نَحۡنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَیۡکَ اَحۡسَنَ الۡقَصَصِ بِمَاۤ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکَ ہٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ ٭ۖ وَ اِنۡ کُنۡتَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِہٖ لَمِنَ الۡغٰفِلِیۡنَ ﴿۴﴾
نَحۡنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيۡكَ أَحۡسَنَ ٱلۡقَصَصِ بِمَآ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ هَٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ وَإِن كُنتَ مِن قَبۡلِهِۦ لَمِنَ ٱلۡغَٰفِلِينَ
1358. The reason why the story of Joseph was revealed to the Holy Prophet in such detail is that it contains many prophetic allusions to his own life. The whole story was to be, as it were, re-enacted in the person of the Holy Prophet himself and his brethren, the Quraish. (close)
1508. Important Words:
نقص (We narrate). They say قص اثرہ i.e. he followed his tracks or footsteps in pursuit. قص علیه الحدیث means, he related to him the story in its proper manner i.e. rightly, as though he followed its traces in pursuit and related it accordingly (Lane). See also 7:177.
As the expression نقص (which literally means, we narrate rightly or properly) indicates, the verse shows that some differences existed about the life story of Joseph. The Quran here claims to act as judge between the upholders of different views and to lift the veil of obscurity from the face of the true story. This is why it says, We relate to thee the narration rightly or properly as though following its very traces (see Important Words). It is strange that some European critics of the Quran have not taken into consideration the existence of differences about the life of Joseph, but have only thought fit to take exception to the narrative of the Quran, merely because it differs from that of the Bible in certain details. In fact, the very objection has established the truth of the Quran, inasmuch as the claim that it relates the incidents rightly shows that the Revealer of the Quran knew that at some future time people would object to the Quranic version. Brinckman is one of these critics. In his "Notes on Islam" he says, "In the Koran a beautiful and touching tale is mangled and spoiled." The following pages will show whether it is in the Quran or the Bible, that a "beautiful and touching tale" has been "mangled and spoiled."
One of the reasons why the story of Joseph was revealed to the Holy Prophet in such detail is that it contains many prophetic allusions to his own life. The whole story was to be, as it were, re-enacted in the person of the Holy Prophethimself and his brethren, the Quraish, and was thus to serve as evidence of his truth. Another reason is that, as the Holy Prophet was the like of Joseph it was necessary that he himself should know the latter’s life history.
The Holy Prophet has been referred to here as of those not possessed of requisite knowledge. His lack of requisite knowledge about Joseph was intended to hint that, firstly, the whole truth about Joseph was to be found neither in the Bible nor in the Talmud; and, secondly, that the Holy Prophet was not aware that events similar to those which happened to Joseph were to occur in his own life. The account of the Quran differs from that of the Bible in many respects but, as will appear from the following pages, wherever the two accounts differ, it is the Bible that has erred. (close)
اِذۡ قَالَ یُوۡسُفُ لِاَبِیۡہِ یٰۤاَبَتِ اِنِّیۡ رَاَیۡتُ اَحَدَعَشَرَ کَوۡکَبًا وَّ الشَّمۡسَ وَ الۡقَمَرَ رَاَیۡتُہُمۡ لِیۡ سٰجِدِیۡنَ ﴿۵﴾
إِذۡ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَـٰٓأَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيۡتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوۡكَبٗا وَٱلشَّمۡسَ وَٱلۡقَمَرَ رَأَيۡتُهُمۡ لِي سَٰجِدِينَ
a. 12:101. (close)
1359. Joseph was the twelfth son of Prophet Jacob, otherwise known as Israel. He was the elder of the two sons of Rachel. The meaning given to the name is 'shall add,' i.e. 'The Lord shall add to me another son' (Gen. 30:24). (close)
1360. The Bible mentions the sun and the moon first and the eleven stars afterwards, as making obeisance to Joseph (Gen. 37:9), but the Qur’an reverses the order; and the actual facts of history support the order followed by the Qur’an, for it was the brethren of Joseph (the eleven stars) who met him first and made obeisance to him, and his parents came afterwards. The verse signifies that the parents and brethren of Joseph would submit to his authority. (close)
1509. Important Words:
یوسف (Joseph) was the eleventh son of the Prophet Jacob, otherwise known as Israel, and the elder of the two sons of Rachel. The meaning given to the name is "shall add" i.e. "The Lord shall add to me another son" (Gen. 30:24). A somewhat detailed account of his life is given in the present Surah. It should, however, be added that Joseph possesses the unique characteristic among all Prophets of God that not only was he himself a Prophet of God but his father, Jacob, his grandfather, Isaac, and his great-grandfather, Abraham, were all God’s chosen Messengers. The Holy Prophetreferred to this characteristic of Joseph in one of his well-known sayings when, on being asked by some of his Companions as to who was the noblest of men, he is reported to have replied, "Truly the noblest of men is the Prophet Joseph who was the son, grandson and great-grandson of a Prophet of God" (Bukhari, Kitab Bad’ul-Khalq). It may also be noted here that, though Joseph was buried in Egypt, his remains were later removed by Moses to Palestine when the Israelites were commanded by God to leave Egypt (Enc. Bib.).
