. Glad tidings are given to believers and warnings for the disbelievers. Historical events are mentioned to take a lesson from. Stories are also mentioned. Why are they the best? 1) Because Allah swt revealed this story 2) The Story of Yusuf is based on the truth like every story of the Qur’an. People watch movies not for lessons but for entertainment. The stories in the Qur’an are not for entertainment but for lessons. It demands you use your intellect and derive a lesson. Why were they called Ghafileen – ones who didn’t know? Before its revelation, the Prophet (S) and the pagans of Makkah didn’t know the story. The Prophet (S) only knew about it when Allah swt revealed it to him.
- إِذۡ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَـٰٓأَبَتِ إِنِّى رَأَيۡتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوۡكَبً۬ا وَٱلشَّمۡسَ وَٱلۡقَمَرَ رَأَيۡتُہُمۡ لِى سَـٰجِدِينَ
[Narrative starts] When Yusuf said to his father, ‘O my father! In a dream I saw eleven stars, the sun, and the moon – I saw them prostrate themselves before me!’The word abatee is used instead of abee for ‘my father.’ Why? It expresses more love and respect.
Ra’aa refers to general sight – so it can be in the mind, dreams, or phsyically. Here it is in his dream.Here, the story begins. Something you will notice is the story focuses only on the points which one can derive a lesson from. The ‘fluff’ of the story is left out – what is important is what is left to focus on.It is said Yusuf (as) was 7 or 8 years old at the time and this took place approximately 1800 years before ‘Eesa (as). They lived in a place called Ka’naan in Palestine. He had a younger brother named Binyameen and 10 half brothers. In his dream, the 11 stars symbolized his brothers and the sun and moon were his parents.
There are 3 types of dreams: 1) idle dreams which are fictional, imagined 2) nightmares – which are from shaytaan 3) good dreams which are true and from Allah. Common people can have all 3 kinds of dreams but Messengers only have the third. We learn that dreams can have meanings and can be interpreted. If a person has a good dream, he shouldn’t tell it to anyone except those whom He loves and trusts. If he had a nightmare, he should say ‘audhobillah and spit 3 times to the left – don’t mention it to anyone and it won’t harm him. The Prophet (S) said that the dream is tied to a bird’s neck (ie in the air – hasn’t happened) so if it is interpreted, it happens. Be very careful about whom you tell a dream to. For bad dreams, make du’aa for protection to Allah and do no act according to the dream.
- قَالَ يَـٰبُنَىَّ لَا تَقۡصُصۡ رُءۡيَاكَ عَلَىٰٓ إِخۡوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُواْ لَكَ كَيۡدًاۖ إِنَّ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنَ لِلۡإِنسَـٰنِ عَدُوٌّ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬
He replied, ‘My dear little son, do not say anything about this dream to your brothers, lest they plot an evil scheme against you, for shaytaan is an open enemy to human beings.’Bunayya is in the form of tasgheer which means to make something small. It is from ibn – son. It’s like when someone says kitty instead of kitten or chicky instead of chick. There are 2 reasons for it: 1) To express love and 2) To humiliate. Here, it is used in love.
Kayd is a plot in the large-scale. Ya’qoob (as) feared Yusuf’s brothers would try to harm him in a serious way.Yaqoob as feared that the brothers of Yusuf would plot against him out of envy so he told him not to share his dream. A person should be extra careful around those people who are jealous of him. Do not be open about your plans until they are concrete – be discreet. Shaytaan is a clear and open enemy – he wants to ruin relationships and cause fitnah. However, we can see the hikmah of Yaqoob that he didn’t bash his other sons – he called Shaytaan evil and just mentioned a characteristic of people.
- وَكَذَٲلِكَ يَجۡتَبِيكَ رَبُّكَ وَيُعَلِّمُكَ مِن تَأۡوِيلِ ٱلۡأَحَادِيثِ وَيُتِمُّ نِعۡمَتَهُ ۥ عَلَيۡكَ وَعَلَىٰٓ ءَالِ يَعۡقُوبَ كَمَآ أَتَمَّهَا عَلَىٰٓ أَبَوَيۡكَ مِن قَبۡلُ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ۬
It will happen (as you have seen in your dream) that you will be chosen by your Rabb for His work. He will teach you how to interpret visions and will perfect His favour upon you and the children of Ya’qoob as he preferred it upon your forefathers Ibrahim and Ishaq before you. Surely your Rabb is Always All Knowing, Always All Wise.Jibaaya means to collect – either to just collect or to take it away. Ijtibaa (verb) means to select something good and bring it close to ones self. Yaqoob (as) tells Yusuf (as) that Allah swt Himself will choose you – exalt you, honour you, raise your status.
