Hazrat Yusuf (A.S)
Hazrat Yusuf had eleven brothers; ten were older than him, and one was younger. He was a very good and handsome boy, and his father Hazrat Yaqub loved him very much. Because of this, Hazrat Yusuf's brothers were all very jealous of him and their intentions were cruel.
One morning Hazrat Yusuf woke up and said to his father, "Oh father! I dreamt eleven stars, the sun and the moon were prostrating before me." Hazrat Yaqub replied, "Oh son, do not tell your dream to your brothers lest they will play a trick on you. Surely, Shaitan is an open enemy of humans. Thus, Allah has chosen you."
However, Hazrat Yusuf revealed his dream to his brothers. At that time, Hazrat Yusuf was 17 years old. Raheel, mother of Hazrat Yusuf and his brother Binyameen, had passed away. Therefore, Hazrat Yaqub cherished these two more than his other sons.
The brothers' trick
One day, Hazrat Yusuf's brothers asked their father to allow them to take Hazrat Yusuf along with them to the desert so that he could also enjoy the beautiful sight of the desert. Hazrat Yaqub remarked, "Separation from Yusuf will involve me in grief. I fear that you will neglect him and wild animals may devour him." The brothers replied, "Have faith in our valour. We will never allow such a thing to happen."
The next day, Hazrat Yusuf and his brothers went to the desert. The brothers then showed their true evil colours, and removed his clothes and threw him in a well near Kin'aan. The wailing and imploring of Hazrat Yusuf had no effect on his stonehearted brothers and they fled from there.
After dumping Hazrat Yusuf in the well, his brothers took his bloodstained clothes to their father and said, "O father! We regret that what you feared actually happened. A wolf took away Yusuf while we were hunting."
Hazrat Yaqub suspected that something was amiss, and said, "At last you have given in to your jealousy, and have harmed Yusuf. But remember, that I will act with patience and forbearance and will seek help from Allah."
Hazrat Yusuf was crying and wailing in the well and was asking Allah for help. A caravan happened to pass by and its people took Hazrat Yusuf along with them. Thereafter, they sold Hazrat Yusuf to the Ruler of Egypt named Totiqaar. He was the treasurer of the Egyptian king.
Hazrat Yusuf goes to prison
Hazrat Yusuf worked hard with the other slaves in the house of the Ruler, and gradually acquired excellence over other slaves. One day, the Aziz told his wife Zulaikha, "This young man of Kin'aan is very hardworking, so take care of him and ensure that he leads a comfortable life. I am sure that he will be of immense benefit to us in future. We will adopt him as our son."
The incident following this is recorded in great detail in the books of history. To make a long story short, Zulaikha was unable to endure the beauty of Hazrat Yusuf, for he was greatly handsome, and she was infatuated with him.
Hazrat Yusuf turned down Zulaikha's advances but she did not take to being rejected so easily. So, she levelled false accusations against Hazrat Yusuf and asked her husband to put him in prison and put him through painful punishment.
But, a child named Khaleekha, who was only four months old and was Zulaikha's cousin testified while she was lying in the cradle. She said that if Hazrat Yusuf's shirt was torn from the front, then Zulaikha was true in her allegation. But if it was torn from behind, then Zulaikha was lying and Hazrat Yusuf was truthful. When the Ruler saw that the shirt was torn from the back, he realised that Hazrat Yusuf was innocent and his wife was the culprit. He told Zulaikha, "It is your fraud, deceit and craftiness, therefore seek forgiveness for your sin."
After this incident, the ladies of Egypt taunted Zulaikha, and as expected the news spread every where that she had fallen in love with her slave. When the news reached Zulaikha, she was aggrieved and started thinking of a way to check the rumours. One day, she invited all the ladies and placed a fruit and a knife in front of each one of them. Thereafter, she told them to cut the fruit and eat it. Then Hazrat Yusuf was made to enter the room. The women, as ordered, started cutting the fruit but they were captivated with Hazrat Yusuf's beauty and cut off their fingers instead of the fruits, and didn't even feel the pain. Seeing this, Zulaikha smiled and said, "You judged me. This is the same Yusuf - one brief look at him has bewitched you to such an extent that you have cut your fingers."
