Surah Yusuf: The Most Beautiful Story (2/2)

Today we pick up from where we left off yesterday when Yusuf (as) brothers arrive in Egypt to pickup provisions. They arrive and are in the presence of Yusuf (as) who is now an important government minister in Egypt. He asked his brothers, “Are you truthful people?” To this, they respond, “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 (as)  warned them. They granted him assurance and would gladly fulfill his wish but in order for them to abide, they would need to get Ya’qub (as) permission. As an inducement to return with their brother, Yusuf (as) ordered his servant to secretly place the purse, with the money they had paid, into one of their grain sacks.

Allah (swt) says in Surah Yusuf,

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 Binyamin). 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.

Surah Yusuf, Ayah 58-62

When the brothers return to their land, they greeted Ya’qub (as) and inform him that they were denied some items because Ya’qub (as) did not let Binyamin go with them. They argue that food was not being provided for absentee people and argue with him about him not trusting them with him. Ya’qub (as) says to them, “I will not permit Binyamin to travel with you. I will not part with him, for I entrusted Yusuf to you and you failed me.”

A while 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 Ya’qub (as) refused to send Binyamin with them.

After some time, when they had no more grain, Ya’qub (as) asked them to travel to Egypt for more. They reminded him of the warning the Egyptian official had given them. They could not return without Binyamin. Ya’qub (as) 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.” He then advised them to enter the city through several different gates.

Upon their departure to Egypt, Ya’qub (as) blessed the brothers and prayed to Allah (swt) for their protection. Once they arrived in Egypt, Yusuf (as) welcomed them very warmly. He was very tempted to greet Binyamin warmly but had to control himself. He prepared a whole feast for the brothers and seated them all in pairs. Yusuf (as) arranged for himself to be seated next to his beloved brother Binyamin who began to weep at Yusuf (as) kindness. Yusuf (as) asked him why he was crying and Binyamin responded, “If my brother Yusuf had been here, I would have sat next to him.”

That night, when Yusuf (as) and Binyamin were away from the rest of the brothers, Yusuf (as) asked Binyamin whether he would take him as a brother. Binyamin very respectfully answered that he indeed regarded him as a wonderful individual, but could never take the place of his brother. Yusuf (as) immediately broke down in tears and couldn’t hold back and 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.” Binyamin flung his arms around Yusuf and both brothers shed tears of joy.”

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 Binyamin’s saddlebag. When the brothers were ready to set out, the gates were locked, and the court crier shouted: “O you travelers, you are thieves!” The accusation was most unusual, and the people gathered around Yusuf’s brothers.

“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 (as) brothers said with all innocence: “We have not come here to corrupt the land and steal.” Yusuf’s (as) 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 chief officer ordered his soldiers to start searching the caravan. Yusuf (as) was watching the incident from high upon his throne. He had given instructions for Binyamin’s bag to be the last to be searched. When they did not find the cup in the bags of the ten older brothers, the brothers sighed in relief. There remained only the bag of their youngest brother. Yusuf (as) 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 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.” They strayed from the present issue in order to blame a particular group of the children of Ya’qub (as).

Yusuf (as) heard their resentment with his own ears and was filled with regret. Yet, he swallowed his own resentment, keeping it within. He said to himself, “you went further and fared worse; it shall go bad with you and worse hereafter, and Allah (swt) knows your intention.”

Silence fell upon them after these remarks by the brothers. Then they forgot their secret satisfaction and thought of Ya’qub (as); they had taken an oath with him that they would not betray his son. They began to beg Yusuf (as) 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 (as) 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, the eldest, was 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.”

Regarding this scene, Allah (swt) said,

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 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 (Benjamin) to himself and said: “Verily! I am your brother, so grieve not for what they used to do.”

The brothers left enough provisions behind for Judah, who stayed at a tavern awaiting the fate of Binyamin. In the meantime, Yusuf kept Binyamin 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.

Yusuf’s plan in sending the others back was to test their sincerity, to see if they would come back for the two 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 (swt) will return all of them to me. He is Most Knowing, Most Wise.”

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 (as) almost lost his sight.

The other sons pleaded with him: “O father, you are a noble prophet and a great messenger of Allah (swt). Unto you descended revelation and people received guidance and faith from you. Why are you destroying yourself in this way?”

Ya’qub (as) replied: “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.”

Once again, the caravan set out for Egypt. The brothers – on their way to see the chief minister, Yusuf (as) – were poor and depressed.

On reaching Egypt they collected Judah and called on Yusuf (as), to whom they pleaded:

“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.” 

Surah Yusuf, Ayah 88

At the end, they begged Yusuf (as). They asked alms of him, appealing to his heart, reminding him that Allah (swt) rewards alms givers. At this moment, in the midst of their plight, Yusuf (as) 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 his is my brother Binyamin. 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.”

They said: “By Allah! Indeed Allah has preferred you above us, and we certainly have been sinners.”

Surah Yusuf, Ayah 89-91

The brothers began to tremble with fear, but Yusuf (as) comforted them,

 “No reproach on you this day, may Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!”

Surah Yusuf, Ayah 92

Yusuf (as) embraced them, and together they wept with joy. It was not possible for Yusuf (as) 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.”

Surah Yusuf, Ayah 93

And so the caravan headed back for Palestine. We leave the scene in Egypt and return to Palestine and the house of Ya’qub. 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 Jannah 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.” 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.”

The story began with a dream and it ends with the interpretation of the dream.

Then, when they entered unto Yusuf, he betook his parents to himself and said: “Enter Egypt, if Allah will, in security.” Soon after, Ya’qub (as) and his family went to Egypt where Yusuf (as) arranged for them to be settled. After this, Yusuf (as) fell in sujood to Allah (swt) out of thankfulness.

Before he died, Prophet Ya’qub (as) advised his children to adhere to the teachings of Islam, the religion of all of Allah’s (swt) prophets. Allah (swt) revealed;

 Or were you witnesses when death approached Ya’qub? When he said unto his sons: “What will you worship after me?” they said: “We shall worship your Ilah (God-Allah) the Ilah (God) of your father. Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, One Ilah (God), and to Him we submit in Islam.”

Surah Yusuf, Ayah 133

Yusuf (as), at the moment of his death, asked his brothers to bury him beside his forefathers if they were to leave Egypt. So when Yusuf (as) 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. It was said that he died at the age of one hundred ten.

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