10 Life Lessons from the Beautiful Story of Prophet Yusuf (A.S.)
We relate unto you (Muhammad SAW) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Quran. And before this (i.e. before the coming of Divine Inspiration to you), you were among those who knew nothing about it (the Quran). — Qur’an 12[Yusuf]:3
The noble Qur’an is a book unique in content and context. The narrative style revelation brings into play series of events from pre-creation to the end of time. The story of Prophet Yusuf AS was outstanding among the stories of prophets mentioned in the Qur’an. Yusuf was from the genealogy of Prophets. He was the son of Yakub, grandson of Is’haq and the great-grandson of Ibrahim (May Allah‘s blessing be with them all). The distinctiveness of his story is that it is the only prophetic narrative in an entire chapter. It was one of the most inspiring and lesson-filled stories of the Qur’an. Not only does the story make an interesting read, but it also teaches us vital lessons about many of the issues that we face in our daily lives.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: It was asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Who is the most honorable amongst mankind?” He said, “The most honorable of them is one who is the most pious of them.” They said, “We are not asking about this”. He said, “Then, the most honourable of men was Yusuf (Joseph), the Prophet of Allah, the son of Allah’s Prophet, who was the son of the Prophet of Allah, who was the son of the Khalil of Allah (i.e., Ibrahim)’ … (Bukhari and Muslim)
This is a compelling and highly fascinating story that encapsulates noble praise-worthy characters and a mix of human weaknesses. Allah narrates to us about Yusuf’s trouble, joy, and sorrow. We saw how jealousy, hatred, deception, and terror was unleashed against Yusuf’s personality. Yet, he conquered with patience, bravery, honesty, and reliance on Allah. This, in the long run, led him to be among the victorious. It’s essential to read up the complete chapter for a full grasp. However, here’s a sum of the lessons in bits:
- It’s good to have dreams, but it’s best to keep them to yourself:
(Remember) when Yusuf said to his father: “O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the Sun and the moon — I saw them prostrating themselves to me. He (the father) said: “O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Shaitan is to man an open enemy — Verses 4 & 5
We all have visions and great ambitions in life. However, not everyone shares the same aspiration with us, not even from our kith and kin. In modern times, we take everything to social media not knowing that this breeds jealousy, fear of missing out and the evil eye. In an authentic narration, the Prophet (PBUH) warned us: “be discrete in what you want to achieve, for everyone who is blessed is envied”. So keep your dreams between yourself and your Lord.
2. Allah gives blessing and honor to whom He Wills:
Thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of dreams (and other things) and perfect His Favour on you and on the offspring of Yaqoob (Jacob), as He perfected it on your fathers, Ibraheem (Abraham) and Ishaque (Isaac) aforetime! Verily, your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise. — Verse 6
Allah in His Supreme knowledge has the best of plans for you despite the challenge of human interceptions. So if Allah blesses your brother, don’t be mad at him. If you don’t have that blessing or favor doesn’t mean you’re neglected. Have faith and remain steadfast. Share in the joy of others and happiness will reach you too. No matter the circumstances, never work towards the downfall of others.
3. There’s good in adversity if you persevere:
And they brought his shirt stained with false blood. He said: “Nay, but your ownselves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert. — Verse 18
Sometimes, we go through hardship and trial. We almost lose hope and trust in Allah’s plan. That’s the exact time we need to seek help with patience and prayer. Prophet Yakub was patient with the fabricated news about the death of his son and Allah honored him in the long run. So trust in Allah’s plan for you and you’d express gratitude to Him in the long run.
4. Always return good and evil with good:
And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act), she closed the doors and said: “Come on, O you.” He said: “I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zalimoon (wrong and evil-doers) will never be successful.” — Verse 23
Sometimes Allah blesses us, yet we use that blessing in rebellious ways. When people are kind to you, try to pay back with kindness. Even when people mean harm to you, return their evil with good so you’d earn a reward from Allah.
5. Worldly pain is better than eternal punishment:
He said: “O my Lord! Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one (of those who commit sin and deserve blame or those who do deeds) of the ignorant.” — Verse 33
Never try to put your faith to test amidst temptation. It’s better to walk away or face severe consequences of the worldly life, than to compromise and earn the punishment of the after-life. Even a prophet was tempted by a woman and it only took the help of Allah for him not to fall. So who are you to dare?
6. If you ask, ask from Allah:
And he said to the one whom he knew to be saved: “Mention me to your lord (i.e. your king, so as to get me out of the prison).” But Shaitan (Satan) made him forget to mention it to his Lord (or Satan made ((Yoosuf (Joseph)) to forget the remembrance of his Lord (Allah) as to ask for His Help, instead of others). So (Yoosuf (Joseph)) stayed in prison a few (more) years. — Verse 42
We all go through challenges in life but when we need help who do we call upon? We sometimes think people have the ability to bring us good or harm. Whereas, everything has been predestined as mentioned in the famous hadith of Abdulah ibn Abass. So always remember to ask help from Allah first and be not heedless.
7. Never compromise your moral standards:
(The King) said (to the women): “What was your affair when you did seek to seduce Yoosuf (Joseph)?” The women said: “Allah forbid! No evil know we against him!” The wife of Al-Azeez said: “Now the truth is manifest (to all), it was I who sought to seduce him, and he is surely of the truthful.” — Verse 51
A believer doesn’t compromise his moral standard for a piece of cake. No matter how long falsehood appears, the truth will always prevail. So if you’re being tested by Allah, hang on but remember that the truth will be manifest and falsehood is bound to perish. For Allah makes not to be lost the reward of Al-Muhsinun.
8. In Allah Alone let the believers put their trust:
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.” — Verse 67
Imagine after losing a loved one and betrayal from his offspring, prophet Yakub still had an unshakable trust in Allah. We sometimes question the existence of the Creator when been tested. It’s only when we fully believe and entrust our affairs in the hands of Allah; then and until then will we find solace in any condition we find ourself
9. Patience is a virtue that’s hard to implement:
He [Ya’qub (Jacob)] said: “Nay, but your ownselves have beguiled you into something. So patience is most fitting (for me). May be Allah will bring them (back) all to me. Truly He! Only He is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” — Verse 83
Amidst all the mysteries and agonies, prophet Yakub remained patient and steadfast. In the face of trials, we should try our utmost to endure and persevere. There’s nothing that patience falls upon except that it’s beautiful. So be patient and trust that Allah has the best of plans for you.
10. Forgive and show mercy to those who offend you:
He said: “No reproach on you this day, may Allah forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of those who show mercy”. — Verse 92
Even after all that his brothers put him through, Prophet Yusuf forgave them. So as much as you can, forgive the evil people do to you. And do not look at yourself better when you do so. This will make you a more honorable person before Allah. In hope you’d earn Allah’s mercy through this righteous act.
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