Yusuf bin Ya’qub

Prophet Yusuf (يوسف)
(Aleyhis Salam – peace be upon him)

Who was he?

  • Known as: Karim Ibn Karim Ibn Karim Ibn Karim.
  • Yusuf Ibn Ya’qub (Israel) Ibn Ishaq Ibn Ibrahim
  • Came from Canaan (South Palestine) and ended in Egypt.
  • His miracle: interpretation of dreams.
  • He was the only prophet whose story is the most detailed and fascinating story in the Qur’an and mentioned in only one Surah.

Chapter 12: Surah Yusuf

  • Among the reasons for its revelation is that the Jews asked the Prophet ﷺ to tell them about Yusuf who was one of their old prophets. Therefore it was revealed in the Quran, complete in its minute and careful details.
  • We relate unto you (Muhammad) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Quran. And before this (i.e. before the coming of Divine Inspiration to you), you were among those who knew nothing about it (the Quran). (12:3)

Dreams may be divided into 3

  1. Good dreams: Visions or dreams that come from Allah which is glad tidings.
  2. Bad dreams: come from Shaytan to frighten us which causes distress.
  3. Dreams which represent what a person is thinking about which is the workings of  the subconscious.

What to do with good dreams? 

  • Let him know that it is from Allah
  • Praise Allah for it
  • Tell people about it (if he wishes)

What to do with bad dreams? 

  • He should know that this dream is from the Shaytan who wants to cause him grief, so he should annoy the Shaytan by not paying any attention to him.
  • He should seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytan.
  • He should seek refuge with Allah from the evil of this dream.
  • He should spit drily to his left 3 times, i.e. blowing with a little bit of saliva.
  • He should turn over from the side on which he was sleeping, so if he was lying on his left side he should turn over to his right side, and vice versa.
  • He should get up and pray.
  • He should not tell anyone about it so it will not harm him. It was narrated from Jabir that a Bedouin came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “I dreamt that my head was cut off and I was chasing it.” The Prophet rebuked him and said: “Do not tell anyone how the Shaytan is messing about with you in your dreams.”  [Muslim, 2268]

His death

  • At the moment of his death, asked his brothers to bury him beside his forefathers if they were to leave Egypt. So when he passed away, he was mummified and placed in a coffin until such a time as he could be taken out of Egypt and buried beside his forefathers, as he had requested.
  • He died at the age of 110

Summary of the story

  • The story begins with a dream and ends with its interpretation.
  • Yusuf lived all his life confronting schemes made by the people closest to him. His brothers plotted to kill him while he was a boy, but they amended it by throwing him in a well.
  • Then he was sold into the slave market in Egypt, where he was bought for a nominal sum. Then he fell victim to the attempted seduction by a great man’s wife who, when her wish was foiled, sent him to prison, where he remained for some time
  • In spite of all of these, he at length approached close to the Egyptian throne and became the king’s chief minister. He then began his call to Allah from the position of the ruling authority

His story begins with a dream

  • Yusuf woke from his sleep, delighted by a pleasant dream he had. Filled with excitement he ran to his father and related it. “O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me.” [Yusuf 12:4]
  • His father’s face lit up because he foresaw that he would be the one through whom the prophecy of his grandfather Ibrahim.
  • But his father was aware of the jealousy of Yusuf’s brothers, so he told him not to tell them. “O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Satan is to man an open enemy! Thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of dreams (an other things) and perfect His Favor on you and on the offspring of Jacob, as He perfected it on your fathers, Abraham, and Isaac aforetime! Verily! your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” [Yusuf 12:5-6]

Yusuf listened to his father

  • Yusuf kept his father’s order and did not tell his brothers about his vision. They hate him so much that it was difficult for him to feel secure telling them what was in his heart.
  • He was 18 years old, very handsome and robust, with a gentle temperament. He was respectful, kind and considerate. His brother Benjamin was equally pleasant. Both were from one mother, Rachel.

Why Ya’qub loved them more?

  • Because of their refined qualities.
  • He would not let them out of his sight.
  • To protect them, he kept them busy with work in the house garden.

His brothers’ plot to kill him

  • “Why does our father love Yusuf more than us? Perhaps because of his beauty. Yusuf and his brother occupied our father’s heart. Our father has gone all astray.”
  • One of them suggested to kill him. “Where should we kill him? We should banish him away from these grounds. We will send him to a distant land. Why should we not kill him and have rest so that the favor of your father may be give to you alone?”
  • Judah (Yahudh), the eldest and most intelligent, suggested, “There is no need to kill him when all you want is to get rid of him. Look here, let us throw him into a well and he will be picked up by a passing caravan. They will take him with them to a distant land. He will disappear from your father’s sight and our purpose will be served with his exile. Then after that we shall repent for our crime and become good people once again.”
  • The discussion continued on the idea of dropping Yusuf into a well, as it was seen as the safest solution and the best idea
  • Truly, Yusuf and his brother (Benjamin) are loved more by our father than we, but we are Usbah (a strong group). Really our father is in a plain error. Kill Yusuf or cast him out to some other land, so that the favor of your father may be give to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending repentance before committing the sin). One from among them said: “Kill not Yusuf, but if you must do something, throw him down to the bottom of a well, he will be picked up by some caravan of travelers.” [Yusuf 12:8-10]

His father and his brothers

  • They said: “O our father! Why do you not trust us with Yusuf, when we are indeed his wellwishers? Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily we will take care of him.”
  • He (Jacob) said: “Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away. I fear lest a wolf should devour him, while you are careless of him.”
  • They said: “If a wolf devours him, while we are Usbah (a strong group) (to guard him), then surely we are the losers.“ [Yusuf 12:11-14]

Ya’qub’s answer

  • Jacob suggested a point, which had not occurred to them in their discussion. He feared that desert wolves would eat him. What he meant? Maybe the wolves within them or the wild wolves?
  • They coaxed their father to send Yusuf with them; he agreed under pressure.

Yusuf with his brothers now

  • They were excited that they could now get rid of Yusuf for after this they could stand a better chance of receiving their father’s affection.
  • They went directly to the well on the pretext of drinking water. One of them put his arms around him and held him tightly. Startled by this unusual behavior, Yusuf struggled to free himself. More brothers rushed to hold him. One of them removed his shirt
  • Some more joined in to lift Yusuf up and cast him into the deep well. Then Allah revealed to Yusuf that he was safe and should not fear, for he would meet them again someday to remind them of what they had done. There was water in the well, which buoyed Yusuf’s body, so he was not harmed.

His brothers killed a sheep

  • They killed a sheep, then soaked Yusuf’s shirt in its blood. They took an oath to keep their deed a close secret.
  • And they came to their father in the early part of the night weeping. [Yusuf 12:16]
  • It was dark night, broken by the crying of 10 men. The father is sitting in his house when they entered. The darkness of night covering the darkness of their hearts and the darkness of their lies struggling to come out.
  • Jacob wondered aloud: “Why this weeping? Has anything happened to our flock?” They answered crying: “O our father! We went racing with one another, and left Yusuf by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth. [Yusuf 12:17]

Their excuses

  • We were surprised after returning from the race that Yusuf was in the belly of the wolf. We did not see him! You will not believe us even though we are truthful! we are telling you what happened! The wolf has eaten Yusuf! This is Yusuf’s shirt. We found it soiled with blood, and did not find Yusuf! They brought his shirt stained with false blood. [Yusuf 12:18]

Their father’s remarks

  • Ya’qub knew that his beloved son was still alive and that his other sons were lying.
  • He held the blood stained in his hands, spread it out and remarked: “What a merciful wolf! he ate up my beloved son without tearing his shirt!” Their faces turned red when he demanded more information, but each swore by Allah that he was telling the truth
  • The brokenhearted father burst into tears: “Nay! But your own selves have made up a tale. So for me patience is more fitting. It is Allah Alone whose Help can be sought against that which you assert.” [Yusuf 12:18]

Yusuf in the dark well in silence

  • He managed to find a stone ledge to hold onto.
  • His fearful thoughts: What would happen to him? Where would he find food? Why had his own brothers turned against him? Would his father know of his plight?

