Alif. Lam. Ra. These are the Revelations of the Book clear in itself and clearly showing the truth.
We send it down as a qur’an (discourse) in Arabic so that you may reflect (on both its meaning and wording) and understand.
We are about to relate to you (O Messenger) the best of narratives (of the past) by Our revealing to you this Qur’an. Before this, indeed you were unaware of it.
When Joseph said to his father: "O my father! I saw in a dream eleven stars, as well as the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrating themselves before me."
He (Jacob) said: "O my son! Do not relate your dream to your brothers, lest (out of envy) they devise a scheme against you. For Satan is a manifest enemy to humankind (and can incite them to do such a thing).
"So will your Lord choose you and impart to you some knowledge of the inner meaning of all happenings (including dreams), and complete His favor upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He completed it formerly upon your forefathers Abraham and Isaac. Surely, your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
Assuredly, in (this account of) Joseph and his brothers there are many signs (messages) for seekers of truth.
When they (the brothers addressing one another) said: "Joseph and his brother are indeed more loved by our father than we are, even though we are a powerful band (of greater use to him). Surely, our father is manifestly mistaken."
(One of them said:) "Kill Joseph, or cast him out in some distant land so that your father’s attention should turn only to you, and after that you may again become righteous people."
Another of them, putting forward his view, said: "Do not kill Joseph, but rather, cast him into the depth of the well (that you know of), that some caravan may pick him up – (do that) if you are seriously intending to take action."
They said (having agreed on this) to their father: "Our father! Why will you not trust Joseph with us, while we are his sincere well-wishers?
"Let him go out with us tomorrow, that he may enjoy himself and play; surely we will take good care of him."
He (Jacob) said: "Indeed, it grieves me that you should take him with you, and I fear lest a wolf should devour him while you are inattentive of him."
They said: "If a wolf should devour him when we are so strong a company, then we should surely be lost!"
And so they went away with him, and decided to put Joseph in the depth of the well, (which they did). We revealed to him: "You will most certainly remind them of this deed of theirs while they are unaware (neither knowing nor understanding all that has transpired)."
And at nightfall they returned to their father, weeping.
They said: "Our father! We went off racing with one another, and left Joseph behind by our things, then a wolf devoured him. But we know that you will not believe us, even though we speak the truth."
They had brought his shirt back with false blood on it. Jacob said: "Rather, your (evil-commanding) souls have tempted you to do something evil. So (the proper recourse for me is) a becoming patience (a patience that endures without complaint). God it is Whose help is sought against (the situation) that you have described."
And there came a caravan, and they sent forth one among them to fetch water. He let down his bucket (into the well). "Good luck!" he exclaimed: "(There is) a youth here!" So they hid and preserved him as merchandise to sell. God had full knowledge of what they were doing.
And they sold him for a paltry price – a few silver coins – so little did they value him.
The man who bought him in Egypt said to his wife: "Give him honorable, good lodging. It may be that he will prove useful to us or we may adopt him as a son." Thus did We establish Joseph in the land (Egypt), that We would impart to him knowledge and understanding of the inner meaning of events, including dreams. God always prevails in whatever be His Will, but most people do not know (that it is so).
When Joseph reached his full manhood, We granted him authority with sound, wise judgment, and special knowledge. Thus do We reward those devoted to doing good as if seeing God.
And the woman in whose house he was living sought to enjoy herself by him. She bolted the doors and said, "Come, please!" He said: "God forbid! My lord (your husband) has given me honorable, good lodging. Assuredly, wrongdoers never prosper."
Certainly, she was burning with desire for him; and he would have desired her had it not been that he had already seen the argument and proof of his Lord (concerning chastity and good conduct, and so was anxious only about how to escape her). We did it in that way (We showed to him Our argument and proof) so that We might avert from him an evil and indecency. For he was one of Our servants endowed with perfect sincerity and purity of intention in faith and practicing the Religion.
