Surah Yusuf Ayat 50-77

{50. And the king said: “Bring him to me.” But when the messenger came to him, [Yusuf] said: “Return to your king and ask him, ‘What happened to the women who cut their hands Surely, my Lord (Allah) is Well-Aware of their plot.”’ 

51. (The king) said (to the women): “What was your affair when you did seek to seduce Yusuf” The women said: “Allah forbid! No evil know we against him!” The wife of the Aziz said: “Now the truth is manifest (to all); it was I who sought to seduce him, and he is surely of the truthful. ” 

52. Then Yusuf said: “I asked for this inquiry in order that he may know that I betrayed him not in (his) absence.” And, verily, Allah guides not the plot of the betrayers. 

53. “And I free not myself (from the blame). Verily, the self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His mercy (upon whom He wills). Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”}

The King investigates what happened between the Wife of the Aziz, the Women in the City, and Yusuf

Allah narrates to us that when the king was conveyed the interpretation of his dream, he liked Yusuf’s interpretation and felt sure that it was true. He realized the virtue of Prophet Yusuf, recognized his knowledge in the interpretation of dreams and valued his good conduct with his subjects in his country. The king said,“Bring him to me.” ‘Release him from prison and bring him to me.’ When the king’s emissary came to Yusuf and conveyed the news of his imminent release, Yusuf refused to leave the prison until the king and his subjects declare his innocence and the integrity of his honor, denouncing the false accusation that the wife of the `Aziz made against him. He wanted them to know that sending him to prison was an act of injustice and aggression, not that he committed an offense that warranted it. He said,“Return to your lord (i.e. king…)”

The Sunnah of our Prophet praised Prophet Yusuf and asserted his virtues, honor, elevated rank and patience, may Allah’s peace and blessings be on him. The Musnad and the Two Sahihs recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said,

“We are more liable to be in doubt than Ibrahim when he said,“My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead…” And may Allah send His mercy on Lut! He wished to have powerful support! If I were to stay in prison for such a long time as Yusuf did, I would have accepted the offer.” (Ahmad 2:326, Fath Al-Bari 8:216, Muslim 1:133)

In another narration collected by Ahmad from Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said about Yusuf’s statement,

“…and ask him, ‘What happened to the women who cut their hands Surely, my Lord (Allah) is Well-Aware of their plot.”’ If it was me, I would have accepted the offer rather than await my exoneration first.” (Ahmad 2:346)

Allah said “that the king asked”,”He said, “What was your affair when you did seek to seduce Yusuf?” The king gathered those women who cut their hands, while being hosted at the house of the wife of the Aziz. He asked them all, even though he was directing his speech at the wife of his minister, the Aziz in particular. He asked the women who cut their hands,“What was your affair…?”, what was your story with regards to,“when you did seek to seduce Yusuf” on the day of the banquet “The women said: “Allah forbid! No evil know we against him!” The women answered the king, Allah forbid that Yusuf be guilty of this, for by Allah, we never knew him to do evil.’ This is when,“The wife of the Aziz said: “Now the truth has Hashasa…” or the truth is manifest to all, according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others. (At-Tabari 16:138) Hashasa also means, ‘became clear and plain’,“it was I who sought to seduce him, and he is surely of the truthful.” when he said,“It was she that sought to seduce me.””in order that he may know that I betrayed him not in (his) absence.”

She said, ‘I admit this against myself so that my husband knows that I did not betray him in his absence and that adultery did not occur. I tried to seduce this young man and he refused, and I am admitting this so that he knows I am innocent,’“And, verily, Allah guides not the plot of the betrayers. And I free not myself (from the blame).” She said, ‘I do not exonerate myself from blame, because the soul wishes and lusts, and this is what made me seduce him,’ for, “Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His mercy (upon whom He wills).” whom Allah the Exalted wills to grant them immunity,“Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” This is the most viable and suitable understanding for the continuity of the story and the meanings of Arabic speech. Al-Mawardi mentioned this in his Tafsir, in support of it, it was also preferred by Imam Abu Al-Abbas Ibn Taymiyyah who wrote about it in detail in a separate work.

It was said Yusuf peace be upon him is the one who said,“in order that he (the Aziz) may know that I betrayed him not” with his wife,“in (his) absence).” until the end of Ayah (53) He said, ‘I sent back the emissary, so that the king would investigate my innocence and the Aziz be certain that,“I betrayed him not”, with his wife,“in (his) absence. And, verily, Allah guides not the plot of the betrayers.” This is the only explanation presented by Ibn Jarir At-Tabari and Ibn Abi Hatim, but the first view is stronger and more obvious because it is a continuation of what the wife of the `Aziz said in the presence of the king. Yusuf was not present at all during this time, for he was released later on and brought to the king by his order.