Yusuf remembered his father

  • His father’s smile flashed before him recalling the love and affection he had always shown him.
  • He prayed to Allah for salvation. Gradually his fear began to subside. Allah was testing him with a great misfortune in order to infuse in him a spirit of patience and courage. He surrendered himself to the will of his Lord

A caravan stopped by the well

  • The caravan was a long line of camels, horses, and men on its way to Egypt. The merchants halted at this famous well for water
  • A man lowered in his bucket. Yusuf was startled by the bucket hurtling down and grabbed hold of it before it could land in the water. As the man began to haul he felt the load unusually heavy, so he peeped into the well. What he saw shocked him; a man was clinging to the rope!

Yusuf became a slave

  • He held the rope tightly and shouted to his friends: “Better give me a hand fellows! Looks like I found real treasure in the well!” His companions rushed to the well and helped him to pull out the stranger holding onto the rope Standing before them was a healthy, handsome youth, beaming with an angelic smile
  • They saw in him a handsome prize, for money was all that mattered to them. Immediately, they clapped iron shackles on his feet and took him to Egypt

Yusuf sold in Egypt

  • All over the Egyptian city the news spread that an unusually handsome, robust young slave was on sale. People gathered by the hundreds at the slave market. Some were spectators, others were bidders the elite and the rich, each one craning his neck to view the handsome specimen.
  • The auctioneer had a field day as the bidding went wild, each buyer trying to outbid the other. Eventually, the Aziz, the chief minister of Egypt, outbid all the others and took Yusuf to his mansion.
  • And there came a caravan of travelers; they sent their water drawer, and he let down his bucket into the well. He said: “What a good news! Here is a boy.” So they hid him as merchandise (a slave). And Allah was the All Knower of what they did. They sold him for a low price, for a few Dirhams (for a few silver coins). They were of those who regarded him insignificant. He (the man) from Egypt who bought him said to his wife: “Make his stay comfortable, may be he will profit us or we shall ado[t him as a son.” Thus did We establish Yusuf in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of events. [Yusuf 12:19-21]

Yusuf became a property of Aziz

  • Aziz was an important personage, one of the ruling class of Egypt.
  • Love for Yusuf was thrust into the heart of the man who bought him. Therefore, Yusuf was pleasantly surprised when Aziz ordered his men to remove the heavy shackles from his swollen feet.
  • He was also surprised when he told Yusuf not to betray his trust. He would not be ill-treated if he behaved himself. Yusuf smiled at his benefactor, thanked him, and promised to be loyal.
  • Yusuf felt at ease, for at last he was sheltered and would be well cared for. He thanked Allah over and over and wondered at the mysterious of life. Now he was moving freely in a luxurious mansion with enough food to enjoy. However, his heart ached with longing for his parents and brother Benjamin, and he shed tears daily
  • Yusuf was made the personal attendant of the chief minister’s wife. He was obedient and ever-obliging. With his pleasant manners and charming behavior, he won everybody’s heart

Yusuf’s beauty

  • His handsomeness became the talk of the town. People referred to him as the most attractive man they had ever seen and wrote poetry about him. His face carried immaculate beauty. The purity of his inner soul and his heart showed in his face, increasing his beauty.
  • People from afar came to the city to have a glimpse of him. The prettiest of maidens and the richest of ladies wanted to possess him, but not once did he show haughtiness or conceit. He was always humble and polite

When did he became a prophet?

  • The days passed and Yusuf grew. Almighty Allah said: And when he (Yusuf) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood), thus We reward the doers of good.” [Yusuf 12:22]
  • He was given wisdom in affairs and knowledge of life and its conditions. He was given the art of conversation, captivating those who heard him. He was given nobility and self restraint, which made him an irresistible personality

What did Aziz know?

  • His master soon knew that Allah had graced him with Yusuf. He understood that Yusuf was the most honest, straightforward and noble person he had met in his life.
  • Therefore, he put Yusuf in charge of his household, honored him, treated him as a son.

Zulaikha’s obession: his 2nd trial

  • She was Aziz’s wife who watched Yusuf from day to day. She sat with him, talked with him, listened to him… Her wonder increased over the passion of time.
  • She could not resist the handsome Yusuf. Her obsession with him caused her sleepless nights. She fell in love with him. It was hard for her to be so close to a man, yet be unable to hold him.
  • She was not a wayward woman, for in her position she could get any man she desired. By all accounts, she must have been a very pretty and intelligent lady. Why would the chief minister have chosen her of all the pretty women in the kingdom? Although she bore him no child, he would not take another wife, as he loved her passionately.
  • 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.” He said: “I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zalimun (wrong, evildoers) will never be successful.” 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 evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves. [Yusuf 12:23-24]

There is temptation and resistance

  • It means that she had tried to seduce him. If had he not seen the proof of Allah, he would have been seduced.
  • This is in keeping with the infallibility of prophets, as it suits the words, which immediately follow: Thus it was that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves. [Yusuf 12:24]. The verse proves that Yusuf was an upright worshipper of Allah and testifies to his rescue from the authority of Satan.
  • His refusal only heightened her passion. He moved to the door to escape. She ran after him and caught hold of his shirt, like a drowning person clinging to the boat. In her tugging, she tore his shirt and held the torn piece in her hand. They reached the door together. It opened suddenly; there stood her husband and a relative of hers.
  • So they raced with one another to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back. They both found her lord (her husband) at the door. [Yusuf 12:25]

Her accusation

  • The woman immediately changed her tone to anger. Showing the torn piece of the shirt in her hand, she asked her husband: “What is the recompense (punishment) for him who intended an evil design against your wife, except that he be put in prison or a painful torment?” [Yusuf 12:25]
  • She was now accusing Yusuf of molesting her. To give the impression that she was innocent and a victim of Yusuf’s sexual desire Though bewildered Yusuf denied it: “It was she that sought to seduce me.” [Yusuf 12:26]

The shirt as evidence

  • The shirt was passed from hand to hand, while she watched. The witness (her cousin) looked at it and found that it was torn at the back. The evidence showed that she was guilty.
  • The disappointed husband remarked to his wife: “Surely, it is a plot of you women! Certainly mighty is you plot!” [Yusuf 12:28]

Aziz’s apology and Zulaikha’s asking forgiveness

  • Aziz apologized to Yusuf for his wife’s indecency. He also instructed her to beg Yusuf’s forgiveness for accusing him falsely.
  • He (Yusuf) said: “It was she that sought to seduce me,” and a witness of her household bore witness saying: “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!” So when he (the husband) saw his (Yusuf’s) shirt was torn at the back; (her husband) said: “Surely, it is a plot of you women! Certainly mighty is your plot! O Yusuf! Turn away from this! (O woman)! Ask forgiveness for your sin. Verily, you were of the sinful.” [Yusuf 12:26-29]

The breaking news spread like fire

  • An incident like this cannot remain a secret in a house filled with servants, and the story spread. Women began to see her behavior as scandalous. They remarked: “The wife of Al-Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man, indeed she loves him violently; verily, we see her in plain error.” [Yusuf 12:30]
  • Naturally their gossip distressed Zulaikha. She honestly believed that it was not easy for any women to resist a man as handsome as Yusuf.
  • The exclusive banquet: To prove her helplessness, she planned to subject the women to the same temptation she faced. She invited them to a lavish banquet. No one so invited would want to miss the honor of dining with her.
  • Besides, they secretly harbored the desire to meet the handsome Yusuf face to face
  • Some of her close friends jokingly said they would come only if she introduced them to Yusuf. The invitation was restricted to ladies. The banquet began, laughter and mirth abounded

Zulaikha’s confession of love for Yusuf

  • Etiquette dictated that the ladies not mention the topic of Yusuf. They were shocked, therefore, when Zulaikha opened the topic. “I have heard of those who say I have fallen in love with the young Hebrew man, Yusuf.”
  • Silence fell upon the banquet. At once all the guests hands stopped, and all eyes fell on the chief minister’s wife. She said, while giving orders for the fruit to be served: “I admit that he is charming fellow. I do not deny that I love him. I have loved him for a long time.” The confession of the chief minister’s wife removed the tension among the ladies.