So they raced to the door and she tore his shirt from the back, and they met her master (husband) by the door. She cried: "What should be the recompense for him who purposes evil against your household – except imprisonment or a grievous punishment?"
He (Joseph) said: "She it was who sought to enjoy herself by me." And one of those present, a member of her household, said: "If his shirt has been torn from the front, she is telling the truth, and he is a liar.
"But if it is torn from the back, then she is lying, and he is truthful."
So when he (her husband) saw that his shirt was torn from the back, he (turned to his wife and) said: "This is from the guile of you women; for sure your guile is great."
(To Joseph) he said "Do not mention this (to anyone)." (To his wife) he said: "Ask forgiveness for your sin; for surely you have committed a sin."
Women (gossiping) in the city said: "The minister’s wife has sought to enjoy herself by her slave-boy. Certainly it (her desire for him) has pierced her heart with love. We see that she has plainly lost her wits and her way."
When she heard of their sly whispers, she sent for them, and prepared for them a place of reclining for a sumptuous meal. She gave to each one of them a knife and said (to Joseph): "Come out before them!" When they saw him, they were so stricken with admiration of him that they cut their hands, exclaiming: "God save us! This is no human mortal; he is but a noble angel!"
She said: "This is the one about whom you have been taunting me. And, indeed, I did seek to enjoy myself by him, but he was resolute in his chastity. Yet if he continues to refuse what I command him, he shall certainly be imprisoned, and shall certainly find himself among the humbled!"
He (imploring God) said: "My Lord! Prison is dearer to me than what they bid me to. If You do not avert their guile from me, I might incline towards them and become one of the ignorant (those who succumb to such temptations)."
So his Lord answered him and averted from him their guile. Surely He it is Who is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.
It occurred to them (the noblemen and his household), even after they had seen the signs (of Joseph’s innocence), that they should imprison him for a time.
And there entered the prison with him two young men. One of them said (to Joseph one day): "I dreamed that I was pressing grapes for wine." The other said: "I dreamed that I was carrying bread upon my head, of which birds were eating." "Inform us of their meaning. For sure we see that you are of those endowed with the best qualities."
He said: "The meal which you are fed (daily) will not come to you but I will have informed you of their meaning before it comes to you. This is of the knowledge that my Lord has taught me. Surely I have left behind me the way of a people who do not have faith in God (as they ought to have faith), and who do not believe in the Hereafter.
"I have followed the way of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is not for us to associate anything with God as partner. This (His teaching and calling us to belief in Him without associating any partners with Him) is from God’s grace and bounty on us and on all people, but most people do not give thanks (in return, by believing firmly in His Oneness and worshipping Him alone).
"O my two fellow-prisoners! Are many diverse lords more reasonable and better (to attribute creation to and believe in and obey), or God, the One, the All-Overwhelming (holding absolute sway over all that exists)?
"What you worship apart from Him is nothing but names that you and your forefathers made up for them. (In the absolute sense) judgment and authority rest with none but God alone: He has commanded that you worship none but Him alone. This is the upright, ever-true Religion, but most people do not know (and they act from their ignorance).
"(As for your dreams:) O my fellow-prisoners! One of you will again give his lord (the king) wine to drink. As to the other, he will be hanged, and birds will peck at his head. The matter about which you inquired has already been decided."
He said to the one of the two whom he deemed would be delivered: "Mention me in the presence of your lord." But Satan caused him to forget to mention him to his lord, and so he (Joseph) remained in prison some more years.
And the king said one day: "I saw in a dream seven fat cows being devoured by seven lean ones, and seven green ears of grain and another (seven) dry. O you courtiers! Enlighten me about my dream, if you know how to interpret dreams."
They said: "Jumbles of dream images. And we are not knowledgeable in the interpretation of dream images."
Now after all that time, of the two (prisoners) the one who had been delivered remembered (what Joseph had asked him to remember) and he said: "I will inform you of its meaning, so send me forth!"
