Surah Yusuf Teaches Fatherhood

2 surah yusuf teaches fatherhood

Prophet Yusuf (as) was approximately seven years old when he shared with his father a dream he saw. The Quran narrates it: “(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.’” (Yusuf 12:4) The above Ayah indicates the trust and rapport between father and son. Prophet Yusuf (as) confides in his father.

The Quran has beautifully described the family structure using a parable. The sun has been personified as a father. The moon is like a mother. And the eleven stars are like their children.

If we consider their roles and relationship with each other, we can understand that the sun (father) is the source of light. The moon (mother) draws its strength from the sun. Hence, she stays spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. The father defines the success of the family.

“He (the father) said: ‘O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they should arrange a plot against you. Verily Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!’” (Yusuf 12:5) Prophet Yaqoob (as) advises his son Yusuf (as) not to reveal his dream to his siblings. He is aware of their inherently jealous nature. As a father, he understands that all kids are not alike. They are likely to err. If a prophet’s sons can make mistakes, how can we expect ours not to?

After informing his son about sibling rivalry, the father also warns him about the role of Shaitan, which is to sow seeds of enmity and break up families.

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Pearls of Peace: Surah Yusuf

freshwater-clam-with-natural-freshwater-pearlsWipe out the bad with good!

When a believer commits a sin, he is filled up with remorse and guilt. This is nothing but a sign of Iman. It is the mercy of Allah (swt) that He has informed us beforehand about the major and the minor sins. However, this does not give one a license to continue their minor sins. If one does not avoid minor sins, then one day they will fall for the major ones. May Allah (swt) protect us all. Ameen. If a person commits a minor sin, the Prophet (sa) advised us to follow it up with a good deed. This is done in order to wipe out the effects of the bad deed.

In Surah Hud it appears, “And perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night (i.e. the five compulsory Salat (prayers)). Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice).” (Hud 11:114) Many people appear to be religious, but they have some hidden bad habits such as pornography.

How can one get rid of addictive bad habits?

First, exercise your willpower. Go cold turkey. But if a person finds himself weak, he keeps reverting to the sin after repentance, and then such a person should increase his good deeds. Add a lot of voluntary prayers, recitation and Dhikr in your routine; so much so that you have no time left for Laghw (non-beneficial) matters.

Stories of the past – a solace!

Allah (swt) narrates the stories of past nations in the Quran to enlighten us about them and to give us comfort and solace; like there were people before you who endured much intense challenges. Thus, if they could persevere and become victorious, you would too; if you rely on Allah (swt) and follow His commands.

“And all that We relate to you (O Muhammad (sa)) of the news of the Messengers is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby. And in this (chapter of the Quran) has come to you the truth, as well as an admonition and a reminder for the believers.” (Hud 11:120)

A similar verse appears in Surah Yusuf, “Indeed in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding.” (Yusuf 12:111) A person can learn a lesson through the hard way, by not paying heed to advice; or they can learn through the easy way, by reading about the lives of other people, and being cautious of what could destroy them.

The story of Yusuf (as)

This story is bound to leave your teary-eyed. Allah (swt) says, “We relate unto you (Muhammad (sa)) 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).” (Yusuf 12:3)

In Prophet Yusuf’s (as) story, we learn about the evils of jealousy; brothers harming their own brother out of jealousy. A jealous person cannot live in peace. He destroys his own peace and that of others. We should remember that Allah (swt) has decided who would get what.

How to get rid of jealousy?

Instead of being jealous of what someone has, we should rather make Dua to Allah (swt) to bless us with the same or a better blessing. Another cure for jealousy is that, instead of looking at what people have been gifted, we should see what Allah (swt) has given us. Perhaps, there is something that we have and they don’t. For example, a sister might be married; but the person to whom she is married doesn’t respect her or provide her any emotional support. On the other hand is a sister, who is not married yet; but her parents are kind and loving. Let’s consider another example, a person complains about his wife being out of shape. There’s another man whose wife is in shape, but too difficult to get along. Each of them has something to be grateful for. Jealousy blinds us. When evil thoughts come to your mind, seek the refuge with Allah (swt) from the cursed Shaytan.