Yusuf presented himself to them

  • After finishing their dinner, the guests began cutting their fruit. At that very moment she summoned Yusuf to make his appearance. He entered the hall gracefully, his gaze lowered.
  • Zulaikha called him by his name and he raised his head. The guests were astonished and dumbfounded. His face was shining and full of angelic beauty. It reflected complete innocence, so much so that one could feel the peace of mind in the depth of his soul.
  • They cut their hands repeatedly. They exclaimed in astonishment while continuing to cut the fruit. All their eyes were on Yusuf. So it was that the women began to cut their palms absentmindedly without feeling that they had cut them. His presence was so effective that they did not feel any pain.
  • One of the ladies gasped: “Good gracious!” Another whispered: “This is not a mortal being!” Another stammered, patting her hair: “This is but a noble angel.”
  • So when she heard of their accusation, she sent for them and prepared a banquet for them; she gave each one of them a knife (to cut the foodstuff with), and she said (to Yusuf): “Come out before them.” Then, when they saw him, they exalted him (at his beauty) and (in their astonishment) cut their hands. They said: “how perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)! No man is this! This is none other than a noble angel!“ [Yusuf12:31]

She didn’t deny her plan of seduction

  • Then the chief minister’s wife stood up and announced: “This is the one for whom I have been blamed. I do not deny that I tempted him. You have been enchanted by Yusuf, and see what has happened to your hands. I have tempted him, and if he does not do what I want of him he shall be imprisoned.“
  • She said: “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.” He said: “O my Lord! Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one of those who commit sin and deserve blame or those who do deeds of the ignorant.” So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot. Verily he is the All Hearer, the All Knower. [Yusuf 12:32-34]

His imprisonment – 3rd test

  • That evening, Zulaikha convinced her husband that the only way to save her honor was to put Yusuf in prison. Otherwise she would not be able to control herself or to safeguard his prestige.
  • The chief minister knew Yusuf was absolutely innocent, that he was a young man of honor, a loyal servant, and he loved him for these reasons. It was not an easy decision for him to put an innocent man behind bars. However, he was left with no choice.
  • He reasoned that Yusuf’s honor would also be safeguarded if he was kept out of Zulaikha’s sight. That night, with a heavy heart, the chief minister sent Yusuf to prison

Ability to interpret dreams

  • During this period Allah blessed him with an extraordinary gift – the ability to interpret dream.
  • At about the same time 2 other men landed in the prison, the King’s cupbearer and the King’s cook. They sensed that Yusuf was not a common criminal, for an aura of piety glowed on his face.
  • Both men had vivid dreams. The cupbearer dreamed that he was serving the king wine. The cook dreamed that he stood in a place with bread on his head, and two birds were eating the bread. They went to Yusuf and told him their dreams, asking him to give them their meaning

His interpretation came true

  • First, Yusuf called them to Allah. The cook would be crucified until he died. The cupbearer would return to the service of the king. Yusuf told the cupbearer to remember him to the king and to say that there was a wronged soul called Yusuf in prison. What he predicted did happen; the cook was crucified and the cupbearer returned to the palace. After the cupbearer returned to service, Satan made him forget to mention Yusuf’s name to the king. Therefore, Yusuf remained in prison for a few years, but he made patience his own, praying to Allah.
  • And there entered with him two young men in the prison. One of them said: “Verily, I saw myself (in a dream) pressing wine.” The other said: “Verily, I saw myself (in a dream) carrying bread on my head and birds were eating thereof.” They said: “Inform us of the interpretation of this. Verily, we think you are one of those doers of good.”O  two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he (as a servant) will pour out wine for his lord (King or master) to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.” And he said to the one whom he knew to be saved: “Mention me to your lord (your King, so to get me out of the prison).” But Satan made him forget to mention it to his lord (or Satan made Yusuf to forget the remembrance of his Lord (Allah) as to ask for His Help, instead of others). So Yusuf stayed in prison a few more years. [Yunus 12:36-42]

King was terrified of his bad dream

  • He sees himself on the banks of the Nile river. The water is receding before him, becoming mere mud. The fish begin to skip and jump in the mud. 7 fat cows come out of the river followed by 7 lean cows. The 7 lean ones devour the 7 fat ones. The 7 ears of green grain grow on the riverbanks and disappear in the mud. On the same spot grow 7 dry ears of grain.
  • The king awoke frightened, shocked, and depressed, not knowing what all these meant.
  • He looked for its meaning. He sent for the sorcerers, priests and ministers, and told them his dream. The sorcerers said: “This is a mixed up dream. How can any of that be? It is a nightmare.” The priests said: “Perhaps his majesty had a heavy supper.” The chief minister said: “Could it be that his majesty was exposed and did not draw the blanket up at night?” The king’s jester said, jokingly: “His majesty is beginning to grow old, and so his dreams are confused.“ Their unanimous conclusion: only a nightmare
  • The cupbearer heard about it. He recollected the dream he had in prison and compared it to the king’s dream, and, therefore Yusuf came to mind. He ran to the king to tell him about Yusuf, who was the only one capable to interpreting the dream. The cupbearer said: “He had asked me to remember him to you, but I forgot.” The king sent the cupbearer to ask Yusuf about the dream.

Yusuf interpreted the King’s dream

  • “There will be 7 years of abundance. If the land is properly cultivated, there will be an excess of good harvest, more than the people will need. This should be stored. Thereafter, 7 years of famine will follow, during which time the excess grain could be used.”
  • He advised that during the famine they should save some grain to be used for seed for the next harvest. “After 7 years of drought, there will be a year during which water will be plentiful. If the water is properly used, grapevines and olive trees will grow in abundance, providing plenty of grapes and olive oil.“
  • The cupbearer hurried back with the good news and the king was fascinated.
  • And the king of Egypt said: “Verily, I saw in a dream seven fat cows, whom seven lean cows were devouring, and seven green ears of corn and seven others dry. O notables! Explain to me my dream if it be that you can interpret dreams.” They said: “Mixed up false dreams and we are not skilled in the interpretation of dreams.” Then the man who was released (one of the two who were in prison), now at length remembered and said: “I will tell you its interpretation, so send me forth.” (He said): “O Yusuf, the man of truth! Explain to us (the dream) of seven fat cows whom seven lean ones were devouring, and of seven green ears of corn and seven others dry, that I may return to the people, and that they may know.” Yusuf said: “For seven consecutive years, you shall sow as usual and that the harvest which you reap you shall leave in ears, all –except a little of it which you may eat. Then will come after that seven hard years, which will devour what you have laid by in advance for them, all except a little of that which you have guarded (stored). Then thereafter will come a year in which people will have abundant rain and in which they will press wine and oil.” [Yusuf 12:43-49]

Yusuf to be released from prison

  • The king was greatly astonished. Who could this person be? He commanded that Yusuf be set free from prison and presented to him at once. The king’s envoy went to fetch him immediately, but Yusuf refused to leave the prison unless his innocence was proven. Perhaps they accused him of cutting the ladies hands, or trying to rape them. Perhaps any other false accusation was made. We do not know exactly what was said to the people to justify Yusuf’s sentence to prison. The envoy returned to the king. The king asked him: “Where is Yusuf? Did I not command you to fetch him?“
  • Yusuf refused to leave. The envoy replied: “He refused to leave until his innocence is established regarding the ladies who cut their hands.” The king ordered: “Bring the wives of the ministers and the wife of the chief minister at once.” The king felt that Yusuf had been harmed unfairly but he did not know exactly how. The wife of the chief minister came with the other ministers’ wives.
  • The king with the ministers’ wives. The king asked: “What is the story of Yusuf? What do you know about him? Is it true that…?” One of the ladies interrupted the king exclaiming: “Allah forbid!“ A second said: “We know of no evil he has done.” A third said: “He enjoys the innocence of angels.“
  • The eyes of everyone turned to the wife of the chief minister. She now wore a wrinkled face and had lost weight. She had been overwhelmed by sorrow over Yusuf while he was in prison. She boldly confessed that she had lied and he had told the truth. She became a believer by accepting his mistake.
  • And the king said: “Bring him to me.” But, when the messenger came to him (Yusuf) said: “Return to your lord, and ask him, ‘what happened to the women who cut their hands? Surely, my Lord (Allah) is Well Aware of their plot.” (The king) said (to the women): “What was your affair when you did seek to seduce Yusuf?” The women said: “Allah forbid! No evil know we against him!” The wife of Al Aziz said: “Now the truth is manifest to all, it was I who sought to seduce him and he is surely one of the truthful.” (Then Yusuf said: “I asked for this inquiry) in order that he (Al-Aziz) may know that I betrayed him not in secret. And, verily! Allah guides not the plot of the betrayers. And I free not myself (from the blame). Verily, the human self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills). Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, most Merciful.” [Yusuf 12:50-53]