{54. And the king said: “Bring him to me that I may attach him to my person.” Then, when he spoke to him, he said: “Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.” 

55.  Yusuf  said: “Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge.”}

Yusuf’s Rank with the King of Egypt

Allah states that when he became aware of Yusuf’s innocence and his innocense of what he was accused of, the king said,“Bring him to me that I may attach him to my person.”, ‘that I may make him among my close aids and associates,”Then, when he spoke to him”, when the king spoke to Yusuf and further recognized his virtues, great ability, brilliance, good conduct and perfect mannerism, he said to him,“Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.” The king said to Yusuf, `You have assumed an exalted status with us and are indeed fully trusted.’ Yusuf, peace be upon him said,“Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge.”

Yusuf praised himself, for this is allowed when one’s abilities are unknown and there is a need to do so. He said that he is,“Hafiz”, an honest guard,“Alim”, having knowledge and wisdom about the job he is to be entrusted with. Prophet Yusuf asked the king to appoint him as minister of finance for the land, responsible for the harvest storehouses, in which they would collect produce for the years of drought which he told them will come. He wanted to be the guard, so that he could dispense the harvest in the wisest, best and most beneficial way. The king accepted Yusuf’s offer, for he was eager to draw Yusuf close to him and to honor him. So Allah said,

{56. Thus did We give full authority to Yusuf in the land, to take possession therein, when or where he likes. We bestow of Our mercy on whom We will, and We make not to be lost the reward of the good doers. 

57. And verily, the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believed and had Taqwa.}

Yusuf’s Reign in Egypt

Allah said next,“Thus did We give full authority to Yusuf in the land”, in Egypt,“to take possession therein, when or where he likes.”

As-Suddi and Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said that this part of the Ayah means, “To do whatever he wants therein.” Ibn Jarir at Tabari said that it means, “He used to move about freely in the land after being imprisoned, suffering from hardship and the disgrace of slavery.” Allah said next,“We bestow of Our mercy on whom We will, and We make not to be lost the reward of the good doers.”

Allah says here, We did not let the patience of Yusuf, from the harm his brothers exerted on him and being imprisoned because of the wife of the Aziz, to be lost. Instead, Allah the Exalted and Most Honored rewarded him with His aid and victory,“And We make not to be lost the reward of the good doers. And verily, the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believed and had Taqwa.”

Allah states that what He has prepared for His Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him, in the Hereafter is much greater, subs- tantial and honored than the authority He gave him in this life. Allah said about His Prophet Sulayman (Solomon), peace be upon him, “This is Our gift, so spend or withhold, no account will be asked of you.” And verily, for him is a near access to Us, and a good (final) return (Paradise).” (38:39-40)

Yusuf, peace be upon him, was appointed minister of finance by Ar-Rayyan bin Al-Walid, king of Egypt at the time, instead of the `Aziz who bought him and the husband of she who tried to seduce him. The king of Egypt embraced Islam at the hands of Yusuf, peace be upon him, according to Mujahid.

{58. And Yusuf’s brethren came and they entered unto him, and he recognized them, but they recognized him not. 

59. And when he furnished them with their provisions, he said: “Bring me a brother of yours from your father. See you not that I give full measure, and that I am the best of the hosts” 

60. “But if you bring him not to me, there shall be no measure (of corn) for you with me, nor shall you come near me.” 

61. They said: “We shall try to get permission (for him) from his father, and verily, we shall do it.” 

62. And [Yusuf] told his servants to put their money into their bags, so that they might know it when they go back to their people; in order that they might come again.}

Yusuf’s Brothers travel to Egypt

As-Suddi, Muhammad bin Ishaq and several others said that the reason why Yusuf’s brothers went to Egypt, is that after Yusuf became minister of Egypt and the seven years of abundance passed, then came the seven years of drought that struck all areas of Egypt. The drought also reached the area of Kana’an (Canaan), where Prophet Ya`qub, peace be upon him, and his children resided. Prophet Yusuf efficiently guarded the people’s harvest and collected it, and what he collected became a great fortune for the people. This also permitted Yusuf to give gifts to the people who sought his aid from various areas who came to buy food and provisions for their families. Yusuf would not give a family man more than whatever a camel could carry, as annual provisions for them. Yusuf himself did not fill his stomach from this food, nor did the king and his aids eat except one meal a day. By doing so, the people could sustain themselves with what they had for the remainder of the seven years. Indeed, Yusuf was a mercy from Allah sent to the people of Egypt.

