Allah revealed Surah Yusuf in the Year of Grief, the year when the Prophet (ﷺ) lost two of his biggest supporters – his uncle Abu Talib and his beloved wife Khadijah (ra).
This Surah is a very unique Surah. Unlike the other Prophets whose stories are found in various chapters of the Qur’an, the story of Yusuf (as) is contained within this one Surah. It is the only Surah in the Qur’an that discusses one story from the beginning to the end.
Allah describes this story, the story of Yusuf (as) as the Best of Stories.
Stories are one of the most effective ways of driving home a lesson. And this story includes a number of factors that makes it the Best: The Teller of the Story i.e. Allah, it was revealed in the most beautiful and powerful languages i.e. Arabic, it is captivating and persuasive, it has a fascinating plot, a well chosen setting and unforgettable characters – the best of whom was Yusuf himself! After all Yusuf (as) was the son of a Prophet (Yaqub), who was the son of a Prophet (Ishaaq), who was the son of a Prophet (Ibrahim). And Yusuf (as) himself was endowed with Prophethood later on…
So in terms of authenticity, ease of style and beauty in meaning, the story of Yusuf (as) is just unrivaled! And also, it is a true story, a story wherein we can derive many lessons for ourselves as well.
After praising this story, Allah then relates the events of Yusuf (as) and his father in the most amazing manner.
Yusuf (as) has a dream where he sees 11 stars, the sun and the moon prostrating to him. His father tells him not to mention this dream to his brothers, for fear that they might plot against him out of jealousy.
Here we derive a powerful lesson. If you feel someone envies you, or hates or dislikes you, then be very careful and don’t tell them everything.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said : Seek help for fulfilling needs by being discrete [i.e., when you make plans, do not announce it to everyone], for every owner of a blessing is envied. [Sahih al-Jami’]
Shaytan strives to create dissension between people. And jealousy is one of the prime reasons behind broken friendships and relationships.
So if Allah has blessed you with something, be discrete about it.
The story then moves on to the conversation between Yusuf’s (as) older brothers.
They were convinced that Yusuf (as) and Bin Yamin (Yusuf’s full brother) were more beloved to their father Yaqub (as), than themselves. Were they right in thinking this way? Possibly.
Yusuf (as) and his brother Binyamin were the youngest of the lot, and young children generally require more attention than older kids. It is also quite possible that Yaqub (as) loved Yusuf (as) more than them, simply because of his good character. He was respectful to his father, kind, loving and caring. Think of someone you really like…and now think about their character. It’s probably very good right?
So the older brothers, out of their immense jealousy plotted and planned to get rid of Yusuf (as). In their minds, this was the only way of re-routing their father’s attention towards them. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind”!
Envy is an evil trait.
Anas ibn Malik reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: Neither nurse mutual hatred, nor jealousy, nor enmity, and become as fellow brothers and servants of Allah. It is not lawful for a Muslim that he should keep his relations estranged with his brother beyond three days. [Muslim]
The Prophet (ﷺ) said,”Beware of envy because envy consumes (destroys) the virtues just as the fire consumes the firewood,” or he said “grass.” [Abu Dawud].
So despite Yaqub (as) concerns for Yusuf’s (as) safety, the brothers somehow managed to convince him to allow them take their little brother out for a day of fun and enjoyment.
But their intent was evil.
They threw Yusuf (as) into the depths of a well, and they returned home to Yaqub (as) later that night, faking tears, and holding up Yusuf’s (as) shirt that they had smeared with false blood. They claimed that a wolf had eaten him.
Yaqub (as) knew something was not right about their story, but he resorted to beautiful patience and turned to Allah.
The brothers of Yusuf hoped to receive the love of their father. But what they got in the end was quite the opposite.