Yusuf was cleared and became controller of the granaries

  • The king informed Yusuf that his innocence was established. He ordered him to come to the palace for an interview. He recognized his noble qualities. When Yusuf came, the king spoke to him in his tongue. Yusuf’s replies astonished the king with his cultural refinement and wide knowledge. Then the conversation turned to the dream.
  • Yusuf advised the King to start planning for years of famine ahead. He informed him that the famine would affect not only Egypt but the neighboring countries as well. The king offered him a high position. Yusuf asked to be made controller of the granaries, so that he could guard the nation’s harvest and thereby safeguard it during the anticipated drought.
  • And the king said: “Bring him to me that I may attach him to my person.” Then, when he spoke to him, he said: “Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and full trusted.” Yusuf said: “Set me over the store houses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge.” (as a minister of finance in Egypt, in place of Al-Aziz who was dead at that time). Thus did We give full authority to Yusuf in the land, to take possession therein, as when or where he likes. We bestow of Our Mercy on whom We please, and We make not to be lost the reward of the good-doers). [Yusuf 12:54-57]
  • By this Yusuf did not mean to seize an opportunity or personal gain; he merely wanted to rescue hungry nations for a period of 7 years. It was a sheer self-sacrifice on his part.
  • During these years: The 7 good years, Yusuf had full control over the cultivation, harvesting, and storage of crops.The following 7 bad years, drought followed and famine spread throughout the region, including Canaan. Yusuf advised the king that as his kingdom was blessed with reserved grain, he should sell his grain to the needy nations at a fair price. The king agreed, and the good news spread all over the region.

Ya’qub sent his 10 sons

  • They came to Egypt to purchase provisions. Yusuf heard about them who had come from afar and who could not speak the language of the Egyptians. When they called on him to purchase their needs, Yusuf immediately recognized his brothers, but they did not know him.
  • Yusuf received them warmly. After supplying them with provisions, he asked where they had come from. They explained: “We are 11 brothers, the children of a noble prophet. The youngest is at home tending to the needs of our aging father.”
  • On hearing this, Yusuf’s eyes filled with tears; his longing for home swelled up in his heart, as well as his longing for his beloved parents and his loving brother Benjamin. “Are you truthful people?” Yusuf asked them. Perturbed they replied, “What reason should we have to sate an untruth?”
  • “If what you say is true then bring your brother as proof and I will reward you with double rations. But if you do not bring him to me, it would be better if you do not return,” Yusuf warned them. They assured him that they would gladly fulfill his command but that they would have to get their father’s permission. As an inducement to return with their brother, Yusuf ordered his servant to secretly place the purse, with the money they had paid, into one of their grain sacks.
  • And Yusuf’s brethren came and they entered unto him, and he recognized them, but they recognized him not. And when he had furnished them forth with provisions (according to their need), he said: “Bring me a brother of yours from your father; (he meant Benjamin). See you not that I give full measure, and that I am the best of the hosts? But if you bring him onto me, there shall be no measure of corn for you with me, nor shall you come near me.” They said: “We shall try to get permission for him from his father, and verily, we shall do it.” And (Yusuf) told his servants to put their money (with which they had bought the corn) into their bags, so that they might know it when they go back to their people, in order that they might come back. [Yusuf 12:58-62]

The brothers returned to their father

  • Before they could unload the camels, they greeted him, then reproved him: “We were denied some supplies because you did not let your son go with us. They would not give us food for absentees. Why would you not entrust him with us? Please, send him with us, and we shall take care of him.” Ya’qub became sad and told them: “I will not permit Benjamin to travel with you. I will not part with him, for I entrusted Yusuf to you and you failed me.”
  • Later, when they opened their grain sacks, they were surprised to find the money purse returned intact. They rushed to their father: “Look, father! The noble official has returned our money; this is surely proof that he would not harm our brother and it can only benefit us.” But Jacob refused to send Benjamin with them. After some time, when they had no more grain, Jacob asked them to travel to Egypt for more. They reminded him of the warning the Egyptian official had given them.
  • They must take Benyamin with them. They could not return without Benjamin. Ya’qub agreed, but not before he extracted a pledge from them. “I will not send him with you unless you give me a pledge in Allah’s name that you shall bring him back to me as safely as you take him.” They gave their solemn pledge. He reminded them: “Allah is witness to your pledge.”
  • So when they returned to their father, they said: “O our father! No more measure of grain shall we get (unless we take our brother). So send our brother with us, and we shall get our measure and truly we will guard him.” He said: “Can I entrust him to you except as I entrust his brother (Yusuf) to you aforetime? But Allah is the best to guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those Who show mercy.” So when they returned to their father, they said: “O our father! No more measure of grain shall we get (unless we take our brother). So send our brother with us, and we shall get our measure and truly we will guard him.” He said: “Can I entrust him to you except as I entrust his brother (Yusuf) to you aforetime? But Allah is the best to guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those Who show mercy.” And when they opened their bags, they found their money had been returned to them. They said: “O our father! What more can we desire? This, our money has been returned to us, so we shall get more food for our family, and we shall guard our brother and add one more measure of a camel’s load. This quantity is easy (for the king to give).” He (Ya’qub) said: “I will not send him with you until you swear a solemn oath to me in Allah’s Name, that you will bring him back to me unless you are yourselves surrounded (by enemies, etc). And when they had sworn their solemn oath, he said: “Allah is the Witness over what we have said.” [Yusuf 12:63-66]

To enter in different gates

  • He then advised them to enter the city through several different gates. And he said: “O my sons! Do not enter by one gate, but by different gates, and I cannot avail you against Allah at all. Verily! The decision rests only with Allah. In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him.” [Yusuf 12:67]
  • Ya’qub blessed them on their departure and prayed to Allah for their protection. The brothers undertook the long journey to Egypt, taking good care of Benyamin.
  • Yusuf welcomed them heartily. With difficulty, he suppressed the desire to embrace Benyamin that arose within him. He prepared a feast for them and seated them in pairs. Yusuf arranged to sit next to his beloved brother Benyamin, who began to weep. Yusuf asked him why he was crying. He replied: “If my brother Yusuf had been here, I would have sat next to him.”

Yusuf and Benyamin

  • That night, when they were alone in a room, Yusuf asked whether he would have him for a brother. Benyamin respectfully answered that he regarded his host as a wonderful person, but he could never take the place of his brother.
  • Yusuf broke down, and amidst flowing tears said; “My loving brother, I am the brother who was lost and whose name you are constantly repeating. Fate has brought us together after many years of separation. This is Allah’s favor. But let it be a secret between us for the time being.” Benyamin flung his arms around Yusuf and both brothers shed tears of joy.