Yusuf’s brothers were among those who came to Egypt to buy food supplies, by the order of their father. They knew that the Aziz of Egypt was selling food to people who need it for a low price, so they took some merchandise from their land with them to exchange it for food. They were ten, because Ya’qub peace be upon him kept his son and Yusuf’s brother Binyamin with him. Binyamin was the dearest of his sons to him after Yusuf.

When Prophet Yusuf’s brothers entered on him in his court and the center of his authority, he knew them the minute he saw them. However, they did not recognize him because they got rid of him when he was still young, and sold him to a caravan of travelers while unaware of their destination. They could not have imagined that Yusuf would end up being a minister, and this is why they did not recognize him, while he did recognize them. As-Suddi said that Yusuf started talking to his brothers and asked them, “What brought you to my land” They said, “O, Aziz, we came to buy provisions.” He asked them, “You might be spies.” They said, “Allah forbids.” He asked them, “Where are you from” They said, “From the area of Kana’an, and our father is Allah’s Prophet Yaqub.” He asked them, “Does he have other children besides you” They said, “Yes, we were twelve brothers. Our youngest died in the desert, and he used to be the dearest to his father. His full brother is alive and his father kept him, so that his closeness compensates him for losing our youngest brother [who died].” Yusuf ordered that his brothers be honored and allowed to remain,“And when he furnished them with their provisions” according to their needs and gave them what they wanted to buy, he said to them, “Bring me your brother from your father’s side whom you mentioned, so that I know that you have told me the truth.” He continued,“See you not that I give full measure, and that I am the best of the hosts” encouraging them to return to him. He then threatened them,“But if you bring him not to me, there shall be no measure (of corn) for you with me.”

He threatened them that if the next time they come without Binyamin with them, they will not be allowed to buy the food that they need,“…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.”” They said, `We will try our best to bring him with us, so that we spare no effort to prove to you that we are truthful in what we told you about ourselves.’ Allah said,“And [Yusuf] told his servants”, or his slaves,“to put their money”, or the merchandise they brought with them to exchange for food,“into their bags”, while they were unaware,“in order that they might come again.” It was said that Yusuf did this because he feared that his brothers might not have any more merchandise they could bring with them to exchange for food.

{63. So, when they returned to their father, they said: “O our father! No more measure of grain shall we get (unless we take our brother). So send our brother with us, and we shall get our measure and truly, we will guard him.” 

64. He said: “Can I entrust him to you except as I entrusted his brother [Yusuf] to you aforetime But Allah is the Best to guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.”}

Yusuf’s Brothers ask Yaqub’s Permission to send Their Brother Binyamin with Them to Egypt

Allah says that when they went back to their father,“they said: “O our father! No more measure of grain shall we get…” ‘after this time, unless you send our brother Binyamin with us. So send him with us, and we shall get our measure and we shall certainly guard him.’ Some scholars read this Ayah in a way that means, ‘and he shall get his ration.’ They said,“and truly, we will guard him.”, ‘do not fear for his safety, for he will be returned back to you.’ This is what they said to Ya`qub about their brother Yusuf,“Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily, we will take care of him.” (12:12) This is why Prophet Ya`qub said to them,“Can I entrust him to you except as I entrusted his brother [Yusuf] to you aforetime?” He asked them, `Will you do to him except what you did to his brother Yusuf before, when you took him away from me and separated me from him”But Allah is the Best to guard, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.” Ya`qub said, `Allah has the most mercy with me among all those who show mercy, He is compassionate with me for my old age, feebleness and eagerness for my son. I invoke Allah to return him to me, and to allow him and I to be together; for surely, He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy.’

{65. And when they opened their bags, they found their money had been returned to them. They said: “O our father! What (more) can we desire This, our money has been returned to us; so we shall get (more) food for our family, and we shall guard our brother and add one more measure of a camel’s load. This quantity is easy (for the king to give).” 

