By Sadia Dehlvi
Feb 07, 2016
The Quran says, “We tell you the best of stories so you may reflect.” My favourite story in the Quran is the most detailed one, that of Prophet Joseph. I particularly read it when I feel low. It’s a story about love, wealth, family, betrayal, tribulations, hope, failure, strategy, success and, above all, complete trust in God.
In the chapter titled “Yusuf”, Joseph was revealed in the fifth year of migration to Medina, the most difficult year for the new Muslim community. It came to be called, the year of sadness, for Hazrat Khadijah, Prophet Mohammad’s wife and Hazrat Hamza, his uncle died that year. There were sanctions against the Muslims by the Pagan Arabs, which led to extremely difficult situations.
As a young boy, Prophet Joseph dreamt of 11 stars, the sun and the moon prostrating to him. He narrated this dream to his father, Prophet Jacob, who said that God would grant him a high position and his 11 brothers would one day prostrate to him. His father warned him not to reveal this dream to anyone, particularly his brothers, lest they plot against him.
Jealous of Joseph, his half brothers tricked their father into letting Joseph go with them to tend sheep. They throw Joseph in a well. Then shedding crocodile tears, they return to inform their father that a wolf devoured Joseph.
Meanwhile, a caravan passed by and a man rescued Joseph, selling him as a slave to a rich man of Egypt. Later, Zulekha, the lady of the house fell in love with him. Finding Joseph’s beauty irresistible, she tried to seduce him but he managed to escape. Later, Zulekha falsely accused Jospeh of molesting her. It was proved otherwise, as his shirt was found torn at the back and not from the front.
To stop women from shaming her, Zulekha made a plan to demonstrate the wondrous appearance of Joseph. She arranged a grand banquet and invited many women of the town. She gave a sharp knife to every lady to peel the fruit and asked Joseph to enter the room. Stunned by his good looks, they cut their fingers instead of the fruit. However, to prevent a scandal, Joseph is sent to prison. He spends many years in prison, often interpreting dreams for fellow inmates. The dreams often came true.
Once the king had a troubled dream and someone told him about Joseph. The prophet interpreted the dream and foretold that there would be the seven years of famine after seven years of a good harvest, and the necessity of storing grain for the barren years. Joseph was given charge of the granary and, later, the king abdicated his throne and made Joseph the king of Egypt.
Eventually, during the famine, Joseph’s brothers came to get provisions for him. He recognised them but they didn’t recognise Joseph. He then asked them about their father, and they replied that he pined for Joseph, their dead brother. Finally Joseph is united with his father and his brothers prostrate before him.
Despite all odds, and being tested internally and externally, Joseph remained steadfast in patience, faith and love for the Lord. Almost everyone, including his own brothers, betrayed him, but Joseph approached his success, power and fame with humility. Above all, Joseph invokes God’s mercy and forgives everyone.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.