کوکبا (stars) is derived from کوکب (kaukaba) which means, it (iron) glistened; was lustrous, or bright. کوکب (kaukabun) of which the plural is کواکب means, a star; an asterism; a constellation; the source or spring of a well; the lustre or brightness of iron, etc.; a sword; a whiteness in the eye; a tract which differs in colour from the land in which it lies; a youth nearly of the age of puberty; also a youth who has attained the period of adolescence and whose face has become beautiful; the chief or lord, or prince and horseman, or cavalier of a people; an armed man; a mountain; a troop of horses; the greater or chief part of a thing; the flower or flowers of a garden, etc. (Lane).
With this verse begins the story of Joseph, and in this very verse two important differences in the accounts of the Bible and the Quran and in the manner of their narration have been brought to light. Firstly, the Biblical account begins with a description of the pedigree of Joseph, while the Quran leaves this unimportant detail to be filled up by historians and begins the actual narration with the dream of Joseph, which constitutes its pivot. The whole life of Joseph revolves round this dream. Thus the Quran has opened the narrative with a much better and more appropriate beginning than the Bible. Secondly, while describing the dream of Joseph, the Bible mentions the sun and the moon first and the eleven stars afterwards, as making obeisance to Joseph (Gen. 37:9), but the Quran reverses the order; and actual facts of history support the order followed by the Quran, for it was the brethren of Joseph (the eleven stars) who met him first and made obeisance to him and his parents came afterwards. The vision as given in the Quran was literally fulfilled in actual life.
The word ساجدین (making obeisance) in the verse does not mean that the brothers and parents of Joseph actually fell prostrate before him. The root-meaning of this word being "obedience" and "submission" (for which see 2:35), the expression signified only that they would become obedient to the authority of Joseph and so it actually came to pass, for the parents and brothers of Joseph came to reside in the land where Joseph held sway as a Minister of State. Thus it was that they became ساجد or obedient to him. The names of the eleven brothers of Joseph, as given in the Bible, are:Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
The incident of the vision related by Joseph to his father furnishes two points of resemblance between him and the Holy Prophet. Just as Joseph’s vision, which was his first revelation, foretold his future greatness; so the first revelation of the Holy Prophet in the Cave of Hira predicted that he was to become the most honoured man of the human race. In 96:2-5, containing the first revelation which the Holy Prophet received, he was told that God would make him the most honoured among mankind and through him would teach men things which they did not know before, and that he would be the most honoured man not only among his contemporaries but also among those who had gone before him as well as those who would come after him. In this way, he would not only be the chief among his own brethren or followers, but also among his spiritual forefathers, the Prophets of yore. This is why the Holy Prophet is reported to have said لوکان موسی و عیسی حیین لما وسعھما الااتباعی i.e. even if Moses and Jesus had been living, they could not have helped tendering their allegiance to me (Kathir. vol. 2, p. 246). He also said انا سید ولد آدم i.e. I am the chief of all the children of Adam (Tirmidhi, ch. on Manaqib).