(Coming to Joseph in the prison, he said): "Joseph, O man of truth! Enlighten us about seven fat cows being devoured by seven lean ones, and seven green ears of grain and another (seven) dry – so that I can return to the people (of the court). And it may be that (after I have told them your interpretation of the dreams) they will come to know (what manner of man you are and the injustice done to you)."
He said: "You shall sow for seven years as usual, but that which you have harvested, leave it in the ear, all save a little which you eat.
"Then will come after that seven hard years, which will consume what you have laid up for them, all but a little you should keep in store (to use as seed stock).
"And thereafter will come a year in which the people will be relieved (with abundance in place of scarcity), and in which they will press (fruit for drink and oil, and milk from their cattle)."
(Informed of the meaning of his dream,) the king said, "Bring him to me!" When the messenger (of the king) came to him, Joseph said: "Go back to your lord and ask him to find out the facts of the case about the women who cut their hands. For sure my Lord has full knowledge of their guile (and my innocence)."
(The king had the woman assembled before him and) he said: "What happened (between you and Joseph) when you sought to enjoy yourselves by him?" They said: "God save us! We perceived no evil at all on his part!" And the wife of the minister said: "Now the truth has come to light. It was I who sought to enjoy myself by him. He was indeed truthful (in all he said and true to his lord)."
(Joseph was informed of the women’s confessions and the declaration of his innocence. He explained why he had asked for the inquiry:) "This was so that he (my former lord) should know that I did not betray him in his absence, and that God never guides the schemes of the treacherous (to success).
"Yet I do not claim my self free of error, for assuredly the human soul always commands evil, except that my Lord has mercy (which saves us from committing evil acts). Surely my Lord is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate (especially toward His believing servants)."
The king said: "Bring him to me, so that I may appoint him to myself (as my personal counselor)." And when he had conversed with him, he said: "From this day you shall be of high standing with us, established and trusted."
He (Joseph) said: "Place me in charge over the store-houses of the land, for I am a good custodian, a knowledgeable one."
Thus We established Joseph in the land (of Egypt) with authority. He was fully accepted therein, able to go and execute his authority wherever he willed. We visit with Our mercy whomever We will. We do not leave to waste the reward of those devoted to doing good as if seeing God.
However, certainly the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety.
And (after some years) Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt and presented themselves before him: he knew them (at once), they did not recognize him.
When he provided them with their provisions, he said: "Bring me (when you come next time) that (step) brother of yours by your father. Do you not see that I fill up the measure and I am the best of hosts?
"But if you do not bring him, I will no longer have any measure of provisions to give you, and you shall not be given leave to come near me."
They said: "We will try to win him from his father, indeed we will do our utmost."
He (Joseph) said to his servants: "Put back their merchandise (with which they had bartered) into their saddlebags, so that they may find it there when they have returned home, and hence will (be more eager to) return."
So when they went back to their father, they said: "O our father! We will be denied any measure (of provisions unless we take our brother), so send our brother with us that we may obtain our measure. For we will surely take every care of him."
He said: "Shall I to entrust him to you as I once entrusted his brother to you before? However, God is the Best as protector and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful."
Then when they opened their packs, they found that their merchandise had been returned to them. "Father," they said, "What more should we ask for? Here is our merchandise returned to us. So we will again be able to get provisions for our family! We will guard our brother and (his being with us) we will have an additional camel-load. That will be an easy gain."
He said: "Never will I send him with you until you give me a solemn pledge in God’s Name that you will indeed bring him back to me, unless you are (in some insurmountable way) overwhelmed. Then, when they gave him their solemn pledge, he said: "God is witness to and watcher over all that we say (and only on Him can we rely to fulfill our pledges)."
He said (by way of advice at the time of their departure): "O my sons! Do not enter the city by one gate (in a single company), but enter by different gates. Yet I can be of no avail whatever to you against anything God wills. Judgment and authority rest with none but God alone. In Him have I put my trust, and whoever would entrust themselves should put their trust in Him."