Prophet Yusuf (as) saw a dream that eleven stars, and the sun and the moon are prostrating him. When he narrated this dream to his father, his father warned him, “He (the father) said: “O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Verily! Shaytan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!” (Yusuf 12:5)

An important advice

Here is an important advice for us. Do not share everything with others; especially your future plans, because Shaytan uses your loved ones as a tool to harm you. Do not talk about it, unless you have achieved your task completely. May Allah (swt) protect us from jealousy and causing harm to others. Ameen.

One of the names of Allah (swt) is Ash-Shakoor. He is the Most Appreciative of His servants’ deeds. When sin becomes accessible to a person and that person chooses to stay away from it for the sake of Allah (swt), Allah (swt) elevates such a person in status. We see this in the story of Prophet Yusuf (as). A beautiful, wealthy woman tried to seduce him in the privacy of her house. There was nothing that could stop them besides the fear of Allah (swt). Yusuf (as) replied, 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 Zalimun (wrong and evil-doers) will never be successful.” (Yusuf 12:23) What a response!

Pearls of Peace – Extracts from Surahs Yunus and Hud

pearlsSurah Yunus – named after prophet Yunus (as)

Before we begin the Surah, let’s read why is it important to study the Quran. Allah (swt) says, “O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (i.e. the Qur’an, ordering all that is good and forbidding all that is evil), and a healing for that (disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences, etc.) in your breasts, – a guidance and a mercy (explaining lawful and unlawful things, etc.) for the believers.” (Yunus 10:57) Quran is Shifa (cure) for diseased hearts, a guidance and mercy for the believers. This is the power of the Word of Allah (swt). It cleanses one from spiritual ailments. 

The touch of affliction

Allah (swt) tests us so that we can turn to Him. It so happens that once the calamity is gone, we revert to our old ways. The One, Who brought us relief, is all capable of snatching our peace away and much more than that.

Why play with Allah (swt)?

“And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying down on his side, or sitting or standing. But when We have removed his harm from him, he passes on his way as if he had never invoked Us for a harm that touched him! Thus it seems fair to the Musrifun that which they used to do.” (Yunus 10:12)

Wouldn’t you want to become one of the friends of Allah (swt)? Who wouldn’t? We would run for the opportunity. Allah (swt) says, “No doubt! Verily, the Auliya of Allah (i.e. those who believe in the Oneness of Allah and fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which he has forbidden), and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)), no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve , Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and used to fear Allah much (by abstaining from evil deeds and sins and by doing righteous deeds).For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world (i.e. righteous dream seen by the person himself or shown to others), and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success.” (Yunus 10:62-64)

How to become Allah’s (swt) friend?

To become a friend of Allah (swt) one needs to be a believer and have Taqwa (consciousness of Allah (swt)). One is a believer if he believes in Allah (swt), associates no partners with Him, and treads on the path of Muhammad (sa). Taqwa can be attained by honouring Allah’s (swt) commands and staying away from prohibitions.

Allah (swt) takes care of His friends; as we see in the stories of the Prophets (as). When the messengers called people to Allah (swt), and they refused to follow; there came a time when the messengers were compelled to invoke Allah’s (swt) wrath against the transgressors.

“And Moosa (Moses) said: Our Lord! You have indeed bestowed on Firaun (Pharaoh) and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of this world, our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your Path. Our Lord! Destroy their wealth, and harden their hearts, so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.” (Yunus 10:88)

What did Allah (swt) say in reply? He said, “Allah said: “Verily, the invocation of you both is accepted.” (Yunus 10:89)

Sometimes, we lack peace in our life because we harmed someone and perhaps, he invoked Allah (swt) against us. Abstain from mocking, hurting, or causing discomfort to anyone. Perhaps, they are friends of Allah (swt).

Surah Hud – named after prophet Hud (as) (the messenger sent to the people of ‘Ad)

People of ‘Ad were huge and dwelled in carved mountains. This Surah contains lessons for those, who shy away from working in the path of Allah (swt). They are worried about their sustenance and the worldly competition that distracts them. Shoo those Satanic whisperings away because Allah (swt) has promised sustenance. He says, “And no (moving) living creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus, grave, etc.). All is in a Clear Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz – the Book of Decrees with Allah).” (Hud 11:6) If He provides for an ant and a bird, would He not provide us? However, it does not mean to sit at home and do nothing. One has to work for a living, but should not make it the sole purpose of his lives. Work sincerely and ask Allah (swt) to open up avenues for you. Do not depend on your intellect alone. Depend on Allah (swt) instead.