 The accusation

  • The next day, while their bags were being filled with grains to load onto the camels, Yusuf ordered one of his attendants to place the king’s gold cup which was used for measuring the grain into Benyamin’s saddlebag. When the brothers were ready to set out, the gates were locked. The court crier shouted: “O you travelers, you are thieves!” The accusation was most unusual, and the people gathered around Yusuf’s brothers.
  • The King’s gold cup: “What have you lost?” his brothers inquired. A soldier said: “The king’s golden cup. Whoever can trace it we will give a beast load of grain.” Yusuf’s brothers said with all innocence: “We have not come here to corrupt the land and steal.” Yusuf’s officers said (as he had instructed them): What punishment should you choose for the thief?” The brothers answered: “According to our law, whoever steals becomes a slave to the owner of the property.”The officers agreed: “We shall apply your law instead of the Egyptian law, which provides for imprisonment.”
  • The search: The chief officer ordered his soldiers to start searching the caravan. Yusuf was watching the incident from high upon his throne. He had given instructions for Benyamin’s bag to be the last to be searched. When they did not find the cup in the bags of the 10 older brothers, the brothers sighed in relief.
  • There remained only the bag of their youngest brother. Yusuf said, intervening for the first time, that there was no need to search his saddle as he did not look like a thief. His brothers affirmed: “We will not move an inch unless his saddle is searched as well. We are the sons of a noble man, not thieves.”
  • The cup in Benyamin’s sack. The soldiers reached in their hands and pulled out the king’s cup. The brothers exclaimed: “If he steals now, a brother of his has stolen before.” Yusuf heard their resentment with his own ears and was filled with regret. Yet, he swallowed his own resentment, keeping it within.
  • Silence fell upon them after these remarks by the brothers. Then they forgot their secret satisfaction and thought of Ya’qub. They had taken an oath with him that they would not betray his son. They began to beg Yusuf for mercy. “Yusuf, O minister! Take one of us instead. He is the son of a good man, and we can see you are a good man.”

Yusuf’s reaction

  • They began to beg Yusuf for mercy. “Yusuf, O minister! Take one of us instead. He is the son of a good man, and we can see you are a good man.” Yusuf answered calmly: “How can you want to set free the man who has stolen the king’s cup? It would be sinful.”
  • The brothers went on pleading for mercy. However, the guards said that the king had spoke and his word was law. Judah was too much worried and told the others: “We promised our father in the name of Allah not to fail him. I will, therefore, stay behind and will only return if my father permits me to do so.”
  • And when they entered according to their father’s advice, it did not avail them in the least against (the Will of) Allah, it was but a need of Ya’qub’s inner self which he discharged. And verily, he was endowed with knowledge because We had taught him, but most men know not. And when they went in before Yusuf, he betook his brother (Benyamin) to himself and said: “Verily! I am your brother, so grieve not for what they used to do.”
  • So when he had furnished them forth with their provisions, he put the golden bowl in his brother’s bag. Then a crier cried: “O you in the caravan! Surely, you are thieves!” They, turning towards them said: “What is that you have missed?” They said: “We have missed the golden bowl of the king and for him who produces it is the reward of a camel load; I will be bound by it.” They said: “By Allah! Indeed you know that we came not to make mischief in the land, and we are no thieves!”
  • They (Yusuf’s brothers) said: “The penalty should be that he, in whose bag it is found, should be held for the punishment of the crime. Thus we punish the wrongdoers!” So he (Yusuf) began the search in their bags before the bag of his brother. Then he brought it out of his brother’s bag. Thus did We plan for Yusuf. He could not take his brother by the law of the king (as a slave), except that Allah willed it. So Allah made the brothers to bind themselves with their way of ‘punishment, i.e. enslaving of a thief.’ We raise to degrees whom We please, but over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing (Allah).
  • They (Yusuf’s brothers) said: “If he steals, there was a brother of his (Yusuf) who did steal before him.” But these things did Yusuf keep in himself, revealing not the secrets to them. He said (within himself): “You are in the worst case, and Allah knows best the truth of what you assert!”
  • They said: “O ruler of the land! Verily, he has an old father who will grieve for him, so take one of us in his place. Indeed we think that you are one of the good doers.” He said: “Allah forbid! That we should take anyone but him with whom we found our property. Indeed if we did so, we shall be wrongdoers.”
  • So, when they despaired of him, they held a conference in private. The eldest among them said: “Know you not that your father did take an oath from you in Allah’s name, and before this did fail in your duty with Yusuf? Therefore, I will not leave this land until my father permits me, or Allah decides my case (by releasing Benyamin) and He is the Best of the judges.” [Yusuf 12:68-80]

Yusuf informed Benyamin about it

  • The brothers left enough provisions behind for Judah, who stayed at a tavern awaiting the fate of Benyamin. In the meantime, Yusuf kept Benyamin in his house as his personal guest and told him how he had devised the plot to put the king’s cup in his bag, in order to keep him behind, so as to protect him.
  • He was also glad that Judah had stayed behind, as he was a good hearted brother. Yusuf secretly arranged to watch over Judah’s well-being

The brothers with their father

  • Yusuf’s plan in sending the others back was to test their sincerity, to see if they would come back for the 2 brothers they had left behind. When they arrived home, they entered upon their father calling: “O our father! Your son has stolen!“
  • He was puzzled, scarcely believing the news. He was overwhelmed with sorrow and his eyes wept tears. “Patience be with me; perhaps Allah will return all of them to me. He is Most Knowing, Most Wise.“
  • “Return to your father and say: ‘O our father! Verily, your son (Benyamin) has stolen, and we testify not except according to what we know, and we could not known the unseen! And ask the people of the town where we have been, and the caravan in which we returned and indeed we are telling the truth.” He (Ya’qub) said: “Nay, but your ownselves have beguiled you into something. So patience is most fitting for me. Maybe Allah will bring them back all to me. Truly He! Only He is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” And he turned away from them and said: “Alas, my grief for Yusuf!” And he lost his sight because of the sorrow that he was suppressing. [Yusuf 12:81-84]

Ya’qub trusted Allah

  • The father was deeply hurt. Only prayer could comfort him and strengthen his faith and patience. Weeping all those years for his beloved son Yusuf – and now one more of his best sons had been snatched from him. Ya’qub almost lost his sight.
  • The other sons pleaded with him: “O father, you are a noble prophet and a great messenger of Allah. Unto you descended revelation and people received guidance and faith from you. Why are you destroying yourself in this way?”
  • Ya’qub’s reply: He said: “Rebuking me will not lessen my grief. Only the return of my sons will comfort me. My sons, go in search of Yusuf and his brother; do not despair of Allah’s mercy.“
  • They said: “By Allah! You will never cease remembering Yusuf until you become weak with old age, or until you be of the dead.” He said: “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you know not. O my sons! Go you and inquire about Yusuf and his brother and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” [Yusuf 12:85-87]

The 10 brothers sent out for Egypt

  • The brothers, poor and depressed, were on their way to see the chief minister. On reaching Egypt, they took Judah. Then at the end, they called on Yusuf, to whom they pleaded, begged, asked alms of him, appealing to his heart, reminding him that Allah rewards alms givers.
  • O ruler of the land! A hard time has hit us and our family, and we have brought but poor capital, so pay us full measure and be charitable to us. Truly, Allah does reward the charitable.” [Yusuf 12:88]

Yusuf spoke their native tongue

  • At this moment, in the midst of their plight, Yusuf spoke to them in their native tongue saying: “Do you know what you did with Yusuf and his brother when you were ignorant?” They said: “Are you indeed Yusuf?” He said: “I am Yusuf, and he is my brother (Benyamin). Allah has indeed been Gracious to us. Verily, he who fears Allah with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, Allah makes not the reward of the good doers to be lost.”