They entered the city in the manner their father had enjoined on them, although this would have proved of no avail whatever to them against anything God had willed; it was but a need in Jacob’s soul, which he thus satisfied. For he was possessed of knowledge because We had taught it to him, but most people do not know (nor do they act according to the knowledge from God).
And when they presented themselves before Joseph, he welcomed his brother to himself, and (having taken him aside) said: "Surely it is I – I am your brother, so do not grieve over what they did."
Then when he had provided them with their provisions, he put the drinking-cup (belonging to him) in his brother’s saddlebag (as a gift). Then, (as they had just departed on their return) a herald called out: "O you people of the caravan! You are surely thieves!"
They said, turning towards them (the herald and his companions): "What is it that you are missing?"
They said: "We are missing the king’s goblet, and whoever brings it shall receive a camel-load (as reward)." (And the herald added:) "I have pledged myself to recovering it."
They (the brothers) said: "By God! Certainly you know well that we did not come to provoke disorder and corruption in this land, and we have never been thieves!"
They said: "What, then, shall be the penalty for it if you are proved liars?"
They said: "The penalty for it is: the (freedom of the) one in whose saddlebag it is found is the penalty for it. That is how we recompense the wrongdoers (who steal)."
(So they were brought back before Joseph to be searched.) He began with their sacks before his brother’s sack; and then he brought the drinking-cup out of his brother’s sack. In this way We made an arrangement for Joseph. Under the king’s law, he could not have detained his brother, had not God so willed. Whomsoever We will, We raise in ranks. Above every owner of knowledge there is (always) one more knowledgeable (until God Who is the All-Knowing).
They (the other brothers) said: "If he has stolen – well, a brother of his stole before." But Joseph (endured their false accusation in silence and) held it secret in his soul and did not disclose it to them. He said (to himself): "You are indeed in a bad situation. God has full knowledge of (the truth of) what you allege."
"O minister!" they said: "He has a father, a very old man; so take one of us in his place. We see that you are indeed of those devoted to selfless kindness."
He said: "God forbid that we take any other but him with whom we found our merchandise; (if we did otherwise) then surely we (too) would be wrongdoers."
So, when they lost hope of moving him, they withdrew to take counsel among themselves. The eldest of them said: "Do you not know how your father took a solemn pledge from you in God’s Name, and how, before that, you failed with regard to Joseph? Never will I depart from this land, until my father gives me leave, or God judges for me (by ending my life or enabling me to win back my brother). And He is the Best of judges.
"Return to your father, and say: ‘Our father! Your son stole. We do not testify (to anything) except what we know; and we are not keepers of the Unseen.
‘Inquire in the township where we were, and the caravan with whom we traveled hither. We are certainly telling the truth.’ "
(When they had returned to their father and made that speech to him) he said: "No! Rather, your (evil-commanding) souls have tempted you to something. So (the proper recourse for me now is, again,) a becoming patience (a patience that endures without complaint). It may be that God will bring them back to me all together. He it is Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise."
He turned away from them and said: "Alas, my grief for Joseph!" And his eyes turned white because of the grief. And he was restraining (any resentment toward his other sons, never displaying it to them).
They said: "By God! You will not cease mentioning Joseph until you are consumed, or you perish!"
He said: "I only disclose my anguish and sorrow to God, and I know from God what you do not know."
He said (when once more seeing off his sons): "O my sons, go forth and seek earnestly for Joseph and his brother; and do not despair of God’s Mercy, for none ever despairs of God’s Mercy, except people who disbelieve in Him."
They (went back to Egypt and once more) presented themselves before Joseph, saying: "O minister! Hardship has visited us and our family, and we have brought only merchandise of scant worth; but fill up for us the measure and be charitable to us. Surely God rewards the charitable."
He said: "Do you know what you did to Joseph and his brother at that time when you acted as if ignorant (of right and wrong)?"