Arrogance leads to destruction

Don’t be arrogant because arrogance was the cause of destruction of previous nations. Allah (swt) says, “They said: O Nuh (Noah)! You have disputed with us and much have you prolonged the dispute with us, now bring upon us what you threaten us with, if you are of the truthful.” (Hud 11:32) They were asking the Prophet of Allah (swt) to bring punishment upon them. And it was answered! Floods swallowed them up. Why invite trouble? Do not say, “Let me see what happens if I divert.” Stay on the straight path.

When one corrects someone, they are attacked by all kinds of statements as a rebuttal. Someone might say, “Who do you think you are?” Shuayb (as) faced a similar situation.“They said: O Shuayb! We do not understand much of what you say, and we see you a weak (man, it is said that he was a blind man) among us. Were it not for your family, we should certainly have stoned you and you are not powerful against us.” (Hud 11:91) What kind of a statement is that? May Allah (swt) protect us from arrogance. Ameen.

What is the cure to arrogance?

Do Shukr and acknowledge the supremacy of Allah (swt). Because whatever we have today is from Him. Let’s not become such people against whom others invoke Allah (swt). Allah (swt) gives us time to change our ways. But when we remain adamant; that is when His wrath descends. May He save us from destruction. Ameen.

Walk the talk

Having said that we should also not become of those who command others to do good and themselves do the entirely opposite. How will anyone listen to us when we don’t walk the talk? The Messengers were the first ones to act out a command. They submitted to Allah (swt) before reaching out to people. Shuayb (as) said, “And He said: “O my people! Tell me; if I have a clear evidence from my Lord, and He has given me a good sustenance from Himself (shall I corrupt it by mixing it with the unlawfully earned money). I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you. I only desire reform so far as I am able, to the best of my power. And my guidance cannot come except from Allah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent.” (Hud 11:88)

People who live disciplined lives and have good conduct, do not even need to give long lectures, shout and scream at people to get some work done. People see them and are motivated to follow.

May Allah (swt) bridge the gap between our speech and our actions and allow us to live conscious lives. Ameen.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

Dealing with Grief and Sadness in the Light of Surah Yusuf


Like most stories from the Quran, there are some important life lessons that stem from Surah Yusuf. This entire Surah is dedicated to a story in a chronological order. Most importantly, it teaches us how to deal with sadness, anguish, and difficult situations in life. Allah (swt) essentially describes two characters who suffer and deal with a lot of grief in their lives: Prophet Yaqoob (as) and his son, Prophet Yusuf (as).

We can apply these examples to our own difficulties. This is similar to how Prophet Muhammad (sa) received this Surah at a time when he was facing a tough time in life: during the Year of Grief, his beloved wife Khadijah (rtaf) and his supportive uncle, Abu Talib, passed away. He was signalled to seek counsel through Surah Yusuf, so surely we can do the same.

We learn from this Surah about Yaqoob’s (as) excessive love for his son, Yusuf (sa) and also that his brothers are so jealous of their father’s attachment to Yusuf (as) that they plot to get rid of him.

We also discover that Yusuf (as) tells his father of a dream he saw. Yaqoob (as) interprets the dream and realizes that his son will become a prophet. He warns Yusuf (as) not to mention the dream to his brothers because he is worried for him. Similarly, many years later, Yaqoob (as) fears for his son Bin Yamin when he is left behind in Egypt. Generally, Yaqoob (as), by nature, is concerned about his children and their well-being. He is known to give sound practical advice to his children throughout the narrative. However, we learn that his advice or plans do not necessarily turn out the way he wishes, because Allah (swt) has greater outcomes planned.

Yaqoob (as) advises his son not to share this dream with his brothers because they might plan against him. Even though Yusuf’s (as) brothers did not learn about his dream, they went ahead and schemed against him anyway. In this regard, we have to realize that there are always two plans at work: one is the plan a human maps out, and then there is a greater plan, of the greatest of planners, Allah (swt). Sometimes our plans and hopes for the future coincide with Allah’s (swt) decisions, but at times, they don’t.