Ta’weel is interpretation and it is from the root awl which means first, to return to orginal. Why? The interpretation is to return to the real intent of something, the explaination, reality, purpose of it.
Hadeeth are technically statements and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It can also mean a narrative, a story – every speech that reaches a person. In context, hadeeth would refer to: 1) speech, events, interpretations of them – the reality 2) Dreams – teach how to interpret dreams 3) Wahee – understanding Allah’s kalaam.
The blessing/favour given to this family is that Prophethood was kept in the family – from Ibrahim (as) all the way to Yusuf (as).Yaqoob as interpreted the dream himself. We see that Yusuf was chosen by Allah swt to become a Prophet and his ranks were raised by his skill of interpreting dreams. Allah swt knows best who deserves to be chosen for certain things.
- لَّقَدۡ كَانَ فِى يُوسُفَ وَإِخۡوَتِهِۦۤ ءَايَـٰتٌ۬ لِّلسَّآٮِٕلِينَ
Indeed in the story of Yusuf and his brothers there are signs for those who inquire.The ones who inquired were teh Arabs of Makkah after the advice of the Jews of Madinah. There are huge lessons for them as well as all of us.In this story we see the similarities between the brothers of Yusuf and the Pagans of Makkah. The pagans mocked the Prophet (S) at such a tough time and yet Allah swt revealed such a beautiful surah to him with so many lessons. It was a lesson for them too – look how you’re treating the Prophet – is it any different?
- إِذۡ قَالُواْ لَيُوسُفُ وَأَخُوهُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىٰٓ أَبِينَا مِنَّا وَنَحۡنُ عُصۡبَةٌ إِنَّ أَبَانَا لَفِى ضَلَـٰلٍ۬ مُّبِينٍ
[Story begins: His step-brothers held a meeting and] said to one another, ‘This Yusuf and his brother (Benyamin) are loved more by our father than us even though we are a group (of 10 and can help him more than those two). In fact, our father is clearly mistaken.It is said Yusuf had 10 step-brothers and 1 full brother (Benyamin).
‘Usbah is from ‘Asabah which is to tie something firmly. The nerves/muscles tie the body firmly together. So ‘Usbah is a small group of strong and powerful men. They are supporters and friends of each other and strengthen each other. They can be 10 – 40 men.
Dhalaal is used in 3 ways: 1) misguidance, error, to be wrong 2) loss 3) lack of ‘ilm, ignorance. They are accusing their father of dhalaal – they feel he doesn’t know he should love them more or he is clearly mistaken in not loving themm more.The brothers could see Yusuf and Binyameen were more beloved to Yaqoob. When a parent loves one child more, it creates jealousy between the siblings. Though Yaqoob loved them more, he gave more care and attention to the others. Yaqoob loved these two because 1) they were younger and 2) their mother passed away early. He loved Yusuf because 1) he had good character, manners, did ihsaan and 2) he was physically beautiful. Most people focus on the latter but the former is more important. The other brothers were backbiting against their father and this is very bad akhlaaq for children towards their parents.
- ٱقۡتُلُواْ يُوسُفَ أَوِ ٱطۡرَحُوهُ أَرۡضً۬ا يَخۡلُ لَكُمۡ وَجۡهُ أَبِيكُمۡ وَتَكُونُواْ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦ قَوۡمً۬ا صَـٰلِحِينَ
Let us kill Yusuf or throw him out to some far-off land so that the attention of our fathers turn exclusivly towards us, after that we may again become righteous people.’Tawrh is to throw something – to expell something. It can be three things: 1) to discard something far away 2) to throw something far away, finding it useless 3) throw it away while hiding it.
They then say they will be saalih – righteous, good, proper. Either 1) they would do tawbah and be good after or 2) become people of good and righteous affairs – the problems are gone.The brothers were not innately evil – they just wanted the love of their father. They had already planned their tawbah – something we see many people (including ourselves do).