Yusuf revealed the truth

  • They said: “By Allah! Indeed Allah has preferred you above us, and we certainly have been sinners.” [Yusuf 12:89-91]
  • The brothers began to tremble with fear, but Yusuf comforted them: “No reproach on you this day, may Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!” [Yusuf 12:92]
  • Yusuf embraced them, and together they wept with joy. It was not possible for Yusuf to leave his responsible office without proper replacement, so he advised his brothers: “Go with this shirt of mine, and cast it over the face of my father, he will become clear-sighted, and bring to me all your family.” [Yusuf 12:93]

The brothers headed back home

  • And so the caravan headed back for Palestine. The old man is sitting in his room; tears have been flowing down his cheeks. He stands up all of a sudden, dresses and goes out to his son’s wives. Then he lifts up his face to heaven and sniffs the air.
  • The wife of the eldest son remarked: “Ya’qub has come out of his room today.” The women inquired about what was amiss. There was a hint of a smile on his face
  • The others asked him: “How do you feel today?” He answered: “I can smell Yusuf in the air.” The wives left him alone, saying to one another that there was no hope for the old man. “He will die of weeping over Yusuf. Did he talk about Yusuf’s shirt? “I do not know. He said he could smell him; perhaps he has gone mad.”
  • That day the old man wanted a cup of milk to break his fast, for he had been fasting. At night he changed his clothes. The caravan was traveling in the desert with Yusuf’s shirt hidden among the grain. It neared the old man’s estate. He gesticulated in his room, and then he prayed a long time, lifting his hands to heaven and sniffing the air. He was weeping as the shirt was nearing him.
  • And when the caravan departed, their father said: “I do indeed feel the smell of Yusuf, if only you think me not a dotard (a person who has weakness of mind because of old age).” They said: “By Allah! Certainly, you are in your old error.” Then, when the bearer of the glad tidings arrived, he cast the shirt over his face, and he became clear sighted. He said: “Did I not say to you, I know from Allah that which you know not.” They said: “O our father! Ask Forgiveness from Allah for our sins, indeed we have been sinners.” [Yusuf 12:94-97]

The interpretation of the dream

  • He said: “I will ask my Lord for forgiveness for you, verily, He! Only He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.”
  • Then, when they entered unto Yusuf, he betook his parents to himself and said: “Enter Egypt, if Allah will, in security.”
  • And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate. And he said: “O my father! This is the interpretation of my dream of old! My Lord has made it come true! He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of prison, and brought you all here out of the Bedouin life, after Satan had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will. Truly He! Only He is the All Knowing, the All-Wise.” [Yusuf 12:98-100]

Yusuf prayed to Allah

  • Consider his feelings now that his dream has come true. He prays to Allah: “My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me the interpretation of my dreams; The only Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Protector (Helper, Supporter, Guardian, etc) in this world and in the Hereafter, cause me to die as a Muslim and join me with the righteous.” [Yusuf 12:101
  • Yusuf arranged an audience with the King for himself and his family, to ask his permission for them to settle in Egypt. The king was happy to have him remain with his household. Yusuf prostrated to Allah in gratitude.

Migration of Yusuf’s family

  • When his family migrated to Egypt, they were only 86. It reached to 600.000 at the time of Musa.
  • They are now called the Yahudi. The real Egyptians were the Coptics.
  • The Yahudis were treated as slaves at the time of Al-Walib Bin Mus’ab (the Pharaoh at that time)… tTime of the prophethood of Musa and Harun.

The Tribes (Al-Asbat)

  • Refers to the 12 sons of Ya’qub and/or their generations.
  • They do NOT mean the “Jews” but refers to the children of Ya’qub bin Ishaq bin Ibrahim.
  • In the Quran, there are 43 references to Banū Israel (the Islamic term for the Israelites, meaning the “Children of Israel.”
  • There is a Surah (chapter) in the Qur’an titled Bani Israel, which is also known as Al-Isra (The Night Journey”). This Surah was revealed in the year before Hijrah and takes its name from verse 4.
  • Starting from verse 40 in Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) is the story of Bani Israel.
  • Finally, there is a verse in which Moses addresses his followers as “Muslims” meaning those who submit to God. And of Moses’ folk there is a community who lead with truth and establish justice therewith. We divided them into twelve tribes, nations; and We inspired Moses, when his people asked him for water, saying: Smite with thy staff the rock! And there gushed forth there from twelve springs, so that each tribe knew their drinking-place. And we caused the white cloud to overshadow them and sent down for them the manna and the quails (saying): Eat of the good things wherewith we have provided you. They wronged Us not, but they were wont to wrong themselves. [Al-Araf 7:158-159]

[Main source: Stories of the Prophets/Darussalam; other sources]

Isaac and Jacob

Prophets Ishaq (إسحاق) and Ya’qub (يعقوب)
(Aleyhimas Salam – peace be upon them both)

Ibrahim blessed with a second son

  • Later on, Allah blessed Ibrahim with another son, named Ishaq, born of Sarah, his first wife. There was much happiness in the household of Ibrahim after the birth of another beautiful baby boy.
  • Historic sources tell us Ishaq was born 13 years after the birth of his brother Isma’il.

Descendants of Isma’il and Ishaq

  • Through Ishaq, there were many great tribes and the Jews are traced through him. There were many great prophets including Yusuf, Ya’qub, Isa, Musa, Dawud and Yahya. Through Isma’il, there were many great tribes, and the Arabs are traced through him, the most famous being the Quraysh.
  • Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is a descendant of Ibrahim through Isma’il. Therefore, the Jews and the Arabs are actually cousins or brethren of each other.

Birth of Ishaq and Ya’qub

  • No details of Ishaq’s life from the Qur’an but he was mentioned only by some reliable Qur’anic commentators.
  • Allah conveyed to Prophet Ibrahim the birth of elite prophets, Ishaq and Ya’qub. We gave him Ishaq and Ya’qub. Each of them We made a Prophet. And We gave them of Our mercy and assigned to them a high and true renown. [Maryam 19:49-50]
  • When Ibrahim felt that his life was drawing to a close, he wished to see Ishaq get married and have children, but did not want him to marry one of the Canaanites because they were pagans. So he sent a trustworthy servant to Harran in Iraq to choose a bride for him, that was the daughter of Nahur (Ibrahim’s brother): Rebekah Bint Bethuel
  • The People of the Book said that Ishaq was 40 when he married her, during his father’s life. They said she was sterile, so Ishaq prayed to Allah and then she became pregnant, and so they were blessed with twins Esau and Ya’qub.

The first son

  • The first one was called Esau.
  • Arabs called him Al-Eis.
  • He became the father of Rum.
  • He grew up to be a hunter.
  • He provided his aged parents with meat.

The second son

  • The second one was called Ya’qub.
  • His name means Israel (belonging to the people of Israel) which was his nickname.
  • His tribe was Banu Israel (the children of Israel).
  • He was his father’s favorite.
  • He was was appointed by God as a Prophet to his people after the death of his father.

Animosity between the twins

  • Esau disliked the fact that Ya’qub was favored by his father and for having chosen as a Prophet.
  • Animosity grew stronger and stronger amongst the brothers. Esau developed ill-feelings towards him which became so serious that Esau threatened to kill his brother
  • God showered His blessings on him and his kith and kin. And We gave him tidings of the birth of Ishaq, a Prophet of the righteous and We showered Our blessings on him and on Ishaq and of their off-spring are some who do good and some who plainly wrong their ownselves. [As-Saffat 37:113]

Ya’qub’s migration

  • Fearing for her son’s life, Rebekah advised her son to leave and go to her brother Laban. So Ya’qub went to his uncle Laban in the land of Harran and abide with him for a time until his brother’s anger abated.
  • Upon his first night of departure, he found a place to rest for the night. He took a stone and put it under his head and slept. A dream came to him that night.

Ya’qub’s dream

  • He dreamed of a ladder from heaven to earth. Angels were ascending and descending. And the Lord addressed him and said to him, “I will bless you and your offspring and make this land for you and for those who come after you.”
  • When he woke up, he felt joyful from what he had seen in his dream. Ya’qub marked the stone so that he could remember its location. He poured oil on the stone so as to recognize it and called the place “Ayle’s House” (Allah’s House). It was to be the location of Jerusalem later.

Ya’qub’s vows

  • He swore that upon his safe return to his family he would build a temple here for the glory of Allah. This very stone was the location of what would be Jerusalem.
  • He also vowed, for Allah’s sake, to give 1/10 of his property

Ya’qub’s marriage

  • His maternal uncle Haran had two daughters. The elder was Leah (Lia) who was weak-sighted and ugly and the younger was Rachel (Rahil) who was better and lovelier. His uncle said: “It is not our tradition to marry the younger daughter before the elder daughter. However, if you love her sister, work another 7 years and I will marry you to both of them.”
  • His uncle agreed to marry his daughter to him on the condition that Ya’qub pasture his sheep for 7 years. After that, he married Leah first. He had to pasture the sheep for another 7 years to marry Rachel. It was acceptable in their time for a man to marry 2 sisters at the same time.
  • Laban gave a female slave to each daughter. Leah’s slave was Zilpah and Rachel’s slave was Bilha.
  • Almighty Allah compensated Leah’s weakness by giving her 7 children (6 sons and a daughter Dinah). Rachel was barren, so she gave Bilha to her husband until she became pregnant with a son. Leah also gave her slave Zilpah to her husband and she gave birth to 2 sons. Rachel prayed for a son and Allah blessed her a great, honorable, and beautiful son named Joseph (Yusuf).

