Allah concludes in Surah Yusuf by reminding us once again that there are many lessons in Surah Yusuf. It is as if He is telling us: One reading isn’t enough! Read this Surah, and then read it again and again, and every time you read, you shall find beneficial lessons and morals. So let us embark on another journey of extracting its lessons. Allah tells us that in their stories, was ‘…a lesson for the people of reason…’ Therefore, let’s take the time to reflect on the ibrah, the hidden wisdom, and other benefits, this surah offers. Below are twenty such lessons.
- The miracle of the language and eloquence of the Qur’an
This surah shows us the miracle of the Qur’an: its style, recitation, and the intricately interwoven meanings. Everything about the language of the Qur’an is miraculous, lessons from surah Yusuf and Surah Yusuf highlights this most profoundly. We are told the story in riveting detail, but without the superfluous events. Contrast this story with its counterparts in other Scriptures and astound yourself at the eloquence of the Qur’anic version.
- The stories of the Qur’an are the best
Allah said, “We relate to you ‘O Prophet’ the best of stories…” The Qur’anic stories are the best, and they deserve a close study. We should read them and narrate them to our children, and contemplate deeply on their lessons. Although this tafsir is about Surah Yusuf, let this be a gateway to exploring other stories of the Qur’an as they all offer amazing insight.
- When Allah wants to bless someone, He blesses him with knowledge
Allah tells us in this surah that He had blessed the family of Ishaq with knowledge, wisdom, and prophethood. The ultimate blessings from Allah are faith and knowledge. The Prophet f said, ‘If Allah intends good for someone, He gives to him the understanding of the religion.’
- The intuition of the believer is true
Of the wisdom of this surah is that it shows us that the believer’s firasah or intuition is real. Firasah comes from being close to Allah, and it keeps the believer rightly guided. Ya’qub’s firasah warned him that something was wrong concerning Yusuf. The closer one draws to Allah, the more accurate their intuition will be. Although it carries no legal weight, the intuition can be used in business or social dealings and making decisions in one’s life. Firasah is one of the fruits of piety that Allah bestows upon the righteous.
- True dreams and their interpretation are a gift from Allah
Dreams are a constant motif of Surah Yusuf, beginning with Yusuf’s dream as a child, then the dreams of the prisoners, and finally, that of the King. True dreams and their interpretation are blessings from Allah, which He bestows upon some of His most righteous servants.
- The inner beauty of decency and morality is more attractive than outer beauty
The events of the story of Yusuf show us that inner beauty is the result of one’s character. It comes from good manners, chastity, and living a good and wholesome life. No matter how people live their lives, from their fitrah or innate nature, they can tell right from wrong. A chaste and virtuous life is a reflection of inner beauty. After Yusuf refused the sexual advances of the wife of Al-Aziz, she invited her friends to see him. They attested to his outer beauty, but it was his inner beauty, exemplified by his refusal, which made him even more attractive; they thought he was a noble angel. It is human nature to admire an honourable character. Inner beauty increases over time, while outer beauty fades away.
- Righteousness leads to success in this life and the next
Yusuf’s good character was attested to by all those who knew him: his family, the wife of Al-Aziz, the prisoners, the witnesses, and finally, even the King himself. People testified to the nobility of his character, and the King not only exonerated him of false allegations but also appointed Yusuf finance minister of Egypt. But Yusuf’s gaze was set on the Hereafter, and he prayed to Allah to “Allow me to die as one who submits and join me with the righteous.”
- The importance of being fair and just
This surah teaches us the importance of being fair, just, and equitable with our children, as Ya‘qub was with his. It also tells us that fairness and love are different. A Muslim is required to treat his children fairly, but it is not required of him to love them equally, as he has no control over love. While Ya’qub treated all his children justly, he loved Yusuf and Binyamin more, because of which his other sons became jealous and conspired to get rid of Yusuf.
- Appreciate the blessings of Allah and accept what you don’t have
Surah Yusuf teaches us to appreciate Allah’s blessings, and be content with what He, out of His wisdom, did not grant us. Sometimes, a thing we covet may turn out to be a bane if it leads us away from the remembrance of Allah. There is good both in what Allah gives us and what He withholds from us because He alone knows what is best Yusuf (12: 101). for His creation. Imagine if we had even a fraction of the beauty of Yusuf. Would we have used it honourably?
- Don’t flaunt your blessings
Allah does not love the boastful. A wise and intelligent believer does not flaunt his blessings because it can displease the bestower of those blessings and may cause jealousy in the hearts of others. When Ya’qub learned about Yusuf’s dream and understood its positive implications, he immediately told him not to share it with the brothers lest they hatched a plot out of jealousy.
