Surah Yusuf (12) - The Best Of Stories 9/15

"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-hamdulillahi rabb il-'alameen, Al-hamdu lillahi al-ladhee hadana li-hadha wa maa kunna linahtadiya lawla an hadana Allah (7:43). Thumma as-salaat wa as-salaam 'ala sayyiddina Muhammad wa 'ala ahli baytihi at-tayyibeen at-tahireen. Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammadin wa aali Muhammad. Dear viewers, Salamun alaykum jamee'an wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

This blessed month of Ramadan, Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, has made it extremely easy for us to gain thawaab, but more than thawaab, to gain His proximity, to gain closeness to Him, to cleanse our souls, to purify ourselves so that we can reflect His light.

Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, through the words of the Holy Prophet in the final sermon at the end of Sha'baan, the Prophet says that "Anafasakum fihi tasbih"-'that every breath that you take, it is like glorifying Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, "wa nawmakum fihi 'ibaadah"- 'even when you sleep and you take rest, it is counted as 'ibaadah'. Forgiveness in this month is granted, so long as you desire it, you will be able to be forgiven. Mercy is ample, so long as you open yourself to Allah, open your hearts to Allah, you shall receive more mercy than you would even have expected. And the blessings and the tawfiq and the ability and the energy that you want, you will be able to obtain it in this holy month, so that you can see through the rest of the year and gain from Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, and from His sustenance.

We should remember that when Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, when He gives nothing depletes from Him, when He gives nothing lessens from Him, so He would not hold back. If you had an infinite amount of wealth, the more you give makes no difference to you. You give because you love, you give because you want to see a smile on somebody's face when they are being given some gift, when they are accepting a gift, you want to see that smile on their face, you want them to thank, so you give. Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, does that, He gives so that we thank, He gives so that we can better ourselves, He gives so that we can become closer to Him.

What is interesting to remember and to understand is that everything we do for Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, we do not do it out of our independent nature- this is the beauty of God. Imagine a young child coming home and on Mother's Day plucking a flower from the garden, front garden, and coming and knocking on the door and giving it back to the mother. Does the mother smile? Does the mother reward this child or does the mother turn around and tell the child, I am the one who bore you, you came from me, this is my garden, I have taught you what you know, you took from my garden, you came to me and you gave back to me. What reward is there in that? What have you done independent of me that I should reward you?

That is one take, one perspective that the mother could have, but no mother acts like that. Every mother looks at the effort that the child put in, the thought process that went in, the time that the child put, the love that the child had in that action. Even if the flower was partially dead, even if the flower was not the most perfect flower, it was the fact that the child came with love, with a smile on their face and did the best that they could and the mother rewards amply.

So what do you think about Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala? When you and I raise our hands, when you and I do a good action, when you and I give our wealth in His way, we have not given anything that we own. We never owned the wealth in the first place, we never acquired the wealth independently of God, we used His hands, His hands meaning He has created these hands, through His permission we have acquired what we have acquired, we have obtained what we obtained. And we give what we give only through His permission because He has inspired us to do good so we give.

But yet He turns around and He gives us ample as if we have done something independent of Him, as if we have done something great for Him, rather, every act that we do for Him does not add to Him and everything that He gives does not subtract from Him.

In this holy month, we have opportunities to get closer to God, we should make the most of it. The Holy Prophet peace be upon him says that "The heart rusts just like metal rusts." If you leave metal outside in any type of weather, slowly but surely that metal will begin to rust over time, you need to treat it regularly in order for it to stop rusting. The Prophet says: "The heart rusts just like metal rusts. So he was asked, so what do we do to clean it? And he replies, "tilaawat ul-Qur'an", recite the Qur'an."

When you recite the Qur'an, in other ahadith we are told it is like the spring of the hearts, It makes the heart blossom, it brings about fruits and flowers in the heart, it brings about results in the heart, it cleanses the heart. The Prophet says if you want to remove this pollution and this rust that is upon our hearts, then recite the holy Qur'an.

