Surah Yusuf (12) - The Best Of Stories 8/15

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim, Al-hamduli Llahi Rabb al-'alameen wa salla "Nahnu naqussu 'alayka ahsan al-qasasi bimaaa awhainaaa ilayka haadha al-Qur'an"(12:3) "We do relate unto thee [Muhammad] the most beautiful of stories, in that We reveal to thee this (portion of the) Qur'an".

A'udhu billahi, as-samee', al 'aleem, min al-shaytan al-la'een al-rajim. Bismillah, al-Rahman, al-Rahim. Al-hamduli-Llahi Rabb-il-'alameen, Wa as-sallal-Lahu 'ala Muhammad wa 'ala ahli baytihi at-tayyibeen at-tahireen. Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa aali Muhammad.

Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, in this glorious book the Qur'an, which we shall try and study in these episodes, specifically the chapter of Yusuf, Allah mentions the Holy Qur'an: "wa laqad yassarn al-Qur'an lil dhikr"(54:22)- We have made the Qur'an easy for remembrance', "fa hal min muddakir"-'is there anyone who wishes to be admonished?'

Within this Qur'an, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, has given examples, numerous different types of examples, anecdotes that you and I can learn from. For example, one anecdote that Allah mentions which is quite clear and hits home very well is regarding polytheism. Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, says these individuals who worship other lords, when a fly comes to them and takes something away from them, ask them, are they able to retrieve it back? Are their lords able to retrieve it back?

You know when an individual is worshiping idols, something they tend to do is give sacrifices to the idol or to give gifts to the idol, so they will bring milk in a bowl or a plate, honey, sweets, food, etc., and gift it to the idol. Using this example, it is as if Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, is saying that when this individual has given a gift to their lord in the form of milk, for example, in a plate, when a fly comes and sits on the edge of that plate and takes a sip of the milk and flies away, is there any way in which this individual or their lord, their idol, is able to bring back this milk? Look at how weak the one asking and the asked from is, Allah says look at how weak this individual who is worshiping this idol is that they can not bring it back, and look at how weak this idol is that even it can bring it back.

These are the types of examples that Allah gives throughout the Qur'an. Very poignant examples to the point, very clear-cut. And the more you contemplate on them, the more lessons you are able to extrapolate from them.

Together with the Qur'an, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, has gifted us with the Ahlul Bayt, 'alayhum as-salaam. These two will never separate from one another until they reach the Holy Prophet in the next life. The reason why we need the Ahlul Bayt for the Qur'an and its understanding is because they are the walking Qur'an, they are the "Qur'an al naatiq", they are the speaking Qur'an, the talking Qur'an, they live the Qur'an, they breathe the Qur'an, their actions are in coherence with the Qur'an. If we want to interpret the Qur'an, then we go to them and we ask them and we look at their ahadith and we ensure that we do not contradict in our understanding of their understanding of the Qur'an.

That Ahlul Bayt, alayhum as-salaam, have mentioned to you and I, that even if the Qur'an is on one side, but they on the other, there are people who are claiming to accept the Qur'an, but the Ahlul Bayt are on the other side, then you and I should follow the Ahlul Bayt. Because at the end of the day, this Qur'an is in text format, the Qur'an that is being lived is through the Ahlul Bayt, 'alayhum as-salaam) and that is why when the 12th holy Imam comes, whatever he says we should accept without questioning, "sam'an wa taa'atan", we should accept without questioning, we can question to understand at the time, but not question in order to reject.

Imam Ali, 'alayhi as-salaam, when speaking about the holy Qur'an, says a famous statement. He says, "Allah Allah fil Qur'an". Giving advice, he says, "I advise you, I admonish you with the Holy Qur'an". And then he goes a step further and he says, "Let it not be that someone should be quicker than you in acting in accordance with the Qur'an."

As soon as you learn something from the Qur'an, put it into action, do not wait for somebody else to implement it and then you implement it. Compete, compete, even the Qur'an says, compete with one another, the mu'minun should compete with one another, the believers should compete in a beneficial manner, in a positive manner. Compete with one another in who can serve one another, compete with one another, in who can act upon the Qur'an, compete with one another with who can memorize the Qur'an, compete in these beneficial methods and manners.