- قَالَ قَآٮِٕلٌ۬ مِّنۡہُمۡ لَا تَقۡتُلُواْ يُوسُفَ وَأَلۡقُوهُ فِى غَيَـٰبَتِ ٱلۡجُبِّ يَلۡتَقِطۡهُ بَعۡضُ ٱلسَّيَّارَةِ إِن كُنتُمۡ فَـٰعِلِينَ
At this, one of them said, ‘Do not kill Yusuf but if you must, throw him into some dark well so that he may be picked up by some passing caravan.Ghayba is that which is hidden. Ghayabah is anything that hides something else – so a well, forest, etc. Here, it’s descriping the well because at the bottom, it’s so deep everything is hidden.
Jubb is a well with no fence. It’s constructed that way because of little water.
Yaltaqithu comes from the root meaning to pick up something that’s fallen, dropped.It is said the older brother spoke up to no kill him. He was basically saying if you want to do something, do a lesser evil. In the well, some travelers will find him and pick him up.
- الُواْ يَـٰٓأَبَانَا مَا لَكَ لَا تَأۡمَ۫نَّا عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ ۥ لَنَـٰصِحُونَ
[After this meeting] They asked their father, ‘O our father! Why is it that you do not trust us with Yusuf though we are his sincere well-wishers?Back they went to their father and kept pestering him to take Yusuf. You can see their hearts were completely opposite of what they said.
- أَرۡسِلۡهُ مَعَنَا غَدً۬ا يَرۡتَعۡ وَيَلۡعَبۡ وَإِنَّا لَهُ ۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ
Send him with us tomorrow so that he may play and enjoy himself. We shall take good care of him.’They said they would protect him but were not going to.
- قَالَ إِنِّى لَيَحۡزُنُنِىٓ أَن تَذۡهَبُواْ بِهِۦ وَأَخَافُ أَن يَأۡڪُلَهُ ٱلذِّئۡبُ وَأَنتُمۡ عَنۡهُ غَـٰفِلُونَ
[Their father] said, ‘I would be worried if you take him away for I fear lest a wolf should eat him up whil you are neglectful.’Here, Yaqoob (as) mentions Huzn which is sadness, pain in the heart over loss over the past and Khawf which is fear of the future.Yaqoob as couldn’t bear seperation from his son. He feared that a wolf would eat him while they were unaware. We can see the insight of Yaqoob – even he could sense the brothers were up to something.
- قَالُواْ لَٮِٕنۡ أَڪَلَهُ ٱلذِّئۡبُ وَنَحۡنُ عُصۡبَةٌ إِنَّآ إِذً۬ا لَّخَـٰسِرُونَ
They said, ‘If a wolf could eat him despite our number then surely we would be of the losers.’ They kept giving excuses to their father.
- فَلَمَّا ذَهَبُواْ بِهِۦ وَأَجۡمَعُوٓاْ أَن يَجۡعَلُوهُ فِى غَيَـٰبَتِ ٱلۡجُبِّۚ وَأَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡهِ لَتُنَبِّئَنَّهُم بِأَمۡرِهِمۡ هَـٰذَا وَهُمۡ لَا يَشۡعُرُونَ
When [after such persistence] they were able to take him (Yusuf) away, they resolved to throw him into a dark well. We revealed this [to Yusuf]: ‘A time will come when you will admonish them about this act of theirs, while now, they do not perceive its consequences.’Wahee is to communication/indicate secretly. No one else realizes it. It can be 1) actual revelation or 2) Ilham – inspiration (ex Umm Musa). SubhanAllah, Allah swt says to Yusuf ‘you will admonish them…’ showing that he will survive.The brothers proved themselves through their actions. All the details aren’t mentioned – only what is needed. Yusuf (as) did not complain once during this whole ordeal – keep in mind he was 7 or 8! It is said they were ylled at him and cursing at him. They tied him to a rope and lowering him in the well, cutting it halfway so he fell onto a rock. At this point Allah swt revealed this Wahee to him – in this extremely stressful time to assure him and increase him in his resolve.
- وَجَآءُوٓ أَبَاهُمۡ عِشَآءً۬ يَبۡكُونَ
At nightfall, they returned to their father, weeping.SubhanAllah, they began with lies and had to return with more lies to finish the story.
