The Story of Prophet Yusuf (p) And Zulaikha –

(2 Parts)

THE STThe Story of Prophet Yusuf (p) And Zulaikha – (2 Parts)

Source: Holy Qur’an, Tafseer,  By: Mir Ahmed Ali.

Compiled By:  Samena Sabir, Vice President, Shia Youth, Inc. (MD)

Part  1


The Sura Yusuf (Chapter12 of the Holy Qur’an) gives the narrative of the beauty of the physical body, the ideal character, and the chaste conduct of high morals – godly patience and fortitude- the ultimate triumph of truth – the self condemnation of falsehood – the frustration of man’s plotting against virtues and the irresponsible carry out of God’s plan. A concise description of the divine gift of the prophetic interpretation of dreams. The story narrated in this Sura is the most detailed one of all the references in the Holy Qur’an about the historic events of the ancient prophets. It has a common appeal to men and women with reference to many important vicissitudes of human life on earth. The story of Prophet Yusuf deals with the external manly beauty in a man with the ideal excellence and purity of his soul, and a woman (Zulaikha), madly falling in love with the manly beauty (of Prophet Yusuf) to own it for herself for the satisfaction of her carnal desire. Scholars have called the story as the best or the most beautiful narration.


Comparing the Qur’anic version of the story of Joseph with the Bible version of it, it is quite clear the Qur’an has given the spiritual, moral and the social an economical significance of great importance to it, whereas the Bible gives only a narration as to how the Children if Israel migrated to Egypt.

 Prophet Yacoob (Jacob), son of Prophet Ishaq (Issac), and grand son of Prophet Abraham, had first married with Lia- and from her were born six sons. Afterwards Prophet Yacoob married Rahel the younger sister of Lia who gave birth to a daughter Diana, and two sons named 1. Bin-Yameen (Benjamin) and 2. Yusuf (Joseph). Besides these two wives, Yacoob had two harems, Zulfa from whom he had two sons 1. Had, and 2. Ashar, and the other harem was Maleha, she gave birth to a daughter Dunya, and two sons 1.Don, and 2. Taftali. Altogether Yacoob had twelve sons and Yusuf was the youngest and extremely beautiful. Yacoob loved Yusuf the most. Yusuf’s mother Rahel had died and his aunt who later wedded to Yacoob, had brought up Yusuf. The eleven brothers of Yusuf were envious of him.


Yusuf when he was yet of twelve years of age dreamt that gates that gates of heaven had become wide open, a great light had enveloped the whole environment, an ocean with huge waves rising in it and fishes of various kinds singing the glory of God, Yusuf standing upon the peak of a mountain surrounded with green trees, with streams of fresh water flowing at the foot of it, the keys of the treasuries of the earth being in Yusuf’s hands, the Sun, the Moon, and Eleven Stars descending down from heaven prostrating themselves before Yusuf. When Yacoob heard the details of the dream, he advised Yusuf not to leak it out to any of his brothers. It is said that the wife of one of Yusuf’s brothers was nearby and overhearing Yusuf’s relating the dream, conveyed the information to her husband, so the news spread. Yacoob’s warning to Yusuf not to leak out the dream, makes it evident that Yacoob knew his other sons would get envious of Yusuf and what they would do to get rid of him. The envy of brothers had gradually developed into definite hostility towards Yusuf, and they only waited for an opportunity even to do away with Yusuf’s life. One day when the brothers of Yusuf found their father unwilling to permit them to take Yusuf along with them in a journey to other tqwn, they went to Yusuf and somehow made him to go to the father and get the permission for himself.


At last the father agreed, and desired Yusuf be given a bath and be clad in the best of his clothes. The shirt which Prophet Abraham wore when he was thrown Nimrod into the fire, was tied on his side (as a talisman), and advised the other sons repeatedly to take special care of Yusuf’s convenience, safety and security. There was a tree outside the town called “Shajartul Wida” (i.e., the Parting Tree). It was a custom that whenever anyone used to go on any journey, his relatives or friends used to accompany him up to the tree and then bid him goodbye. Yusuf and all his brothers assembled under the tree waiting for Yacoob to come and wish the goodbye.

Yusuf’s sister Dunya who was asleep dreamt that a wolf had snatched away Yusuf from the lap of her father Yacoob. She awoke crying and went to the tree and begged Yusuf to take her along with him during the journey, which request could not be granted. At last, Yacoob before wishing goodbye, embraced Yusuf and wept very much and in the end said to Yusuf ; “My dear remember God always; Never forget Him; Know thou that there is no other helper  save He; Forget me no; I shall also not forget thee.” Yacoob was shedding tears and Dunya was crying for Yusuf when the party started moving into the desert. As long as they were in sight of Yacoob, the brothers of Yusuf pretended to avoid least inconvenience to Yusuf and no sooner they went out of his sight, than they began torturing him with all sorts of heart less cruelties. They made him to run into the sahara before them and when Yusuf pleaded for kindness they told him to call to the Sun, the Moon, the Stars which he dreamt to be prostrating before him, to help him. When one brother kicked him, Yusuf went running to another brother seeking protection but he also behaved in a similar cruel way of slapping on his face. He was made to run and when in the wild running his shoes gave way, he was made to run on the hot thorny desert, bare-footed. When he felt a killing thirst and asked for some water, one of the brothers threw water on the sand and did not give him even a drop of it


At last, when the brothers of Yusuf decided to throw him into a deserted well, he prayed his brothers to allow him a little respite to offer his last prayer to God. When Yusuf finished his prayers, his brothers tied him to a rope, to send him down into the well. Yusuf told his brothers:“ Look ye my brothers; I give you my last words. Be ye kind to my old father.” The brothers began to strip him of his shirt to get it drenched in the blood of a sheep and to tell their father that a wolf devoured Yusuf.  Yusuf, implored and prayed (to his brothers) not to render him naked and yet they strip him of his shirt. They tied him with a rope and hung him in the well to send him down into it. Yusuf again said: “Hear ye my dear brothers; I give you my last words; Be ye kind to my father and let him not know what hath befallen me, lest he might feel and curse you all”. Hearing what Yusuf said, one brother cut the rope with which Yusuf was hung into the well. Yusuf fell down into the well wounded and unconscious.