After this, Zulaikha still persisted in her demands with Hazrat Yusuf and warned, "If he does not obey me then he will surely be imprisoned and disgraced." Hearing this, Hazrat Yusuf raised his hands and requested Allah, "O h my Lord! I would prefer prison rather than fulfilling this woman's demand." Allah accepted Hazrat Yusuf's supplication and he was imprisoned.
From prison to royalty
Although the Aziz was aware of Hazrat Yusuf's innocence, he was forced to imprison him on his wife's insistence. She argued with the Aziz, "Yusuf has defamed me amongst the women of Egypt and has disgraced and dishonoured you. If you wish to regain that respect and esteem, you must imprison Yusuf."
Then on the same day, the royal cook, Majilah, and the cup-bearer, Yunan, of the Egyptian king were also detained in the same cell. They were imprisoned on the charge of conspiring to poison the King.
The next night, Yunan told Hazrat Yusuf, "I dreamt that I was preparing grape juice for the King." The cook told him, "I have also dreamt that I am carrying a loaf of bread on my head and the birds are eating it. Oh Yusuf! We have found that you are virtuous and magnanimous. Inform us of the interpretation of our dreams." Hazrat Yusuf realized that both were inclined towards him and would lend him their ears most willingly. Taking advantage of this, he began inviting them towards Allah.
He said, "I will interpret your dreams before the food arrives. God has favoured me with the interpretation of dreams. I am very disturbed that these people do not believe in Allah and they deny the Day of Judgement. I follow my ancestors Hazrat Ibrahim, Hazrat Is'haaq and Hazrat Yaqub. It is not appropriate for us to associate anyone with Allah.
O my friends! You yourself reflect on whether these lifeless idols are worthy of being worshipped or Allah, the One? The gods you worship are your own creation. They have no reality."
After exhorting them towards Allah's worship, he interpreted their dreams in the following manner. The one who had dreamt of grape juice would be released, and would perform the task of serving drinks to his master. And the one who had dreamt of the loaves of bread would be hanged.
Then Hazrat Yusuf told Yunan, who was to be released, "Give the news of my innocence to the King, so that even I maybe released." Yunan was released just as Hazrat Yusuf had prophesied. However, Yunan forgot about interceding on behalf of Yusuf with the King, and so Hazrat Yusuf was confined to prison for seven years.
One morning, the king of Egypt woke up in a very disturbed frame of mind. He called his ministers and said, "I have seen a dream. I saw seven healthy cows coming out of the river and grazing in the grasslands. Then, I saw seven weak and feeble cows coming out of the river and while grazing they ate the seven healthy cows. Then I saw seven fields of fresh wheat and then I saw seven dry wheat fields. I cannot comprehend the interpretation of this dream. Do you know its interpretation?'
Those present expressed their inability and helplessness to help the king with the interpretation of his strange dream.
On hearing about the dream, the king's cook remembered Hazrat Yusuf. He immediately presented himself in the presence of the king and said, "Sir! There is a youth in your prison who can interpret dreams". The king allowed the cook to visit Hazrat Yusuf inside the prison. The cook narrated the king's dream to Hazrat Yusuf.
Hazrat Yusuf was the Prophet of Allah. Therefore, he did not reprimand the cook for his forgetfulness to intercede for him with the king. Instead, he interpreted the king's dream and suggested its solution.
He said, "The kingdom of Egypt will remain prosperous for seven years. Food grains will be in abundance. But immediately after that, for the next seven years there will be a famine. The people will face great difficulties and there will be shortage of food grains."
Then Hazrat Yusuf advanced a solution for the problem. He advised, "In the first seven years, do a lot of cultivation and utilise the grains only as per the needs of the people, and store the rest. Then, in the period of famine, use the food grains from the storehouse."
The cook went to the king immediately and narrated the entire episode. The king was satisfied with the interpretation and ordered that Hazrat Yusuf should be released immediately and brought in his presence, so that his practical solutions, at the time of facing future difficulties and problems, may prove beneficial to the country.
But Hazrat Yusuf did not want freedom until the king proved him innocent. The king called the Egyptian women and heard the incident of the cutting of fingers. The women finally conceded the fact that Hazrat Yusuf was innocent.
Ultimately, Zulaikha also confessed the same. In this manner, Hazrat Yusuf was freed from the prison.