66. He Ya`qub said: “I will not send him with you until you swear a solemn oath to me in Allah’s Name, that you will bring him back to me unless you are yourselves surrounded (by enemies),” And when they had sworn their solemn oath, he said: “Allah is the Witness to what we have said.”}

They Find Their Money returned to Their Bags

Allah says, when Yusuf’s brothers opened their bags, they found their merchandise inside them, for Yusuf had ordered his servants to return it to their bags. When they found their merchandise in their bags,“They said: “O our father! What (more) can we desire…”, what more can we ask for,“This, our money has been returned to us” Qatadah commented (that they said), “What more can we ask for, our merchandise was returned to us and the Aziz has given us the sufficient load we wanted?” (At-Tabari 16:162)  They said next,“so we shall get (more) food for our family”, ‘if you send our brother with us the next time we go to buy food for our family,”and we shall guard our brother and add one more measure of a camel’s load.” since Yusuf, peace be upon him, gave each man a camel’s load of corn.“This quantity is easy (for the king to give).” They said these words to make their case more appealing, saying that taking their brother with them is worth this gain,“He [Ya`qub (Jacob)] said: “I will not send him with you until you swear a solemn oath to me in Allah’s Name…”, until you swear by Allah with the strongest oath,“that you will bring him back to me unless you are yourselves surrounded (by enemies)”, unless you were all overwhelmed and were unable to rescue him,“And when they had sworn their solemn oath“, he affirmed it further, saying,“Allah is the Witness to what we have said.” Ibn Ishaq commented, “Ya`qub did that because he had no choice but to send them to bring necessary food supplies for their survival. So he sent Binyamin with them.” (At-Tabari 16:164)

{67. And he said: “O my sons! Do not enter by one gate, but enter by different gates, and I cannot avail you against Allah at all. Verily, the decision rests only with Allah. In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him.” 

68. 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 Yaqub’s inner self which he discharged. And verily, he was endowed with knowledge because We had taught him, but most men know not.}

Yaqub orders His Children to enter Egypt from Different Gates

Allah says that Yaqub, peace be upon him, ordered his children, when he sent Binyamin with them to Egypt, to enter from different gates rather than all of them entering from one gate. Ibn Abbas, Muhammad bin Kab, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak Qatadah, As-Suddi and several others said that he feared the evil eye for them, because they were handsome and looked beautiful and graceful. He feared that people might direct the evil eye at them, because the evil eye truly harms, by Allah’s decree, and brings down the mighty warrior-rider from his horse. He next said, “and I cannot avail you against Allah at all.” this precaution will not resist Allah’s decision and appointed decree. Verily, whatever Allah wills, cannot be resisted or stopped,“Verily, the decision rests only with Allah. In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him.” 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 Yaqub’s inner self which he discharged”, as a precaution against the evil eye,“And verily, he was endowed with knowledge because We had taught him” he had knowledge that he implemented, according to Qatadah and Ath-Thawri. (At-Tabari 16:168) Ibn Jarir said that this part of the Ayah means, he has knowledge that We taught him,“but most men know not.” (ibid) 

{69. And when they went in before Yusuf, he took his brother (Binyamin) to himself and said: “Verily, I am your brother, so grieve not for what they used to do.”}

Yusuf comforts Binyamin

Allah states that when Yusuf’s brothers went in before him along with his full brother Binyamin, he invited them to a place of honor as privileged guests. He granted them gifts and generous hospitality and kindness. He met his brother in confidence and told him the story of what happened to him and that he was in fact his brother. He said to him,“(grieve not) nor feel sad for what they did to me.” He ordered Binyamin to hide the news from them and to refrain from telling them that the `Aziz is his brother Yusuf. He plotted with him to keep him in Egypt enjoying honor and great hospitality.

{70. So when he furnished them forth with their provisions, he put the bowl in his brother’s bag. Then a crier cried: “O you (in) the caravan! Surely, you are thieves!” 

71. They, turning towards them, said: “What is it that you have lost” 

72. They said: “We have lost the bowl of the king and for him who produces it is (the reward of) a camel load; and I will be bound by it.”}

Yusuf had His Golden Bowl placed in Binyamin’s Bag; a Plot to keep Him in Egypt

After Yusuf supplied them with their provisions, he ordered some of his servants to place his silver bowl (in Binyamin’s bag), according to the majority of scholars. Some scholars said that the king’s bowl was made from gold. Ibn Zayd added that the king used it to drink from, (At-Tabari 16:172) and later, measured food grains with it since food became scarce in that time, according to Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd. (At-Tabari 16:173) Shubah said that Abu Bishr narrated that Said bin Jubayr said that Ibn Abbas said that the king’s bowl was made from silver and he used it to drink with. (At-Tabari 16:176) Yusuf had the bowl placed in Binyamin’s bag while they were unaware, and then had someone herald,“O you (in) the caravan! Surely, you are thieves!” They looked at the man who was heralding this statement and asked him,“What is it that you have lost” They said: “We have lost the bowl of the king…”, which he used to measure food grains,“and for him who produces it is a camel load”, as a reward,“and I will be bound by it.”, as assurance of delivery of the reward

{73. They said: “By Allah! Indeed you know that we came not to make mischief in the land, and we are no thieves!” 