The second point of resemblance between the Holy Prophet and Joseph mentioned in this verse is that, whereas Joseph related his vision to his father, the Holy Prophet, at the instance of his wife, Khadijah, related his first revelation to Waraqah bin Naufal, who was one of the elders of the family (Bukhari). (close)
قَالَ یٰبُنَیَّ لَا تَقۡصُصۡ رُءۡیَاکَ عَلٰۤی اِخۡوَتِکَ فَیَکِیۡدُوۡا لَکَ کَیۡدًا ؕ اِنَّ الشَّیۡطٰنَ لِلۡاِنۡسَانِ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِیۡنٌ ﴿۶﴾
قَالَ يَٰبُنَيَّ لَا تَقۡصُصۡ رُءۡيَاكَ عَلَىٰٓ إِخۡوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُواْ لَكَ كَيۡدًاۖ إِنَّ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنَ لِلۡإِنسَٰنِ عَدُوّٞ مُّبِينٞ
a. 2:169; 18:51; 35:7. (close)
a. 2:169; 18:51; 35:7. (close)
1510. Important Words
رؤیا (dream) is derived from رأی which means, (1) he saw with the eye; (2) he saw mentally; (3) he saw in a dream or vision; (4) he held the opinion; (5) he thought or considered, etc. The Arabs say رأیته رأی العین i.e. I saw him where the eye or sight fell upon him, i.e. I saw him actually with the eye. رؤیا means, a dream or vision seen in sleep. According to most lexicologists رؤیا is synonymous with حلم (hulm) but according to others the former is such as is good and the latter is the contrary (Lane).
Here again the Quran differs from the Bible and again the Quranic version is decidedly more reasonable and correct. According to the Quran, Joseph told his dream to his father first, while according to the Bible he first related it to his brothers (Gen. 37:9). But the Bible itself says that Joseph had seen another dream, even before this dream which the Quran relates and, on listening to this first dream, his brethren had said to him: "Shalt thou indeed reign over us or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?" And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words (Gen. 37:5-8). Now, after the rebuke he had received from his brothers on telling them his first dream, it is highly unreasonable and improbable that Joseph should have related his second and similar dream to them before acquainting his father with it. So the Quranic account is clearly nearer truth and reason than the Biblical account.
The Quran represents Jacob, the father of Joseph, as having forbidden him to mention his dream to his brethren. It also gives the reason why he forbade him to do so. The reason was that the dream would excite their envy and they would be tempted to plot against him. That this fear of Jacob was only too well-founded is borne out by the Bible itself, for it says that Joseph’s brethren hated him yet the more for his dreams. This also goes to support the Quranic version.
The verse under comment mentions another important resemblance between Joseph and the Holy Prophet. Just as Jacob, on hearing the dream of Joseph, told him that when his brothers heard of it, they would plot against him and seek to do him harm, similarly, when Waraqah bin Naufal heard of the first revelation from the Holy Prophet, he told him that a time would come when his people would plot against him and turn him out of their town. (close)
وَ کَذٰلِکَ یَجۡتَبِیۡکَ رَبُّکَ وَ یُعَلِّمُکَ مِنۡ تَاۡوِیۡلِ الۡاَحَادِیۡثِ وَ یُتِمُّ نِعۡمَتَہٗ عَلَیۡکَ وَ عَلٰۤی اٰلِ یَعۡقُوۡبَ کَمَاۤ اَتَمَّہَا عَلٰۤی اَبَوَیۡکَ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ وَ اِسۡحٰقَ ؕ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ عَلِیۡمٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ٪﴿۷﴾
وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَجۡتَبِيكَ رَبُّكَ وَيُعَلِّمُكَ مِن تَأۡوِيلِ ٱلۡأَحَادِيثِ وَيُتِمُّ نِعۡمَتَهُۥ عَلَيۡكَ وَعَلَىٰٓ ءَالِ يَعۡقُوبَ كَمَآ أَتَمَّهَا عَلَىٰٓ أَبَوَيۡكَ مِن قَبۡلُ إِبۡرَٰهِيمَ وَإِسۡحَٰقَۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٞ
b. 12:22, 102. (close)
1361. The name is explained in the Bible as 'the supplanter' (Gen. 27:36). It is the prevalent critical opinion that Ya‘qub (Jacob) is really a shortened form of Ya‘akobel admitting several meanings such as 'God follows' or 'God rewards.' Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah and the grandson of Abraham and the traditional ancestor of the people of Israel and known as the Third Patriarch (Enc. Bib. & Jew. Enc.). (close)
a. 12:22, 102. (close)
1511. Important Words:
یعقوب (Jacob) may, be said to have been derived from عقب. They say عقبه i.e. he struck his heel; he came after him as though at his heel. The Bible says, "And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob," (Gen. 25:26) as if "one who takes hold by the heel." The name is also explained in the Bible as "the supplanter" (Gen. 27:36). It is the prevalent critical opinion that Ya‘akob (Jacob) is really a shortened form of Ya‘akob-el, admitting several explanations such as "God follows" or "God rewards." Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah and the grandson of Abraham and the traditional ancestor of the people of Israel (another name of Jacob) and known as the third Patriarch (Enc. Bib. & Jew. Enc.). See also 2:41.
The words, thy Lord shall choose thee, mean that God will deal with you (Joseph) according to your dream, and you will attain to the greatness which has been promised to you in the vision.
The expression, shall teach you the interpretation of things, is capable of two meanings: (a) what you have seen in the dream will come to pass (b) God will teach you how to interpret dreams.
By the word "favour" occurring in this verse is meant the boon of prophethood, which means that Joseph received the promise that God would bestow prophethood on him, and through him He would bestow distinction on Jacob’s family also. God would make them believe in Joseph and thus they would share with him the favours and blessings of God.
This verse also embodies a divergence from the Bible. According to the Quran, Jacob was pleased to hear of the dream of Joseph and held it as true. But the Bible says: "His father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?" (Gen. 37:10). Evidently there was no reason or occasion for Jacob to become angry with his son for having seen a dream in which he had no hand. No reasonable person, much less a Prophet of God, would act so unreasonably. Neither can it be said that Jacob thought Joseph was telling a lie and that really he had dreamt no dream, for the words which Jacob uttered when he heard of the dream i.e. "What is this dream that thou hast dreamed?" show that Jacob did believe that Joseph had really seen a dream. It is curious that the Bible contradicts itself in this very passage, for it says, "His brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying" (Gen. 37:11). The fact that Jacob "observed the saying" i.e. remembered it and bore it in mind, shows that he believed it to be a true dream and a genuine heavenly vision.
This incident furnishes a fourth point of similarity between Joseph and the Holy Prophet. Just as Jacob believed in the truth of Joseph’s dream, similarly, when Waraqah heard of the first revelation of the Holy Prophet, he accepted it as the true Word of God and even likened it to the revelation of Moses. (close)
لَقَدۡ کَانَ فِیۡ یُوۡسُفَ وَ اِخۡوَتِہٖۤ اٰیٰتٌ لِّلسَّآئِلِیۡنَ ﴿۸﴾
۞لَّقَدۡ كَانَ فِي يُوسُفَ وَإِخۡوَتِهِۦٓ ءَايَٰتٞ لِّلسَّآئِلِينَ
By "inquirers" is here meant those who inquire about the truth of the Holy Prophet.
