Lessons from the Life of Yusuf (AS)

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Allah swt sent down The Qur’an for us as guidance. Each chapter, each verse is incredibly valuable and it is for us to reflect upon and implement it in our lives. Many problems that we face today have been discussed in The Qur’an and Allah swt has also given us a solution to each of these issues. Allah swt has revealed some of these difficulties we might face and the proper way to deal with them through the stories of the lives of the Prophets.

By reading and studying the stories of the Prophets, we can find comfort in knowing that they too had faced difficulties and adversities and we will find relief in knowing how they faced their trials successfully, with the mercy of Allah swt.

I would like to reflect upon a few of the lessons that can be learned from the story of Yusuf [AS]. There is a whole chapter dedicated to Yusuf [AS], who had to face a series of difficulties and adversities one after the other, but he remained patient, steadfast and obedient to Allah swt.

Lesson 1: Avoiding Jealousy

He (the father) said, “O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy.” {12:5}

The above verse indicates two things. First, we are told about jealousy, how it is the work of Shaytan, and how it can drive people to engage in negative behavior. Jealousy is an emotion that can create a devastating impact on people’s lives. When people experience jealousy, it can drive them to do the most absurd things against people, even loved ones.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood.”[Abu Dawood]

Secondly, we are taught how to avoid jealousy and that is simply by not announcing and sharing your bounties from Allah swt with everyone and anyone. When we publicly share too much of all the good we have going on in our lives, we forget that not everyone will react warmly and share in our happiness, that some people may wish to have what we have and may fall under the impression that our life is perfect, resulting in jealousy. Sometimes people can even have Hasad unintentionally, so it is best for us to be cautious of what we share and with whom we share it.

Lesson 2: Patience in times of adversity

They said, “O our father, indeed we went racing each other and left Joseph with our possessions, and a wolf ate him. But you would not believe us, even if we were truthful.” {12:17}

Here Yaqub [AS] is being told by his own children that Yusuf [AS] has been eaten by a wolf. In the following verse, it is revealed that Yaqub [AS] knows that they were not telling the truth. Now, Yaqub [AS] has no idea where his beloved son is, that itself is enough to give any parent grief and cause sleepless nights and what worsens the situation is that he knows that Yusuf’s [AS] own brothers are behind it.

Each and every one of us has and will face painful situations and difficulties in life, and everyone has their way of coping with pain. However, how should a Muslim deal with it? What does Allah swt tell us about that?

The following verse is a beautiful example of how one should deal with pain and difficulty in their lives:

And they brought upon his shirt false blood. [Jacob] said, “Rather, your souls have enticed you to something, so patience is most fitting. And Allah is the one sought for help against that which you describe.” {12:18}

SubhanAllah, Prophet Yaqub [AS] was so overcome with grief that he went blind! He could have reacted in many discourteous ways. He could have shown anger or could have expressed his pain by wailing and questioning his fate, but he remained true to his Lord and chose the best way to deal with it, through patience.

Lesson 3: Never lose hope in ALLAH

Yusuf [AS] was thrown into a deep dark well, in the middle of a desert. If we were to hear a story of another boy in a similar situation today, we would assume that that boy would not have survived. But Allah swt never leaves the believer, He is Al-Alim and Ar-Razzaq.

He helped Yusuf [AS] in the most amazing way:

“And there came a company of travelers; then they sent their water-drawer, and he let down his bucket. He said, “Good news! Here is a boy.” And they concealed him, [taking him] as merchandise; and Allah was knowing of what they did.”{12:19}

“And they sold him for a reduced price – a few dirhams – and they were, concerning him, of those content with little.” {12:20}

“And the one from Egypt who bought him said to his wife, “Make his residence comfortable. Perhaps he will benefit us, or we will adopt him as a son.” And thus, We established Joseph in the land that We might teach him the interpretation of events. And Allah is predominant over His affair, but most of the people do not know.” {12:21}

Not only did Yusuf [AS] make it out but Allah swt decreed it so that he was taken good care of and furthermore, he went on to become a minister of the land!

“And when Joseph reached maturity, We gave him judgment and knowledge. And thus, We reward the doers of good.” {12:22}

We should never lose our hope in Allah swt, and leave it to Him to handle our affairs. He knows what is best for us and surely, He rewards the patient and the good-doers.

Lesson 4: The importance of resisting temptation.

While this world is filled with attractions that tempt our desires, the test is to resist those temptations and remain obedient to Allah swt.

Yusuf [AS] was no exception either, he too was tested:

“And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him. She closed the doors and said, “Come, you.” He said, “[I seek] the refuge of Allah. Indeed, he is my master, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed.” {12:23}

“And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.” {12:24}

We learn from the above verses that Yusuf [AS] was tested with the temptation of women, but he resisted and sought refuge in Allah and fleed from the situation as he was fully aware of the consequences of his wrong actions and feared Allah swt.

We must strive hard to resist temptations and worldly desires, for following them will only bring us misery in the end. So when we find ourselves being tested as such, we should seek refuge, make duaa, and try to distance ourselves from whatever the temptation may be.

Lesson 5: The best way to get rid of sins.

“She said, “That is the one about whom you blamed me. And I certainly sought to seduce him, but he firmly refused; and if he will not do what I order him, he will surely be imprisoned and will be of those debased.”” {12:32}

“He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.” {12:33}

We learn from the above verse that avoiding the opportunity to sin itself is the best way of completely eradicating it from our lives. Prophet Yusuf [AS] preferred going to prison over being put in a position where perhaps he might be inclined to sin.

“So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” {12:34}

Lesson 6: Talk to Allah swt of your grief and sorrows.

“And he turned away from them and said, “Oh, my sorrow over Joseph,” and his eyes became white from grief, for he was [of that] a suppressor.” {12:84}

We learn here that Yaqub [AS] suppressed his sorrow and kept his anger locked up inside of him, as a result of which he became blind.

Allah swt does not ask us to suppress our emotions and feelings. Keeping our feelings bottled up inside is not encouraged at all.

But does that mean that we should take out all our anger and frustration on our loved ones?

Is this what Yaqub [AS] did? Let’s see:

“He said, “I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know.”{12:86}

Yaqub [AS] complained of his sorrows and grief to AS-SAMEE’, The All-Hearing. When we call upon our Lord, He listens and He answers, and what is required from us till then is beautiful patience.

Lesson 7: Forgiveness.

Later in the story, Yusuf [AS] is approached by his brothers,

“They said, “Are you indeed Joseph?” He said “I am Joseph, and this is my brother. Allah has certainly favored us. Indeed, he who fears Allah and is patient, then indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.” {12:90}

“He [Yusuf] said, “No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you, and He is the most merciful of the merciful.” {12:92}

SubhanAllah, even after all the trouble his brothers caused him, Yusuf [AS] did not hold a grudge or get angry; instead, he forgave his brothers and asked Allah swt to forgive them as well.

This should be our attitude as well, as holding grudges only harms our peace of mind and heart and only causes more pain and anger. Thus we should learn to forgive and forget. True, it is easier said than done but if we seek Allah’s reward, He will surely not let us down.

These were just a few of the uncountable lessons we can learn from Yusuf’s[AS] life. I would recommend everyone to study and seek the gems of knowledge from this story.

May Allah swt guide us and keep us on the right path and may He never leave us and forgive us for all of our sins and make us the best possible Muslims. Aameen.


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