Another narration

  • Soon after arriving to his uncle’s house, Ya’qub expresses the desire to marry his cousin. Laban agreed, but providing that Ya’qub would stay and work for him for a period of 7 years. So Ya’qub served him for 7 years on promise to marry Rachel with him. At the end of this period the marriage was solemnized.
  • Ya’qub’s first wife was Rachel, from whom he had two sons, Yusuf and Benjamin. Yusuf was, among all his sons, his favorite. Later on, he married Leah and 2 more women and had 12 sons who became the progenitors of 12 tribes.

Ya’qub’s 12 offsprings

  • Ya’qub had 12 sons and 1 daughter. The 12 tribes of the children of Israel are named after his 12 sons.
  • From Leah, there were 6: Rueben (Robil), Simon (Shamun), Levi (Lawi), Judah (Yahudh), Issachar (Isakher), and Zebulun (Zablun) and 1 daughter named Dinah
  • From Zilpah (Leah’s slave), there were 2: Gad and Asher
  • From Rachel, there were 2: Joseph (Yusuf) and Benjamin (Benyamin)
  • From Bilha (Rachel’s slave), there were 2: Dan and Naphtali (Neftali)

Ya’qub’s return to his country Canaan

  • Allah inspired Ya’qub to return to the country of his father and people, and He promised to stand by him. Ya’qub told his family that, and they responded and obeyed him.
  • He then asked his uncle Laban to let him go and visit his family. Laban said: “I have been blessed because of you; ask for whatever money you need.” Ya’qub asked: “Give me each spotted and speckled goat born this year and each black lamb.”
  • Ya’qub came to his father Ishaq and settled with him in the village of Hebron which lies in the land of Canaan where Ibrahim had lived. Ishaq died at the age of 180. His sons buried him with their grandfather in a cave which he had bought. It was said that Ibrahim died at the age of 175.
  • “… We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which had been sent down to Ibrahim, Ismael, Ishaq, Ya’qub and to Al- Asbat (the twelve sons of Ya’qub), and that which has been given to Moses and Jesus and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord …”
  • “ … Or say you that Ibrahim, Ismael, Ishaq, Ya’qub, and Al-Asbat (the twelve sons of Ya’qub) were Jews or Christians? Say: “Do you know better or does Allah know better….that they all were Muslims? …” [Al-Baqarah 2:130-140]
  • When Ya’qub approached the land of Seir [northwest of the dead sea, southwest of Makkah, region in western Saudi Arabia], he sent a messenger ahead with greetings to his brother Esau, asking forgiveness and humbling himself before him.
  • The messenger returned and told Ya’qub that Esau was riding towards him with 400 men. Ya’qub prostrated in humiliation to Allah and asked Him to fulfill what Allah had promised him before.
  • Then Ya’qub prepared a great present for his brother: 200 female goats and 20 male goats, 200 ewes and 20 rams, and 30 milch camels, 40 cows and 2 bulls, 20 female donkeys and 10 male donkeys
  • He commanded his slaves to take the animals, each drove by itself, and pass on ahead of him with a space between the droves. He instructed them: “When you meet my brother Esau he will ask you, ‘to whom do you belong? Where are you going?” You shall say, “They belong to your servant Ya’qub; they are a present to my master Esau. Moreover, he is behind us.”
  • Ya’qub stayed behind with his two wives, his slaves and his children for two nights, then continued walking by night and resting by day.

Ya’qub met Esau

  • When the dawn of the second day came, Ya’qub raised his eyes and saw his brother Esau coming. When Esau saw him, he ran towards him, embraced and kissed him and wept. Ya’qub prostrated 7 times before him for it was their salutation in that time.
  • When Esau raised his eyes and saw the women and children he asked: “Who are these with you?” Ya’qub answered: “They are my family.” They all approached and prostrated before him.
  • Ya’qub asked Esau to accept his gift and insisted until he did so. Esau returned and went in advance before him. Ya’qub and his family followed with the flocks and herds and slaves to the mountains (Seir).

Ya’qub built an altar

  • When he came to Succoth (Sahur), he built a house for his family and shades for his beasts.
  • Then he passed by Jerusalem, the village of Shechem, and camped before the village.
  • He bought a farm from Shcehm Ibn Hamor with 100 goats.
  • He then built an altar called Ayl where Jerusalem stands today.
  • Solomon son of David rebuilt it later on. It is in the place of the stone which he had earlier anointed with oil.

Qualities of Ya’qub

  • He was born at Palestine.
  • He passed his life exactly in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.
  • He had full faith in the Oneness of God and he devoted his life to His worship.
  • He was a man of peace and wisdom, loved and respected by his people.
  • He directed his followers to do good and shun evil.
  • He advised them to keep up prayers and give alms.

Ya’qub’s last words to his sons

  • When he was on his death bed, he called his sons and advised them.
  • “The same did Abraham enjoin upon his sons, and also Ya’qub: O’ my sons! Lo! Allah has chosen for you the true religion, therefore die not save as men who have surrendered (unto Him) or were you present death came to Ya’qub when he said to his sons: What will you worship after me? They said: We shall worship your God, God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishaq, One god and unto Him we have surrendered.” [Al-Baqarah 2:132-133]

[Main source: Stories of the Prophets/Darussalam; other sources]

Isma’il bin Ibrahim

Prophet Isma’il (إسماعيل)
(Aleyhis Salam – peace be upon him)

The family’s journey

  • Ibrahim, his wife Hajr and son Isma’il (still nursing and not yet weaned) went on a long journey. They walked through cultivated land, desert, and mountains until they reached the desert of the Arabian Peninsula. They came to an uncultivated valley with no sign of life (no people, no fruit, no trees, no food, no water…)
  • After he had helped his wife and child to dismount, he left them to a place near the Ka’bah on the spot of Zamzam at the highest place. Their provision: a small amount of food (leather bag containing some dates) and a small water skin containing some water which was hardly enough for 2 days. Then he set out homeward.
  • His wife followed after him asking: “O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything to enjoy?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him: “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He said: “Yes.” She then said: “Then He will not neglect us,” and returned while Ibrahim proceeded onwards.
  • On reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced towards their direction raising both hands, invoking Allah. O Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your Sacred House; in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and O Allah provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks. O our Lord! Certainly, You know what we conceal and what we reveal. Nothing on the earth or in the heavens is hidden from Allah.” [Ibrahim 14:37-38]

Hajr’s searched for help

  • Hajr went on suckling Ismael and drinking from the water she had until it had been used up, she became thirsty and so was her child. She left him in search for help and found Safa which was the nearest mountain. She ascended at the top and started looking at the valley keenly but no one was there
  • So she descended and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble until she crossed the valley and reached the mountain of Marwah. There she stood and started looking expecting to see somebody but no one was there. She repeated that running between Safa and Marwah 7 times.
  • This is the Sa‘y during Umrah and Hajj in commemoration of Hajr.

Zamzam well

  • When she reached Marwah (for the last time), she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said: “O whoever you maybe! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?“
  • And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zamzam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing) till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water skin with water with her hands. Then she drank water and suckled her child.
  • The angel said to her: “Don’t be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.” The House at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when rain came, they flowed to its right and left.
  • She lived in that way until some people from the tribe/family of Jurhum passed as they were coming through the way of Kada.
  • The Prophet ﷺ added: “May Allah bestow mercy on Isma’il’s mother! Had she let the Zamzam flow without trying to control it, or had she not scooped from that water to fill her water skin, Zamzam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.”