They said: "Is it indeed you who are Joseph?" He said: "I am Joseph, and this is my brother. God has indeed been gracious to us. Surely whoever keeps from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety, and is patient – surely God will not leave to waste the reward of those devoted to doing good as if seeing God."
"By God," they responded, "God has indeed preferred you above us, and certainly we were sinful."
He said: "No reproach this day shall be on you. May God forgive you; indeed He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.
"Go with this shirt of mine and lay it over my father’s face, and he shall recover his sight; and come to me with all your people."
At the time that the (brothers’) caravan set out, their father said (to those around him): "Surely, I sense the fragrance of Joseph, unless you would consider me a dotard."
"By God," they said, "you are indeed still lost in your old error."
But when the bearer of the good tidings came (with Joseph’s shirt), Jacob laid it over his face and he regained his sight. (Soon the caravan of the brothers reached home.) Jacob said: "Did I not tell you that I know from God what you do not know?"
(Jacob’s sons confessed what they had done.) They said: "O our father! Ask God to forgive us our sins; surely we have been sinful."
He said: "I will ask my Lord to forgive you. Surely He it is Who is the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate."
(When Jacob’s family reached Egypt,) they presented themselves before Joseph (who had come out to welcome them). He embraced his parents, and said (addressing all those who came): "Enter Egypt by God’s will in security (free from fear of privation or grief)!"
He raised his parents on the throne and they all bowed down before Joseph (as a sign of loyalty to him). He said: "O my father! This is the meaning of my dream of long ago; my Lord has made it come true. He has indeed been gracious to me: He freed me from prison, and He brought you all from the desert after Satan had sown discord between me and my brothers. Truly, my Lord is subtly kind in the way He brings about whatever He wills. Surely, He it is Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
"My Lord! You have indeed granted me some important part of the rule and imparted to me some knowledge of the inner meaning of all happenings (including dreams). O You, Originator of the heavens and the earth each with particular features! You are my Owner and Guardian in this world and in the Hereafter. Take my soul to You a Muslim, and join me with the righteous."
That is an account of some exemplary events of the unseen (a realm and time beyond the reach of any created being’s perception) that We reveal to you, (O Messenger). You were not with them when those agreed upon their plans, and then were scheming (against Joseph).
Yet, be you ever so eager, most people will not believe.
You do not ask them any wage for it (for conveying the Qur’an to them). It is but a message and reminder to all conscious beings.
How many a sign there is in the heavens and earth that they pass by, being unmindful of the signs and giving no consideration to them.
And most of them do not even believe in God without associating partners with Him.
Do they deem themselves secure that there will not come upon them an overwhelming punishment of God, which will envelop them thoroughly, or that the Last Hour will not come upon them all of a sudden, without their being aware (of its coming)?
Say (to them, O Messenger): "This is my way: I call to God on clear evidence and with sure knowledge – I and those who follow me. All-Glorified is God (in that He is absolutely above having any partners) – and I am not one of those who associate partners with Him."
We did not send before you as Messengers any but men to whom We revealed, from amongst the people of the townships (where We raised them). Have they never traveled about the earth and beheld how was the outcome for those who came before them (those who persisted in associating partners with Him and in wrongdoing and transgression)? Assuredly, the abode of the Hereafter is best for those who keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety. Will you not, then, reason and understand?
So far so that when they (the earlier Messengers who all had to suffer much persecution for a long time) nearly lost hope and were convinced that they were denied, Our help came to them. And whoever We willed was saved. But Our mighty punishment cannot be averted from the guilty people committed to accumulating sin.
Indeed, in their exemplary life-stories there is a significant lesson for people of discernment. It (the Qur’an, which contains them) is not a discourse fabricated, but (a Divine Book revealed as) a confirmation of (the Divine authorship of and the truths still contained by) the Revelations prior to it, and an explanation of everything, and a guidance and mercy for people who will and do believe.