- The believer is always cautious
A believer should act cautiously and carefully. When the brothers asked Ya’qub’s permission to take Binyamin, he was reluctant based on his bad experience with their similar request concerning Yusuf. Our Prophet said, ‘The believer is not stung twice from the same hole.’ The believer should always think through the ramifications of their actions carefully before choosing the course of action.
- Beautiful patience means not complaining to the people
This surah teaches us that patience has different kinds and levels. There is patience during a calamity, in restraining oneself from committing sins, and in persevering in acts worship. The best kind of patience is sabrun jamil: beautiful patience. Allah praised Ya’qub for observing sabrun jamil, which is that one turns to Allah during trials, complaining only to Him about the plight and seeking only His sympathy, and not of the people. The pinnacle of faith is to bear a calamity with patience and fortitude: this is sabrun jamil.
- A good strategy is a part of good faith
This surah displays the wisdom of planning. The believer always thinks ten steps ahead. Yusuf had the plan to put the cup in the sack of his brother, Binyamin, so that he could keep him in Egypt. When he started searching the caravan, he began with the older brothers so as not to draw attention to his plan. What it shows us is that the believer is smart, has a good plan, and employs a brilliant strategy.
- Show respect to your parents in every way possible
Our religion tells us to treat our parents with honour and respect. The actions of Yusuf demonstrated this. When he welcomed his parents as they arrived in Egypt, he went to the outskirts of the city to greet them, had them sit on the throne, and treated lavishly. For a Muslim, no human being deserves more veneration than his parents.
- Pious households produce pious children
Allah mentioned at the beginning of the surah that He had completed His favours upon, “…you and the descendants of Ya’qub, ‘just’ as He once perfected it upon your forefathers, Ibrahim and Ishaq.”113 These favours sprang from the status Allah had granted the Prophet Ibrahim. In Surah al-Kahf, Allah told us that He had saved the treasure of two orphans Yusuf (12:6). because their deceased father was a righteous man. The important take away is that if we want our children to be righteous, we have to embody that quality ourselves first.
- The believers are concerned about their offspring
The believer should always make it a priority to protect their family and children at both the physical and spiritual levels. When Yusuf told his dream to his father, Ya’qub immediately wanted to protect him. He didn’t boast, ‘What a proud father you have made me,’ instead, he sought to protect him from potential harm. He wanted the best for Yusuf in Din and Dunya.
- Protect your faith and chastity in your youth, and Allah will protect you in your old age
We learn from Surah Yusuf that if we try to protect our faith and chastity in our youth, Allah will protect us from corruption in later life. A young man or woman who has a strong relationship with Allah will rarely lose faith in older age. Yusuf had taqwa of Allah in his youth, and Allah preserved it for him in maturity. He resisted temptation during the most vulnerable period of his life–young adulthood–and Allah honored him in later life. Those who say that they will become pious only when they’re old, rarely do.
- Be on guard against the evils of ego
The story of this surah displayed the perils of succumbing to one’s ego. Our ego can call us to evil, as the actions of the brothers showed. The wife of Al-Aziz had suffered from ego, and it harmed her badly. She thought that as a beautiful woman from the elite of Egyptian society, she could coerce a handsome slave to commit an immoral act with her. She was enraged when he refused and avenged him by false accusation and imprisonment. The believers should be more concerned about how Allah views them, rather than the people.
- Jealousy is destructive
A critical lesson from Surah Yusuf is that jealousy is one of the most destructive emotions known to humans. It makes an otherwise rational person behave irrationally. In a fit of jealousy, people can do things they never imagined they could. In this story, the brothers of Yusuf, overcome by acute jealously, tried to do the unthinkable: kill their little brother. Our Prophet f warned us, ‘Beware of envy, for it devours good deeds just as fire devours wood or grass.’ That is why we should seek refuge in Allah from jealousy and try to suppress it as soon as it occurs in our hearts.
- Dangers of free mixing
Of the lessons we learn from this surah one is the dangers of interacting with the opposite gender, especially when it can lead to temptation. Yusuf and the wife of Al-Aziz were alone together for long periods, and this fuelled her lust. The Prophet said, ‘Whoever has faith in Allah and the Last Day, let him not be alone with an unrelated woman without her guardian. Verily, the third of them
Except is from the chapter '50 Lessons From Surah Yusuf', you can read the full chapter in 'Lessons From Surah Yusuf'
9781847741370 - Yasir Qadhi