Having thrown Yusuf in the well, the brothers drenched Yusuf’s shirt in the blood of a sheep and decided to go and report to their father that a wolf had devoured Yusuf. One brother asked:”Are we not the children of Yacoob, the son of Ishaq (Isaac), the son of Abraham who were both the apostles of God? Do ye think God will not inform our father of the truth?”  The brothers did not know what should be done. Finally, they decided to stand together and offer joint prayer in a congregation (i.e.,Namaz-e- Jama’at). But according to the tradition of family of Prophet Abraham (p) and Prophet Ishaq (p), a congregation prayer could be offered with not less than eleven persons including an Imam. But they were all only ten ( Yusuf was in the well and Benjamin had stayed home ). One brother suggested, make God as the Imam and stand all the eleven in a row, and offer the prayer and seek God’s help in keeping the truth in secret. They all agreed and prayed for the truth not to be revealed to their father.


After the party left, Yacoob and Dunya were restless and worried about Yusuf. Every now and then Yacoob used to ask Duniya to go to the tree and see into the desert if party of his sons was returning. Both father and daughter stationed themselves on a mound with their eyes fixed towards the desert anxiously waiting to see the party. Atlast the party of the brothers of Yusuf was sighted and Yacoob anxiously told Duniya to see if Yusuf was there among them. Duniya cried and said she did not see Yusuf among the brothers. Yacoob gave out a loud sigh of sorrow and grief. The sons returned to their father and related the fabricated story of Yusuf beinb devoured by a wolf. They showed the father Yusuf’s shirt with blood all over. Seeing which, Yacoob swooned and Duniya began weeping. Since the shirt was untorn to which Yacoob said taunting that“ the wolf was so friendly that it did not hurt even the shirt and swallowed Yusuf as a whole”.


Yacoob knew the whole truth and wept only for the separation from his beloved son. Yacoob told his sons that what they reported was the truth, to bring the wolf to him who ate away Yusuf and he would ask him if he had actually eaten him away. The sons went into the desert, caught hold of a wolf and brought the beast to Yacoob saying that was the wolf who ate away Yusuf. On being asked by Prophet Yacoob, the beast spoke aloud in clear lnguage, saying”O Apostle of God; God is my witness that I did not eat Yusuf, the blood and flesh of the apostles of God is forbidden for us. I am new to this place, on my visit to my relatives in this Sahara, your sons have unnecessarily caught me and have brought me to thee”.Yacoob released the beast and let him return to the Sahara.


The Sixth Holy Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (a.s.) said, While Yusuf was still in the well Angel Gabriel told him pray to God for help.” Soon after a merchants carvan  lost its way and arrived at the deserted well in which Yusuf was lying. One of the travelers put his bucket into the well to fetch water.  Yusuf held the rope or got into the bucket and got out of the well along with the bucket. The people wondered and kept him in their camp. The brothers of Yusuf used to come to the well every day to know what had happened to Yusuf. When they found Yusuf is safe with the travelers, they claimed Yusuf to be their slave and had run away from them. At last, the travelers purchased Yusuf as a slave. The brothers of Yusuf told the merchants that Yusuf their slave was a habitual runaway, hence they should keep him always bound in chain. While passing through the desert the carvan passed the cemetry in which was buried Yusuf’s mother. Yusuf fell upon his mother’s grave and wept remembering her. Not finding Yusuf in the carvan, the traveller went in search of him and finding Yusuf at the grave rendered a violent slap on his face and Yusuf’s face began bleeding at which aviolent thunder shook the skies and a heavy lightening began to dazzle the eyes, lighting the whole desert as if it aimed to strike the carvan only.The merchants got perturbed and on enquiry came to know about the atrocity done by the traveller against Yusuf. The merchants immediately relieved Yusuf of the chains and provided him with a selected steed to ride along with them.


When the carvan entered Egypt the crowd was stunned at the enchanting beauty of Yusuf. Very soon the news about wonder-striking beauty of Yusuf spread in the town like wild-fire and the wealthy ones of the city flocked to the slave-market to purchase Yusuf. At last the Vazier purchased him for his wife Zulaikha, and Yusuf was assigned a respectable place of service in the palace. Zulaikha like Yusuf very much. Day by day the fire of love for Yusuf in the heart of Zulaikha got inflamed, and every time she endeavored to mislead him towards gaining her object of illegal union with him. Yusuf strengthened himself seeking protection from God.


Every day, Zulaikha, cast her eyes upon him and said, “lie with me”. But he refused saying my master is not in the house. There is none greater than me in the house except thee, and thou art his wife; how could I do this wickedness and a sin? And it came to pass again and again every time Zulaikha asked him to lie by her or to be with her. One day when there was no one in the house, she caught him by his garment saying, “Lie with me” and Yusuf let his torn garment jn her hand and fled, and got outside the house. When master came…….