The king spoke to Hazrat Yusuf and when he was satisfied, he told him to choose whatever position he wished in the kingdom. Hazrat Yusuf requested that he should be appointed the State Treasurer as he was a guardian and was also aware of its accounting. In this manner, Hazrat Yusuf became the guardian of the State Treasury.
Hazrat Yusuf toured various parts of Egypt and its suburbs to collect information about economic conditions and problems. He provided financial support to the farmers, so that there could be a good harvest. The money advanced by Hazrat Yusuf was employed as per the farmers' needs. This made Hazrat Yusuf very famous throughout the kingdom. Everyone admitted that the kingdom had a very able and intelligent minister.
The brothers return
After seven years, the river Nile's level started declining. The signs of famine became evident, and gradually it spread throughout the kingdom. People started coming to Hazrat Yusuf asking for food grains. Hazrat Yusuf distributed the food grains according to the needs of the people. Even the brothers of Hazrat Yusuf approached him for buying food. When his brothers came to him for food grains, Hazrat Yusuf recognised them but they did not recognise him. Among the brothers, his brother Binyameen (Benjamin) was not there, as he was kept back by his father Hazrat Yaqub. Binyameen was the real brother of Hazrat Yusuf.
Hazrat Yusuf was very happy to see his brothers, but he noticed that his brother Binyameen was missing. Hazrat Yusuf was very hospitable and enquired with them about their condition and whereabouts. They said that they were the sons of Hazrat Yaqub (a.s.). They said that out of twelve brothers, one brother was with their father to look after him, while one of their brothers (who was in fact Hazrat Yusuf himself) was lost many years ago. He was very pleased to learn about his father and brother.
Hazrat Yusuf gave them foodgrains and also put the money paid by them in their luggage so that they soon return for more food. When they were about to leave, Hazrat Yusuf told them, "Next time you come bring your brother, because I want to be sure that whatever you have said is correct".
The brothers of Hazrat Yusuf reached Kin'aan and praised the Egyptian Nobleman (Hazrat Yusuf) in front of their father, Hazrat Yaqub. They said this Nobleman had ordered to see their brother next time. On hearing this, Hazrat Yaqub said, "Never will I send him along with you. Do you want to treat him in the same manner as you did with Yusuf? Leave me alone."
When the brothers opened the luggage, they found their money in it. They became happy and told Hazrat Yaqub, "How generous is the Nobleman of Egypt! He secretly placed our money in our luggage. Now dispell the fear from your heart and allow us to take Binyameen along with us. We will protect him and bring him back safely."
When Hazrat Yaqub saw that his children were pleading with him so much, and as they had also promised to take good care of their brother, he gave them permission. Hazrat Yaqub warned his sons not to enter Egypt together from a single gate but to enter from different gates, lest the people might think that they have entered Egypt with the intention of killing and looting.
The brothers of Hazrat Yusuf reached Egypt and Hazrat Yusuf invited them for meals and made each of them sit in pairs on the table. Binyameen was left alone without any partner and started crying profusely and said, 'If my brother Yusuf had been present, I would not have been lonely.' When Hazrat Yusuf heard this, he made him sit along with himself.
At night, Hazrat Yusuf provided rooms for two brothers each and told Binyameen to consider him as his brother Yusuf. On hearing this, Benyameen's eyes were filled with tears. He said, 'Where can one find a brother like you? Alas! You are not from the progeny of Yaqub and the womb of Raheel.' Now Hazrat Yusuf could not control his tears, and he embraced his brother and revealed, "I am your brother Yusuf. My brothers oppressed me, but Allah protected me with His grace and nobility. Do not disclose this matter to your brothers just yet.'
Hazrat Yusuf (a.s.) in order to retain Binyameen with himself, implicated him in a false theft by putting a precious thing in his baggage and in this manner prevented him from returning with his brothers to Kin'aan. His brothers helplessly returned to their father. Hazrat Yaqub was very grieved and sorrowful. But he remained patient and asked his sons to return to Egypt and request the King to release Binyameen. He asked his sons not to despair of Allah's mercy.
For the third time, the brothers came to Egypt and said, "Oh Chief! Distress has afflicted us and our family and we have come to you with scanty money."
Hazrat Yusuf listened to their complaint and finally revealed his identity to them. Finally, it was clear to the brothers that he was Yusuf, their brother, who they had dumped in the well. Finally, Hazrat Yusuf and his father were united after years of separation.