This is the month of the Qur'an, and so I remind myself and yourself that we should spend as much time with this Qur'an as possible today, tomorrow and for the rest of our life. Many of our 'ulama on their deathbed when they would pass away or just before they would pass away, one of the major regrets that they would have is if only we spent more time with the Qur'an. They would study this and they would study that and it was beneficial but at the end of the day, they realise that the most beneficial study that they could have undertaken, the best way they could have used their time in knowledge is through the Qur'an, because everything is included in the Qur'an, we just need to know how to access what is behind these verses.

This beautiful story of Yusuf that we are discussing is a story of love, ,not a story of physical love that a woman had for a man that she was infatuated by him. No, this is a story of love, of a servant with his master; that Yusuf, 'alayhi as-salaam, is infatuated, not with Zulaykha, infatuated with Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, that he remembers Allah continuously, that he would not dare do anything or even allow an intention to cross his heart if it was not for the pleasure of Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala.

Sometimes when people love Allah, it is not possible to understand for others, when somebody is infatuated by Allah, people, other people can not understand what beauty they see in Allah. Somebody wants to pray to Him, somebody wants to talk to Him regularly, somebody wants to think about Him all the time and contemplate, somebody only wants to do good and not come close to these red lines that Allah has placed as a boundary. Others can not understand they can not understand what this person sees in God that has made him infatuated with God.

I give you an anecdote of Majnun and Layla, the famous story of Qays and Layla, as you may know, it is a story about an individual who loves God. Layla apparently did not have the physical beauty that is expected according to the status quo and Majnun was amazingly handsome. So nobody could understand why Majnun was running after Layla, why he was infatuated with her.

Once a king heard about this and he heard that there is this man, Majnun a handsome man, he knew of him, and he was infatuated by this woman called Layla. So he thought Layla must be extremely beautiful and so he summoned Layla to his palace. She came to his palace and he asked to see her face, so she lifted up the veil from her face and the king looked at her for the first time. He could not hold what was inside him, he said, "Is this your beauty?" He said, "You are so normal, what does Majnun see in you?" So Layla turned to the king and she said, "Yes, I am that Layla that Majnun is infatuated with, but you are not Majnun."

Meaning that when somebody looks at Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, through the eyes of one who loves Him, he sees what others does not see. Other people may see a creator, other people may see the actions of a creator, other people will see Him and forget Him but somebody who is infatuated with Allah, they do not forget Him.

The A'immah, 'alayhum as-salaam, have a tradition in which they say "Man ahhaba shay'an lahija bi dhikrih"- 'One who loves something is continuously speaking about it', Throughout every sentence and whenever Yusuf is speaking in this story, whenever Yusuf is speaking in this chapter, he is always reminding others about Allah, or himself about Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala.

I think the most beautiful conclusion of this entire story is in a hadith. At the end, when Ya'qub comes to Egypt and he meets Yusuf finally, he asks Yusuf like any other father would that "Tell me, oh my son, how did your brothers treat you? Tell me, I do not know what happened, they took you away from me. What happened to you? They came back with a bloodstained shirt. Were you all right? Tell me about the trials, the difficulties, what has happened to you?"

What should Yusuf reply? Should he say how he was thrown into the pits of a well, should he say how he was flung in or was he put in or was he hurt or was he injured? Should he say how he was kidnapped? Should he say the fear he had when he was being sold in the market? Should he say and talk about the fact that he did not know whose house he was going to, or which palace he was going to and how he would be treated? Should he talk about the lady who tried to seduce him? Should he talk about the difficulties when the other ladies jumped on him? Should he talk about the prison and how long it was? Should he talk about how he was accused of a grave sin, which he never did?