So when Imam puts all this emphasis on the Qur'an, the duty lies on your shoulder and my shoulders that we, when we read the Holy Qur'an, we should implement it straightaway, do not leave something for tomorrow. The Holy Prophet peace be upon him, when he used to put a morsel of food in his mouth, he used to say that "I am not certain whether or not I will swallow this morsel of food or not", whether death will come before he swallows the morsel of food, whether he will still be alive to see that time when he swallows that food. This is how you and I should be.

As soon as we learn something beneficial, something good, something that will take us closer to Allah, Subhanah wa Ta'ala, we should not delay in implementing it. We are told from the Ahlul Bayt that work in this dunya as if you are going to live forever. If you are going to live forever, you will keep extending your deadlines for this dunya, no problem, you will do it tomorrow if you can not do it today. But live in this dunya for the aakhira as if you are going to die tomorrow that if there is something that you have learned and you are going to die tomorrow, you and I would want to implement it right away.

I must emphasise here that before we implement anything that is recommended, the obligatory actions come first. If we are not doing all of our waajibaat, we are not staying away from the muharramaat, then there is very little benefit, if any, in going towards the mustahabbat. If an individual has qadhaa' salah to pray, then they need to fulfill that first. If an individual has qadhaa' fast to fulfill, they need to act upon that first as well.

Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, tells us through the ahadith of the Ahlul Bayt that reciting this Qur'an cleanses our hearts and as it cleanses our hearts, pure knowledge can come into it.

Continuing the Surah of Yusuf, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, says in verse 22: "Wa lamma balagha ashuddahu aataynaahu hukman wa 'ilman"(12:22).That when Yusuf reached an age of maturity and understanding, Allah gifted him with two particular gifts. The first one was 'hukman wa 'ilmaa'.

"Hukm" here is not wisdom, "Hukm" here is judgment, that Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, gives him clear judgment that now Yusuf is able to decipher between right and wrong and Yusuf is going to need this for what is about to occur next with Zulaykha. So Allah gives him clear judgment such that he will never come across a situation, but that he will know the path that Allah wants him to take and the path that is going to take him astray. The second thing that Allah gifts him with his knowledge, by knowledge we do not mean the knowledge which is found in books, this is true knowledge from Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala.

The famous hadith of Unwan al-Basri when he comes to the sixth holy Imam, he is ninety four years old. If you have not read this hadith, then I highly recommend you to search for it online, it is available in English as well. This ninety four year old man is studying under Maalik in Madinah and the sixth holy Imam comes to town. He lets go of the studies of Maalik because he realises true knowledge is with the Ahlul Bayt, alayhum as-salaam. He comes to the to the sixth holy Imam, he tries to knock the door, he is not given an audience. He goes to the shrine of the Holy Prophet, he prays two rak'ahs Salah, he beseeches and does tawassul with the Prophet and asks the Prophet, "Please, place for me a place in the heart of Al-Sadiq, in the heart of Ja'far al-Sadiq."

After that he is able to meet the sixth holy Imam. Imam gives him nine pieces of advice, but one thing that stands out which relates to our discussion here about knowledge. Imam says "Al 'ilmu nurun yaqdhiffuhu Allah fi qalbi man yashaa"-'that knowledge is a light, knowledge is not text, knowledge is a light that Allah places in the heart of those whom He chooses.' It is not possible that true knowledge comes to our hearts when it is still impure, and one of the best ways to purify this heart is by reading the holy book of Allah, the Qur'an and acting upon it.

Yusuf is now given 'hukman wa 'ilmaa'- he is given clear judgment and knowledge and Allah says: "wa kadhaalika najzal muhsinin"(12:22)- 'and this is how We gift and We reward the good doers.'

Now, the crux of this story unfolds. You know, if I was to ask you without knowing Surah Yusuf, if you were to tell me about the best story that you think Allah would mention in the Qur'an, you may have said that it was to do with Salah, it was to do with Sawm, to do with Hajj or Jihad, certain actions that are incumbent upon us. It may be about a man who prays and does istighfaar all day and night, but that would be a very impractical story, that story would not have practical benefit to it. Here Allah has chosen the best of stories to be a story where there are vices and virtues mixed within, where there is man and woman, and where a woman becomes infatuated with a man, but where a man is able to hold on to his desires and take the reins of his desires and control himself.

