By Umm Amin
Do you make dua and wonder if your prayers will ever be answered? Is there something you are striving for yet it remains out of reach? When you make steps toward being a better Muslim, do you feel like even those around you that love you and care about you are jealous of your good efforts? Do you feel like you are going through trials and tests again and again? Are others mocking you when you attempt to do something that pleases Allah? You are not alone. And rest assured, others have struggled to overcome these same challenges. There are numerous lessons in the Qur’an that can serve as an inspiration to persist in the face of adversity. Let’s reflect upon five lessons gained by reading Surat ul Yusuf.
LESSON1 : SOMETHING MISERABLE IS BETTER THAN DISOBEYING ALLAH
Prophet Yusuf alayhi salaam had already suffered a series of tests and trials, yet he remained obedient to Allah. His brothers had abandoned him in the well, then he was found and sold as a slave at the market. Despite being a loyal servant to the king, Yusuf alayhi salaam was defamed and imprisoned. At the zenith of this crisis when everything seemed bleak, the wife of the King threatened to imprison Yusuf alayhi salaam unless he would give in to her attempts at seduction. Yusuf alayhi salaam’s response was recorded in the Qur’aan, My lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if you do not avert me from my plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant. (Al Yusuf 12 : 33)
Yusuf alayhi salam chose to live in the dark, dreary dungeon in a life of shackles over disobedience to Allah. Clearly, even if you encounter dismal surroundings and misery, Allah’s pleasure is greater and longer lasting. You will triumph if you obey Allah!
LESSON 2: DON’T BE JEALOUS
Jealousy divides communities, breaks up families, and splits up friendships. Prophet Yaqoob alayhi salam said, O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. (Surah Al Yusuf 12 : 5)
They were brothers by blood, but Yusuf’s brothers would not have been pleased by his vision of prophethood. Even those close to you – friends and family – might not be thrilled about blessings you have received or steps you take to live a life that is pleasing to Allah. It is best to keep your dreams quiet and only share them with trustworthy supporters until these aspirations are a flourishing reality.
Yusuf’s brothers believed Yaqoob alayhi salaam loved Yusuf alayhi salaam more than them. Their jealousy boiled up out of control. These brothers became an irrational gang, and they plotted to get rid of Yusuf alayhi salaam by abandoning him in the well. One lie was woven into a web of lies, and the brothers informed their father that Yusuf alayhi salam had been devoured by a wolf (Mubarakburi, 2003; Sahih International, 1997)! Jealousy even touched the prophets, so we need to be sure to stamp out jealousy in our communities. As Muslims we should be sincerely happy when we see others being blessed by Allah. When we see people excelling in religion or gaining success we should say Masha’Allah or Tabarak Allah.
LESSON 3: NEVER GIVE UP HOPE IN ALLAH
Prophet Yaqoob alayhi salam never gave up the hope of finding his son. When Yusuf alayhi salam’s brothers came back to tell him that their brother was stolen and remained behind, Yaqoob alayhi salaam was still sad about his loss of Yusuf alayhi salaam. He went blind over suppression of his grief, and complained only to Allah. Despite the intense grief he felt and the previous reports of Yusuf alayhi salaam being consumed by a wolf, Yaqoob alayhi salaam did not give up hope (Mubarakpuri, 2003: Sahih International, 1997). He instructed his sons to continue to search for Yusuf alayhi salaam and his brother saying,
O my sons, go and find out about Josepha and his brother and despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people. (Al Yusuf 2:87)
Imagine, Prophet Yaqoob alayhi salaam had not seen his son since childhood, so many years had passed that Prophet Yusuf alayhi salaam was now a king of Egypt. Despite the passing of all these years, Prophet Yaqoob alayhi salaam still firmly held onto the hope that Allah would answer his prayers and reunite him with his son. Many of us have trouble being patient for a few hours or a couple of days, let alone years or decades! Alhamdulillah, Yaqoob alayhi salaam never gave up, and Allah answered his dua, relieving him of the sorrow he felt.
LESSON 4: PATIENCE IS BEAUTIFUL, SO BE PATIENT ALL THE TIME
We should always be patient. If we have patience in hardship, continuously counting our blessings, we will truly be victorious in both hardship and ease. Can you count how many times Yusuf alayhi salaam was patient? He was patient while awaiting the fulfillment of his dream. He was patient when his brothers abandoned him in the well. He was patient when he was sold as a slave. He was patient when the king’s wife accused him of seduction. Yusuf alayhi salam continued to be patient when he was put in jail. Even when his fellow inmate was released and forgot about him, Yusuf alayhi salaam continued to be patient! As the king of Egypt, Yusuf alayhi salaam continued to be patient with his brothers’ slander. He kept his cool when they tried to say that his brother Binyamin was stealing just as his brother (Yusuf) had done the same before him (Mubarakpuri, 2003; Sahih International, 1997)! Regardless of the time, situation, place, or scenario, Yusuf alayhi salaam remained patient.
LESSON 5: FORGIVE
When Yusuf alayhi salaam finally confronts his brothers later in life, it is a beautiful lesson of forgiveness. After his brothers return with their father and Binyamin is accused of theft, they return to Yusuf alayhi salaam in a great predicament. His brothers are enduring hard times in which they have poor harvest and are in need. On the other hand Yusuf alayhi salaam has not only become the king of Egypt, but he has astutely saved provisions and prepared his community to survive the famine. Although Yusuf alayhi salaam has suffered many hardships on account of his brother’s jealous plotting, Yusuf alayhi salaam is strong and holds the upper hand. Instead of treating them with harshness or rebuking them to endure starvation, Yusuf alayhi saaam utters very lovely words,
No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you; and He is the most merciful of the merciful. (Al Yusuf 12:92)
Instead of being bitter and angry or taking vengeance, Yusuf alayhi salaam was strong enough to choose forgiveness! With all his power as a leader, Yusuf alayhi salaam preferred the sweetness of forgiveness.
Although this brief reflection touches upon a few lessons of Surat ul Yusuf, take a few minutes to reflect a bit more. Stop and read over this chapter of the Qur’aan. Take a few moments to close your eyes and imagine implementing the lessons above. How can you bravely continue to be obedient to Allah? Is there a way you can support someone and help stamp out jealousy among friends or family? What steps would help you augment your hope that Allah will answer your prayers? In hard times, what reminders will prompt you to persevere in patience? Can you find it in your heart to forgive someone who has wronged you? What other lessons can you learn from Surat Al Yusuf?
Mubarakpuri, S. (2003). Tafsir Ibn Kathir: (Abridged) Volume 5. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
Sahih International. (1997). The Qur’aan: An Authentic, Accurate, and Clear English
Translation. Saudi Arabia: Abulqasim Publishing House.
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