74. They said: “What then shall be the penalty of him, if you are (proved to be) liars.” 

75.They [Yusuf’s brothers] said: “His penalty should be that he, in whose bag it is found, should be held for the punishment (of the crime). Thus we punish the wrongdoers!” 

76. So he Yusuf began (the search) in their bags before the bag of his brother. Then he brought it out of his brother’s bag. Thus did We plan for Yusuf.}

He could not take his brother by the law of the king (as a slave), except that Allah willed it. We raise to degrees whom We will, but over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing (Allah) After Yusuf’s servants accused his brothers of theft, they said,“By Allah! Indeed you know that we came not to make mischief in the land, and we are no thieves!” `Ever since you knew us, you, due to our good conduct, became certain that,“we came not to make mischief in the land, and we are no thieves!” They said, `Theft is not in our character, as you came to know.’ Yusuf’s men said,“What then shall be the penalty of him”, in reference to the thief, if it came out that he is one of you,’“if you are (proved to be) liars” They asked them, ‘What should be the thief’s punishment if he is one of you’“They said: “His penalty should be that he, in whose bag it is found, should be held for the punishment. Thus we punish the wrongdoers!”

This was the law of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, that the thief be given as a slave to the victim of theft. This is what Yusuf wanted, and this is why he started with their bags first before his brother’s bag, to perfect the plot, “Then he brought it out of his brother’s bag.” Therefore, Yusuf took Binyamin as a slave according to their judgement and the law which they believed in. So Allah said; “Thus did We plan for Yusuf.” and this is a good plot that Allah likes and prefers, because it seeks a certain benefit using wisdom and the benefit of all. Allah said next, “He could not take his brother by the law of the king” as a captive, for this was not the law of king of Egypt, according to Ad-Dahhak and several other scholars. (At-Tabari 16:188) Allah only allowed Yusuf to take his brother as a captive after his brothers agreed to this judgement beforehand, and he knew that this was their law. This is why Allah praised him when He said, “We raise to degrees whom We will” just as He said in another Ayah, “Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe.” (58:11) Allah said next, “but over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing.” Al-Hasan commented, “There is no knowledgeable person, but there is another person with more knowledge until it ends at Allah the Exalted and Most Honored. (At-Tabari 16:193)

In addition, Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Sa’id bin Jubayr said, “We were with Ibn Abbas when he narrated an amazing Hadith. A man in the audience said, All praise is to Allah! There is an all-knowing above every person endowed with knowledge.’ Ibn Abbas responded, ‘Worse it is that which you said! Allah is the All-Knowing and His knowledge is above the knowledge of every knowledgeable person.’ (Abdur-Razzaq 2:237) Simak narrated that Ikrimah said that Ibn Abbas said about Allah’s statement, “but over all those endowed with knowledge is the All-Knowing (Allah).” “This person has more knowledge than that person, and Allah is above all knowledgeable persons.” (At-Tabari 16:192) Similar was narrated from Ikrimah. (ibid) Qatadah said, “Over every person endowed with knowledge is a more knowledgeable person until all knowledge ends with Allah. Verily, knowledge started from Allah, and from Him the scholars learn, and to Him all knowledge returns.” Abdullah bin Masud read the Ayah this way, “And above every scholar, is the All-Knower (Allah).” (At-Tabari 16:193)

{77. They [Yusuf’s brothers] said: “If he steals, there was a brother of his ﴿ Yusuf ﴾who did steal before (him). ” But these things did Yusuf keep in himself, revealing not the secrets to them. He said : (within himself) “You are in an evil situation, and Allah is the Best Knower of that which you describe!”}

Yusuf’s Bothers accuse Him of Theft!

After Yusuf’s brothers saw that the king’s bowl was taken out of Binyamin’s bag, they said, “If he steals, there was a brother of his who did steal before.” They tried to show themselves as innocent from being like Binyamin, saying that he did just like a brother of his did beforehand, meaning Yusuf, peace be upon him! Allah said, “But these things did Yusuf keep in himself”, meaning the statement that he said afterwards, “You are in an evil situation, and Allah is the Best Knower of that which you describe!” Yusuf said this to himself and did not utter it aloud, thus intending to hide what he wanted to say to himself even before he said it. Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said about Allah’s statement, “But these things did Yusuf keep in himself”, “He kept in himself [his statement next], “You are in an evil situation, and Allah is the Best Knower of that which you describe!).”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 5 Pages 174-195

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