Assume you’ve just been hired and are on your way to purchase a new home. Everything seems to be working out just fine. Suddenly, the employers reconsider their decision and the seller of the house changes his mind. You are now hit by an unexpected turn in life; this is not the way you had it planned! This is not what you had wanted! What you experience next is sadness, grief, and depression. After this phase, we might experience a state of disbelief driven by extreme sadness. We might question our destiny, asking why Allah (swt) did this to us.

After hearing about Yusuf’s (as) dream, Yaqoob (as) harbours high hopes for him. He ends the congratulatory response to his son by saying: “…Verily, your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Yusuf 12:6) Note the two names of Allah (swt) mentioned in this Surah: Aleem and Hakeem. Hakeem means He possesses all the wisdom, and Aleem pertains to Allah’s (swt) knowledge. These are words of hope which Yaqoob (as) utters, because he trusts the knowledge and wisdom of Allah (swt). Basically, what he’s telling his son is that he has high hopes for him but only Allah (swt) knows what is really going to happen.

These attributes of Allah (swt) are mentioned a second time when another son of Yaqoob (as), Bin Yamin, is left behind in Egypt. Saddened by the news, Yaqoob (as) once more mentions that “…Truly He! Only He is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Yusuf 12:83) By saying that Allah (swt) is All-Knowledgeable, you have already affirmed that Allah (swt) knows what you’re going through. Thus, the second time Yaqoob (as) mentions these words, he says them as words of trust.

They are mentioned a third time by Yusuf (as) towards the end of the story when he finally reunites with his family in Egypt. He acknowledges Allah’s (swt) attributes by saying: “…Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will. Truly He! Only He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” (Yusuf 12:100) He never forgot the words he heard as a child. Yusuf (as) realized that he went through many problems in his life because Allah (swt) was subtly planning something great for him.

Anyone else in Yusuf’s (as) place would have lost all hope, but he was steadfast in his faith in Allah (swt). Imagine what he went through! As a child, he was hated by his brothers, kidnapped, and sold away as a slave in a house where he was treated well at first, but eventually had to deal with a psychotic woman, who caused him to be imprisoned.

He went through a lot of problems! However, when he looks back at his life he says: “…He was indeed good to me…” (Yusuf 12:100) He adds another phrase: “…Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will…” (Yusuf 12:100)

Another attribute specified in the Surah is Allah’s (swt) dominance over matters. At first, we cannot understand why Allah (swt) is making Yusuf (as) go through all this trouble. But soon it all makes sense. In the Quran, Allah (swt) mentions that He “…established Yusuf (Joseph) in the land…” (Yusuf 12:21). This verse implies that all these events are occurring for Yusuf’s (as) benefit, not against him. Allah (swt) further clarifies that this is happening to Yusuf (as) so that “…We might teach him the interpretation of events…” (Yusuf 12:21) It now makes sense why Yusuf (as) ends up in the home of a minister. Naturally, the minister’s home is one where other dignitaries visit and discuss important political and economic matters. Yusuf (as) has the opportunity to listen in to the conversations as he goes about doing his work. Indeed, from the well to the caravan and to the minister’s home, Allah (swt) planned and decided that this is how Yusuf (as) will be exposed to learning the interpretation of speech.

This proves that Allah (swt) was dominant over Yusuf (as) and his matters. All events, including Yusuf’s (as) stay in jail, were critical because it was the way Allah (swt) chose for Yusuf (as) to come out and gain position as a minister himself. He mentions: “…And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.” (Yusuf 12:21)

From this Surah, we learn four names or attributes of Allah (swt): Ghalib (the Dominant), Lateef (Most Courteous and Kind), Aleem (All-Knowing) and Hakeem (All-Wise). It is important to seek counsel from this Surah because it displays how Allah’s (swt) plans work. Yes, it is extremely difficult to face grief and unexpected situations, but we need to realize and believe that these events are occurring by Allah’s (swt) will. We can seek inspiration from Yusuf’s (as) story and learn to trust Allah’s (swt) plans, especially when our lives seem to be breaking apart. Believe that Allah (swt) is taking you somewhere better.

An unabridged version of this lecture transcription is available at It has been abridged and edited for hiba with their permission.