This verse also shows that the life history of Joseph as given in this Surah was not meant as a mere narrative, but provided solid proof of the truth of the Holy Prophet. In fact, the incidents in the life of Joseph were so many signs or prophecies which were later to be fulfilled in the life of the Holy Prophet. (close)
اِذۡ قَالُوۡا لَیُوۡسُفُ وَ اَخُوۡہُ اَحَبُّ اِلٰۤی اَبِیۡنَا مِنَّا وَ نَحۡنُ عُصۡبَۃٌ ؕ اِنَّ اَبَانَا لَفِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنِ ۣ ۚ﴿ۖ۹﴾
إِذۡ قَالُواْ لَيُوسُفُ وَأَخُوهُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىٰٓ أَبِينَا مِنَّا وَنَحۡنُ عُصۡبَةٌ إِنَّ أَبَانَا لَفِي ضَلَٰلٖ مُّبِينٍ
1362. Like Joseph’s brothers who were angry that instead of themselves, who, as they imagined, were superior to him in every respect, he had won the affection of their father and had become the centre of his attention, the Quraish leaders said that the Qur’an ought to have been revealed to one of the great men of Mecca or Ta’if (43:32). They looked upon the Holy Prophet as too small a person to be selected for the exalted office of a Prophet. (close)
a. 12:96. (close)
1513. Important Words:
عصبة (a strong party) is derived from عصب which means, he twisted a thing or wound it round or he folded it tightly; he bound or tied a thing. عصبة means, party or company of men who league together to defend one another, generally from ten to forty in number; a company of men absolutely. عصبیة (‘asabiyyat) means, zeal in the cause of one’s party; a strong attachment which holds several persons closely united by the same interests or the same opinion and which causes them to defend one another; partisanship or party spirit (Lane).
The verse under comment contains the fifth resemblance of the Holy Prophet with Joseph. Joseph’s brothers were annoyed that instead of them, who, as they thought, were superior to him in every respect, he had won the affection of their father and had become the centre of his attention. In the same way it is on record that when some Arab chiefs were asked what they thought of the Prophet’s claims, they answered that if God had intended to raise a Prophet it was they who deserved this honour."
The Meccans also seemed to hold the view that the Quran ought to have been revealed to one of the great men of Mecca or Ta’if (43:32). They looked upon the Holy Prophet as too small a person to be selected for the exalted office of a Prophet. (close)
اقۡتُلُوۡا یُوۡسُفَ اَوِ اطۡرَحُوۡہُ اَرۡضًا یَّخۡلُ لَکُمۡ وَجۡہُ اَبِیۡکُمۡ وَ تَکُوۡنُوۡا مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہٖ قَوۡمًا صٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰﴾
ٱقۡتُلُواْ يُوسُفَ أَوِ ٱطۡرَحُوهُ أَرۡضٗا يَخۡلُ لَكُمۡ وَجۡهُ أَبِيكُمۡ وَتَكُونُواْ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦ قَوۡمٗا صَٰلِحِينَ
1363. Just as the brothers of Joseph plotted to kill him, the Quraish also conspired to put the Holy Prophet to death (8:31). (close)
Like the brothers of Joseph, who plotted to kill him, the Quraish of Mecca also conspired to put the Holy Prophet to death (8:31). This is the sixth point of resemblance between the two Prophets. But here again the Quran differs from the Bible. According to the Quran, Joseph’s brothers first held a secret conference and matured a plan to put Joseph out of their way, and then went in a body to their father asking him to send him with them, while according to the Bible, they came to a sudden decision to slay him as soon as they saw him approaching them in the fields, without previous consultation (Gen. 37:18-20). Of the two accounts the Quranic one is obviously nearer truth. Only an insane person or a hardened or habitual murderer or dacoit can take the life of an innocent person suddenly and without premeditation. The brothers of Joseph were members of a respectable family. They could not be expected to come to so atrocious a decision on the spur of the moment. Their decision to murder Joseph was the result of a mature and well-thought-out plan. Moreover, if the decision to kill Joseph was the outcome of a sudden impulse, the man who made the suggestion should have thought twice before doing so lest the others refused to accept his suggestion and he should be branded a potential murderer. Their words, and you can thereafter become a righteous people, also show that they were not habitual criminals and that in their heart of hearts they disliked the foul deed, though they were temporarily blinded by hatred and jealousy. (close)
قَالَ قَآئِلٌ مِّنۡہُمۡ لَا تَقۡتُلُوۡا یُوۡسُفَ وَ اَلۡقُوۡہُ فِیۡ غَیٰبَتِ الۡجُبِّ یَلۡتَقِطۡہُ بَعۡضُ السَّیَّارَۃِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ فٰعِلِیۡنَ ﴿۱۱﴾
قَالَ قَآئِلٞ مِّنۡهُمۡ لَا تَقۡتُلُواْ يُوسُفَ وَأَلۡقُوهُ فِي غَيَٰبَتِ ٱلۡجُبِّ يَلۡتَقِطۡهُ بَعۡضُ ٱلسَّيَّارَةِ إِن كُنتُمۡ فَٰعِلِينَ
1364. Reuben (Gen. 37:22). (close)
1515. Important Words:
غیابة (bottom) is derived from غاب which means, he was or became absent; or distant and remote; or hidden and concealed. غیابة or غیبة means, that part of anything which veils or conceals one; the bottom of a well; covert or place of concealment of birds; a low or depressed piece of land or ground; also a grave (Lane & Aqrab).
