Surah Yusuf, also called Ahsan al-Qasas (The best of stories), is the 12th surah of the Quran, revealed in Mecca, with 111 verses. The entire surah Yusuf, with the exception of the last few verses, narrates different phases of Yusuf’s (Joseph ) life.
The message it tries to transfer is sincerity in all actions and trials of one’s life and how one will benefit from God’s support when practicing truthfulness and purity of intention. In this article on Islam4u, the following topics will be discussed:
Facts About Surah Yusuf
|Other names||Ahsan al-Qasas|
|Place||Juz’ 12, 13|
|Order of revelation||53|
|No. of verses||111|
|No. of words||1795|
|No. of letters||7305|
|Famous verses||4, 108|
Surah Yusuf in a Nutshell
The Reward of Reciting Surah Yusuf
Reading and contemplating the verses of the Quran is a source of light and blessings in one’s life. Just like the different vitamins and minerals which benefit the body, each surah has its unique effect on the human soul. The following are the benefits of reciting and reflecting on surah Yusuf:
Envy-free Life and an Easy Death
According to the Noble Prophet (S), one should read surah Yusuf and teach it to one’s family and servants for this will ease the difficulty of death and will prevent one from becoming envious of other Muslims.1
Fearless on Judgement Day and as Beautiful as Joseph
Abu Abdullah (AS) says in a hadith that he who recites surah Yusuf on nights and days will be resurrected on Judgment Day having no fear and will appear as beautiful as Yusuf. Furthermore, he will be among the good servants of Allah.2
Does Reading Surah Yusuf Make You Beautiful?
It is believed that if surah Yusuf is recited 40 times and blown to a beautiful apple and eaten by a pregnant woman, it will make her baby beautiful. There is no narration approving this claim, nevertheless, according to the above cited hadith from the messenger of God (S), reciting surah Yusuf does make one’s face beautiful in the world to come. And the peace accompanying it, would definitely be the result of one acting according to the teachings of this surah.
Blessings of Reciting Surah Yusuf
The following are the blessings of reciting surah Yusuf and acting upon its teachings:
- Increase of sustenance.3
- Immunity from fornication and foul language.4
- More love and affection between spouses.
- Cure of all kinds of sicknesses.
Recitation of verses 91 to 93 with pure intention and attention to their meaning would benefit one in the cure of diseases.
- Freedom from imprisonment.
Frequently reciting verse 100 of surah Yusuf helps the one who has wrongly been imprisoned to be set free.
Storytelling Technique in Surah Yusuf
Storytelling is a beautiful method of involving the thoughts and emotions of the audience or reader to get a message across. This method has been employed by the Quran in numerous places but with a purpose:
So that you may exercise your reason.5
Elsewhere in the surah Yusuf we read,
لَّقَدْ كَانَ فِي يُوسُفَ وَإِخْوَتِهِ آيَاتٌ لِّلسَّائِلِينَ ﴿٧﴾
In Joseph and his brother`s there are certainly signs for the seekers.6
Joseph’s Story in Surah Yusuf in 10 Phases
The name Yusuf has been mentioned 27 times in the Quran, 25 of which has occurred in surah Yusuf. We can see Joseph’s story in 10 phases in surah Yusuf:
- Yusuf’s childhood years (4-18)
- Recounting his dream to his father (12:4)
- His father warns him not to recount the dream to his brothers (12:5)
- Brothers envy Yusuf (12:8)
- Brothers plot to get rid of him (12:9-10)
- Brothers carry out the plot and come crying to their father (12:16-18)
- Yusuf is taken to Egypt as a captive (12:19-22)
- They hide Yusuf and sell him cheap at the slave market (12:20)
- The prince of Egypt buys him and tells his wife to honor him (12:21)
- Yusuf is given judgment and sacred knowledge by God (12:22)
- Yusuf is tested yet remains chaste (12:23-32)
- Zuleikha solicits him but he practices fear of God (12:23)
- The prince of Egypt realizes that Yusuf is innocent and asks him to keep it a secret and tells his wife to repent (12:29)
- Zuleikha invites the women to her palace and shows Yusuf to them (12:31-32)
- Yusuf is cast to prison (33-42)
- Yusuf interprets dreams (12:36, 41)
- Yusuf calls his prison mates to monotheism (12:38-40)
- Yusuf is freed and appointed as minister (12:43-57)
- Yusuf interprets the king’s dream (12:46-49)
- Yusuf’s innocence becomes known to all (12:51)
- Yusuf meets his brothers in Egypt (12:58-68)
- Yusuf’s plan to keep his brother in Egypt (69-82)
- Jacob’s talk with his sons (12:83-87)
- Yusuf’s brothers repent (88-93)
- Jacob finally reunites with Yusuf (94-100)
What Does Surah Yusuf Teach Us?
Surah Yusuf is the only surah which narrates a story all the way from the beginning to the end.