The Jurhum tribe

  • They landed in the lower part of Makkah where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said: “This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.”
  • The messengers discovered the source of water and found Hajr sitting near the water. They asked her: “Do you allow us to stay with you?” She replied: “Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.” They agreed to that.
  • Hajr was pleased with the whole situation, as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people, so they settled there.  Later on they sent for their families and settled there. Some became permanent residents there.
  • Isma’il grew up and learned Arabic from them and they loved and admired him for his virtues.

Isma’il to be sacrificed

  • When a Prophet has a dream it is always true. In fact, a prophet’s dream is actually a form of revelation.
  • When Ismail was still a small boy, Ibrahim had a dream on which he was commanded by Allah to sacrifice his son. This dream occurred several times and Ibrahim decided to sacrifice him to Allah; and Isma’il agreed.
  • So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy. And when he was old enough to walk with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you, so look what do you think!” “O my father! Do that which you are commanded Insha Allah, you shall find me of the patient.” Then when they had both submitted themselves to the Will of Allah and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); and We called out to him: “O Ibrahim! You have fulfilled the dream!” Verily! Thus do We reward those who perform good deeds, totally for Allah’s sake only. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial and We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (a ram;) and We left for him (a goodly remembrance) among generations in later times. “Peace be upon Ibrahim!” Thus indeed do We reward the good doers. Verily, he was one of Our believing slaves. [As-Saffat 37:100-111]
  • Both Ibrahim and Isma’il went to the place of sacrifice but Shaytan appeared three times and tried to persuade Ibrahim not to carry out the command of Allah, by reminding him how much he loved his son.
  • Ibrahim was a prophet and he knew that the love of Allah comes before the love of his son. Ibrahim also knew that this was the command of Allah so he must carry it out. Each time the Shaytan came to him, Ibrahim threw stones at him. This is the Rami (throwing of stones) in the 3 Jamarat (pillars) during Hajj.
  • Traditions tell us that Ibrahim could not bear to look at his son so he blindfolded himself and carried out the sacrifice. When he removed the blindfold, a sheep or ram was in place of his son and Ibrahim knew that the sacrifice had been accepted. On this occasion, Ibrahim had proven himself and passed this great test from Allah.

Ibrahim’s 3 guests

  • Time passed. Ibrahim thought about his son and cried. In the meantime, 3 angels in human shapes visited him: Jibril, Israfil, and Mika’il. Ibrahim welcomed them inside his tent and made them comfortable.
  • Then excused himself to go to his wife Sarah who became old, too. Ibrahim: “We have 3 strangers in the house.” Sarah: “Who are they?” Ibrahim: “I do not know any of them. What food have we got?” Sarah: “Half a sheep.” Ibrahim: “Half a sheep! Slaughter a fat calf for them; they are strangers and guests.“
  • The servants roasted and served a calf. Ibrahim invited them to eat and he started eating to encourage them.He continued, but when he glanced at his guests to assure they were eating, he noticed that none of them had touched the food. He said to them: “Are you not going to eat?” He resumed eating, but when he glanced at them again he found that they were still not eating. Their hands did not reach out for the food.
  • He began to fear them. Ibrahim’s fears increased. The guests however were reading his inner thoughts and one of them said: “Do not fear.” Ibrahim raised his head and replied: “Indeed I am in fear. I have asked you to eat food but you do not stretch out your hands to eat. Do you intend me evil?” One of the angels smiled and said: “We do not eat. We are Allah’s angels.”
  • One of them then turned towards his wife and conveyed the glad tidings about Ishaq.
  • Verily! There came Our Messengers to Ibrahim with glad tidings. They said: “Peace!” He answered: “Peace)!” and he hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But, when he saw their hands went not towards it (the meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: “Fear not, we have been sent against the people of Lut.” And his wife was standing there and she laughed . But We gave her glad tidings of Ishaq, and after him of Yaqub. She said (in astonishment): “Woe unto me! Shall I bear a child while I am an old woman, and here is my husband an old man? Verily! This is a strange thing!” They said: “Do you wonder at the Decree of Allah? The Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be on you, O the family (of Ibrahim). Surely, He (Allah) is All Praiseworthy, All-Glorious.” [Hud 11:69-73]

Ibrahim’s first visit

  • Isma’il was respected and loved by the people of Hijaz. The main tribe that settled was the tribe of Jurhum. They married one of their daughters to Isma’il and Isma’il settled down.
  • On one occasion, Ibrahim went to visit his son but Ismail was not at home. When he asked Ismael’s wife about him, she replied: “He has gone in search of livelihood.”
  • Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, “We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,” complaining to him. He said: “When your husband returns, convey my salutations to him and tell him to change the threshold (doorstep) of the gate (of his house).”
  • When Ismael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual. Ismail: “Has anyone visited you?” Wife: “Yes, an old man of such and such description came and asked me about you and I informed him and he asked about our state of living and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.” Ismael: “Did he advise you anything?” Wife: “Yes he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.” 
  • Ismael: “Go back to your family. It was my father and he has ordered me to divorce you.” So he divorced her and married another woman from among them (Jurhum).

Ibrahim’s second visit

  • After a long time, Ibrahim came to meet Ismail and again he was not at home. Ismael’s 2nd wife attended to her father-in-law.
  • He asked Isma’il and 2nd wife said: “He has gone in search of our livelihood.” Ibrahim: “How are you getting on?” 2nd wife: “We are prosperous and well off.” Then she thanked Allah. Ibrahim: “What kind of food do you eat?” 2nd wife: “Meat.” Ibrahim: “What do you drink?” 2nd wife: “Water.”
  • Ibrahim: “O Allah! bless their meat and water. When your husband comes give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.” Because of his prayer, there are blessings in Makkah.
  • On leaving, Ibrahim left a message that the doorstep of his house was fine. Through this wife, all the descendants of Isma’il are traced.
  • When Ismael came back he asked his wife, “Did anyone call on you?” 2nd wife: “Yes, a good looking old man came to me,” and she praised him. She added: “He asked about you and I informed him that we were in a good condition.” Ismael: “Did he give you any piece of advice?”
  • 2nd wife: “Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.” Ismael: “It was my father, and you are the threshold of the gate. He has ordered me to keep you with me.”

Ibrahim’s third visit

  • Ibrahim visited his son again after a long time and this time Isma’il was present. He saw him under a tree near Zamzam, sharpening his arrows. Isma’il welcomed his father and they greeted each other
  • Ibrahim: “O Isma’il! Allah has given me an order.” Isma’il: “Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.” Ibrahim: “Will you help me?” Isma’il: “I will help you.” Ibrahim: “Allah has ordered me to build a house here,” pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it.

The building of the Ka’bah

  • After a happy reunion, they both built the Ka’bah, by the command of Allah. So they raised the foundations of the House. Isma’il brought the stones and handing it to his father who is building it. When the walls became high, he could no longer lift the stones to such a high position, Ismael brought a stone (Al-Maqam) for his old father to stand over it and carried on building
  • While building and going round it, both of them were saying: “Our Lord! Accept this service from us, verily, You are the All Hearer, the All Knower.” [Al-Baqarah 2:127]
  • This was the first house built for the worship of the One and Only True God. Ibrahim started this pilgrimage and then asked the tribes to make pilgrimage to this house of Allah. From then until now, many millions of Muslims still visit the Ka’bah and perform the Hajj
  • The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims must carry out the Hajj, at least once in their lifetime.

People gradually misguided

  • The people after Isma’il became misguided and gradually began to worship stone idols. They began to fill this holy sanctuary in Makkah with idols.
  • What Ibrahim had advised and fought against was happening even in this holiest of holy places. The people still believed in Allah but also had faith in these idols.
  • Allah took away the blessing of Zamzam from them leaving them in misguidance.
  • The society had become astray from the truth. The misguidance continued for hundreds of years. They become engrossed in many forms of evil and had completely strayed from all that was good.
  • However, just before the prophet’s time, one noble person from the tribe of Quraysh was going to restore some of these blessing. This person was Abdul Muttalib, the Prophet’s grandfather.

[Main source: Stories of the Prophets/Darussalam; other sources]