This is a practical story that Allah is giving us, that the most powerful desire within man is the desire for the opposite gender. If man can control that desire and conquer it, then he can control anything after it. "Al mu'min kal jabal", Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, says in a hadith from the Prophet that 'The believer is like a mountain', that even tornadoes and hurricanes cannot move him.

But if we simply stick to the surface, if we just read and we do not act, then like the Arabic saying says, "Ka'annahul ra'ad wa la yumtiru ba'ad". It is like an individual who is thunder, he makes a loud noise, he speaks loudly, he calls and he shouts and he says he knows, but there is no action that comes after it. The only reason you listen to thunder is to see rain falling, to be gifted by rain and the blessing of rain. A farmer if he hears thunder, he gets excited because action is meant to follow. But if somebody simply reads and reads or listens and listens and does not act, then where is the benefit in this action?

Now, Yusuf, 'alayhi-s-salaam, comes across Zulaykha. It is clear from the verses of the Qur'an and the way in which it has been written that Zulaykha expects that Yusuf will listen to her. It seems that Yusuf has been a very obedient servant until now, remember, this is the lady who wanted to take him either as a son or a servant.

"Wa raawadat hul lati fi baytiha 'an nafsihi"(12:23). Now Zulaykha comes and tries to seduce Yusuf, what does she do? She calls him into a room where nothing else is there, she has emptied out a room, nobody else is present. This palace must have had many rooms, she has cleared out a room, she has planned and she has plotted.

But remember, "wa makaru wa makar Allah wAllahu khayrul maakirin"(3:54)- 'there are people who try to deceive God and plot against Him, but God will also plot against them and you should know that God is the best of plotters.' (8:30) He will use their deceiving, conniving nature against them.

Zulaykha tries to seduce Yusuf, she calls him into a room and then the Qur'an says, "wa ghallaqat il abwaab"(12:23). She did not just close the doors, "wa ghallaqat il abwab"- 'she tightly closed these doors', she double locked them, she checked to make sure that they could not open and nobody would come inside. And then she commanded Yusuf. "Wa qaalat hayta lak"(12:23)- 'now she commands him, come to me.' She expects that Yusuf will come because he has always listened to her whenever the Aziz has wanted and demanded something and instructed, Yusuf has fulfilled. Whenever Zulaykha has commanded, Yusuf has fulfilled. So why should it be any different now?

So now she sets the scene, the environment is ready, before we go on, at this point, put yourself in that situation. That there is a beautiful person of the opposite gender, you are not a married individual, the doors are shut, no one is watching, no one will know, she wants and you want, you want because you are a man or a woman, you have natural desires, she clearly has fallen and is infatuated with you. Think about what would cross your mind. At the least many a people will say that the thought of doing haraam at least would cross their minds, just the thought of doing haraam might cross their minds.

But this man was a man of purity, this was Yusuf,'alayhi-s-salaam. He was able to - he had desires, the holy Prophet had desires. If desires were bad, if anger was wrong, if desires for the opposite gender was evil, then why would God had given it to the Holy Prophet peace be upon him, the best of creation? It is good, so long as it is controlled and so long as it is tamed. So long as you are in control of the desires, not that the desires should be in control of you. So long as you use it in a halaal fashion, not that it takes you towards haraam.

Here Zulaykha now commands Yusuf to come to him. The next sentence that Yusuf says is the most beautiful sentence which shows you how Yusuf perceives God and what it is about God and his relationship with God, which does not even allow the temptation to enter into Yusuf's heart.

To understand this sentence, we will need a complete episode, so InshaAllah we will continue in our next episode, where we will look at this particular sentence and this relationship between Yusuf and his beloved master Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala.

We end by asking Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, to give us this Qur'an in our hearts, to cleanse our hearts and purify our hearts of all illnesses and diseases such that He can place within our hearts true knowledge.

We ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, to accept our fasts in this holy month of Ramadan and the little a'maal that we do and wherever we fall short, we ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, to complete our actions for us.

Wa salla Allahu 'ala sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala ahli baytihi, at-tayyibeen, at-tahireen.