There was a lot to tell his father, but Yusuf turns to Ya'qub and says, "Oh my father, do not ask me how my brothers treated me, ask me how Allah has treated me. If you ask me how Allah has treated me, I shall tell you that He has looked after me in such a beautiful manner." Did you see how Yusuf was handled with so gentle care with Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala?

The fourth holy Imam talks about this in his prayers in Sahifa as-Sajjadiya. Imam says, 'Allah You are the one who nurtured me when I was young.' Do you remember a time when you were young and you had no control over your own body? Who taught you how to cry when you came out from your mother's womb? Who taught you then when you wanted milk, you should cry? How is it that when you came out you did not get strangled with the umbilical cord? How is it that when you slept in the night, you never suffocated with the quilt on top of you? How is it that when you were hot you would cry and your mother would understand what is wrong with you? How is it that when you were thirsty, you would cry and your father would wake up and make milk for you?

How did this happen? Who was looking after you? When you were in the womb of your mother, even your mother could not control the food and ensure that it got to you, who made sure the food came to you? When you were a clot inside her womb, who grew you and fashioned you in this manner that you are a perfect human being today?

None other than the same creator who is looking after you today. When you think about Allah in this manner, you think Allah is only for you. You think that Allah is looking after you so intricately that it is impossible that He can also look after somebody else but that is not true. In the same way as He is paying absolute attention to you and looking after you and being kind and gentle with you, He too is doing that to somebody else.

This is the verse that we left within the last episode when Zulaykha summoned Yusuf, asked him to come to her and perform an act which was outside the boundaries of morality. "Wa qaalat hayta lak"(12:23)- 'She commanded him to come.' What does Yusuf reply? Does he say no? He says "Qala ma'adh Allah"- 'he says refuge is with Allah.' He does not see anything apart from Allah, he is saying refuge is with Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala.

Now he explains to Zulaykha why he would never even think about such a sin. "Innahu Rabbi ahsana mathwaiy"(12:23)- 'this Lord of mine, He has given me such a good abode', "innahu la yuflihul dhaalimun"(12:23)- 'He will never make the oppressors victorious.'

Zulaykha, do you not know what an abode He has given me? Do you not know where I was and that He has put me in a palace? Do you not know how He looked after me? Do you not know that every morning when I wake up I am hungry, but every night when I sleep I have a full stomach? Zulaykha, do you not know that when I am unconscious and I am sleeping, I still know how to breathe? Zulaykha, do you not know that when I drink and when I eat, it goes in one pipe and when I breathe it goes in the other and I do not have to control where the air goes and where the food goes? Do you not know these large intestines and how they work?

How Imam Husayn, 'alayhi as-salaam, says,'Oh Allah I thank you for these incisors and the molar teeth that I have.' Who has thanked Allah for these things? How gentle He is with us, what a good abode He has given us, what a good life He has given us. How then is it possible for an individual to do anything to cause the displeasure of such a loving master?

"Wa laqad hammat bihi"(12:24)- 'she saw that there is no hope', he is not coming to her, so she sought after him. Then Allah says "wa hamma bihaa lawla an ra'aa burhaana Rabbih"(12:24) -'he too would have gone to her had he not seen the sign of his Lord.'

What was this sign of the Lord? What did Yusuf see that had he not seen, he too would have gone to her, he also had desires. Apparently she was a beautiful woman, nobody was there, but he controlled his desires. He saw something that did not allow him to lose control of his desires, he saw something in reality that made him control himself such that the thought did not even cross his mind. What is this 'burhaan' of Allah? What is this sign of God that he saw? We shall continue with this in our next episode.

We ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, to make us amongst those individuals who pray to Him and call upon Him as He desires. We ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, to make us among those individuals who are infatuated with Him and love Him as He desires us to love.

We ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, that in this holy month of Ramadan, our actions are little, we are not able to cleanse our hearts as much as we try, we shall fall short. We ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala to cleanse these hearts for us so that we can sit in His presence, in His proximity and gain directly from His divine knowledge.

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