- قَالُواْ يَـٰٓأَبَانَآ إِنَّا ذَهَبۡنَا نَسۡتَبِقُ وَتَرَڪۡنَا يُوسُفَ عِندَ مَتَـٰعِنَا فَأَڪَلَهُ ٱلذِّئۡبُۖ وَمَآ أَنتَ بِمُؤۡمِنٍ۬ لَّنَا وَلَوۡ ڪُنَّا صَـٰدِقِينَ
They said, ‘Father! We went off to compete in racing with one another and left Yusuf by our belongings and a wolf ate him! But you will not believe us even though we are telling the truth.’They used the story of the wolf – exactly what Yaqoob (as) feared would happen. They also threw in the guilt of ‘you won’t believe us.’
- وَجَآءُو عَلَىٰ قَمِيصِهِۦ بِدَمٍ۬ كَذِبٍ۬ۚ قَالَ بَلۡ سَوَّلَتۡ لَكُمۡ أَنفُسُكُمۡ أَمۡرً۬اۖ فَصَبۡرٌ۬ جَمِيلٌ۬ۖ وَٱللَّهُ ٱلۡمُسۡتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ
[As proof] They brought his shirt stained with false blood. ‘No!’ he cried, ‘Your souls have tempted you to evil. So [I need] beautiful patience! And Allah alone is the one whose help is sought upon whatever you assert.’The blood was kadhib – not actually his blood. Tasweel is when the nafs presents something as very beautiful – something the heart desires. Yaqoob as didn’t blame them – said their hearts tempted them into this sin.
Jameel is a word for beauty but it’s used here for patience – why? When it’s used for an action, it means to do an action in the best possible way – it is the best action, option, and at the highest standard. Sabrun Jameelun is the best kind of patience – no wailing, no complaints. Yaqoob (as) turned to Allah alone – because He is the only one from whom help is sought.Yaqoob (as) knew the blood was false – it is said he mentioned how merciful the wolf was who took his son but not his shirt. He was also merciful to his sons – blamed their souls but not them. He didn’t complain – turned to Allah right away. He knew it was a test and that Allah was watching what he’s doing. Allah is the only one who can help you in any situation.
- Despite being the sons of the Prophet, they were still jealous. It’s a characteristic of humans. It’s our job to control our actions and thoughts.
- Shaytaan goes after a person especially when he or she comes closer to the deen. He doesn’t want you to make it to Jannah – because he is your enemy. Treat him as one.
- You won’t truly appreciate the miracle of the Qur’an until you learn Arabic.
- Everyone we know does not need to know every single detail of our lives. Only tell a few trusted people. You have the choice to share or not to share. It’s wiser to keep quiet.
- Also we see the evil eye is real – Yaqoob warned Yusuf against telling his brothers because their jealousy would get the best of them. Protect yourself by saying your daily adhkaar.
- The brothers assumed since they were stronger, Yaqoob should love them more. That’s not a reason to love someone more. Good akhlaaq is a better reason.
- If something is not going in your favour, look at yourself first and change what is wrong with yourself! The brothers of Yusuf blamed Yusuf – even though he had good akhlaaq. They should have changed themselves for the better first.
- In Ayah 11, they phrase their question accusingly – they try to guilt trip their father. Most people who lie speak like this to convince and justify the action to themselves first, before anyone else.
- Yaqoob (as) doesn’t accuse his sons of anything – he gives them the benefit of the doubt in every single situation.
- Imagine a 7 or 8 year old being thrown into a well – it did happen! This is a true story and it is told to us for a lesson to be taken.
- Truthful people’s actions speak for themselves.
- Again, at the end, Yaqoob (as) didn’t outright blame his sons – he said their nafs got the better of them. We should learn to give people the benefit of the doubt.
- In this situation of losing a child, Yaqoob as remained patient. It is said it’s the hardest thing for a parent to lose their child – this happened to our Prophets and we see how they reacted – with beautiful patience. In any calamity, we have to train ourselves to be beautifully patient – with ihsaan, in the best possible manner. Everything in life is a test and passing those tests with flying colours will only guarantee us Jannah inshaAllah.
Any other lessons from you guys?
If I made any mistakes, please correct me inshaAllah. And Allah knows best.