جب (deep well) is derived from جب (jabba). They say جبه i.e. he cut it; or cut it off. جب (jubb) means, a well; or a well not cased with stone or the like; or a well containing much water; or a deep well; or a well that people have found, not one that they have dug; or a well that is wide or ample (Lane & Aqrab).
سیارة (travellers) is derived from سار which means, he went or passed along; or he marched, journeyed or departed by night or by day. سیارة means, one who travels or journeys much; a caravan; a company of persons journeying. السیارة is the name of the five planets viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (Lane & Aqrab).
This verse embodies yet one more point of resemblance between Joseph and the Holy Prophet. Just as one of the brothers of Joseph opposed the proposal to slay him and suggested instead that he should be disposed of in some other manner, so when the plot to kill the Holy Prophet was mooted and hatched at Mecca, some of the plotters objected. Similarly, when the Meccans made a compact to boycott and starve the Holy Prophet and his followers to death, some of the citizens opposed this compact and finally broke it. (close)
قَالُوۡا یٰۤاَبَانَا مَا لَکَ لَا تَاۡمَنَّا عَلٰی یُوۡسُفَ وَ اِنَّا لَہٗ لَنٰصِحُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲﴾
قَالُواْ يَـٰٓأَبَانَا مَا لَكَ لَا تَأۡمَ۬نَّا عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَإِنَّا لَهُۥ لَنَٰصِحُونَ
This verse points to another difference with the Biblical version; for, whereas in this verse we are told that the brothers of Joseph asked their father to send him with them, the Bible tells us that Jacob himself sent Joseph to his brothers (Gen. 37:13, 14). But the Bible seems to contradict itself in this respect for in Gen. 37:4 we are told that Joseph was hated by his brothers because Jacob loved him more than he loved them and that Jacob was aware of this hatred. How could Jacob, knowing that his brothers hated him, send Joseph to them?
Moreover, Joseph appears to be only eleven or twelve years old at the time when this incident took place, because it is only for a boy of this tender age that the language used by Joseph’s brothers about him can be used. The Bible, however, places Joseph’s age at that time at seventeen or eighteen, which is evidently wrong. (close)
اَرۡسِلۡہُ مَعَنَا غَدًا یَّرۡتَعۡ وَ یَلۡعَبۡ وَ اِنَّا لَہٗ لَحٰفِظُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳﴾
أَرۡسِلۡهُ مَعَنَا غَدٗا يَرۡتَعۡ وَيَلۡعَبۡ وَإِنَّا لَهُۥ لَحَٰفِظُونَ
1517. Important Words:
یرتع (he may enjoy himself) is derived from رتع which means, he (a beast) pastured at pleasure, eating and drinking plentifully and pleasantly; he (a man) enjoyed himself, going about cheerfully (Lane).
The words, we shall surely keep guard over him, also show that Joseph at that time was a mere lad of eleven or twelve years of age who required to be looked after and not a grown-up young man of seventeen who could easily take care of himself. See also the preceding verse. (close)