Each and every verse of the noble Quran include enlightening lessons for those who are mindful and reflect. Surah Yusuf teaches us the following lessons:
Incredible Father-son Relationship
Surah Yusuf is the story of a family with many sons each with their unique features and qualities. Their father is a prophet but his sons are not all saints. They are human beings and prone to the deception of Satan.
Yusuf, on the other hand is a different story. Surah Yusuf starts off by recounting his dream to his father Jacob (Ya’qub):
إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ ﴿٤﴾
When Joseph said to his father, ‘Father! I saw eleven planets, and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrating themselves before me.’7
Contemplating this verse, one realizes the close father-son relationship between Yusuf and Jacob.
Father as the Guide of His Son
The father knows the characteristics of his sons very well, hence, warns his son, Yusuf, of possible plots of the brothers against Yusuf:
قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تَقْصُصْ رُؤْيَاكَ عَلَىٰ إِخْوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُوا لَكَ كَيْدًا ۖ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لِلْإِنسَانِ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٥﴾
He said, ‘My son, do not recount your dream to your brothers, lest they should devise schemes against you. Satan is indeed man’s manifest enemy.8
Points of This Verse:
- A successful father uses kind and loving words with his children (My dear son)
- Teach your children to be trustworthy and to keep secrets
In surah Yusuf, Jacob hears his son’s words and teaches him to keep his dream a secret between himself and his father.
According to a beautiful hadith from Abu Abdullah, the two qualities of truthfulness and trustworthiness increase sustenance.9
- Avoid a behavior which would create jealousy in your children.
Sense of Responsibility
In the Islamic family paradigm, all the members of a family are responsible. The father with regards to his family, the mother with regards to her husband’s house and children, and the siblings with regards to one another.
In surah Yusuf, you see that the father entrusts the responsibility of the smallest son to the eldest one; hence, when something happens for him and he is to remain in Egypt, the eldest son becomes concerned and expresses his feelings in the following verse.
فَلَمَّا اسْتَيْأَسُوا مِنْهُ خَلَصُوا نَجِيًّا ۖ قَالَ كَبِيرُهُمْ أَلَمْ تَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ أَبَاكُمْ قَدْ أَخَذَ عَلَيْكُمْ مَوْثِقًا مِنَ اللَّهِ وَمِنْ قَبْلُ مَا فَرَّطْتُمْ فِي يُوسُفَ ۖ فَلَنْ أَبْرَحَ الْأَرْضَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْذَنَ لِي أَبِي أَوْ يَحْكُمَ اللَّهُ لِي ۖ وَهُوَ خَيْرُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
When they had despaired of [moving] him, they withdrew to confer privately. The eldest of them said, ‘Don’t you know that your father has taken a [solemn] pledge from you by Allah, and earlier you have neglected your duty in regard to Joseph? So I will never leave this land until my father permits me, or Allah passes a judgement for me, and He is the best of judges.10
The issue of sense of responsibility falls into the category of trustworthiness which has already been mentioned above.
Don’t Swallow Your Grief
Two matters are reproached based on common sense and the teachings of Islam:
- Not expressing one’s feeling of pain and anguish and swallowing one’s emotions creates more tension and stress and leads to high blood pressure and heart problems.
- Taking one’s pain and agony to others and expressing one’s anguish to people who do not have the power to help would only defame one and make one seem weak and vulnerable in the eyes of others.
The Prophets of God took their anguish to God as we see one instance in surah Yusuf:
قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَشْكُو بَثِّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَى اللَّهِ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
He said, ‘I complain of my anguish and grief only to Allah. I know from Allah what you do not know.’11
Purity, the Key to All Bounties
The sexual drive is a strong temptation against which some cannot resist and submit to it. In the case of Prophet Yusuf, there came an instance where a beautiful young woman prepared the ground of sinning by offering herself to him, the handsome young man in her palace:
وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ
She certainly made for him; and he would have made for her [too] had he not beheld the proof of his Lord.12
But Yusuf had the power to resist. God attributes Yusuf’s power to his purity and sincerity:
كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿٢٤﴾
So it was, that We might turn away from him all evil and indecency. He was indeed one of Our dedicated servants.13
Surah Yusuf is the personal story of a man who went through many trials in his life and came out victorious, the key to his success being his sincerity of belief in the one God.
Our lives are also the arena of trials and challenges of life. We are each tested based on our weaknesses and areas we need to improve.
Surah Yusuf ends with a beautiful and concise summary of the pages of the history of mankind. The last three verses depict this story:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَىٰ ۗ أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ ۗ وَلَدَارُ الْآخِرَةِ خَيْرٌ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا ۗ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ
We did not send [any apostles] before you except as men from among the people of the towns, to whom We revealed. Have they not travelled over the land so that they may observe how was the fate of those who were before them? And the abode of the Hereafter is surely better for those who are Godwary. Do you not exercise your reason?14
لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ ۗ مَا كَانَ حَدِيثًا يُفْتَرَىٰ وَلَـٰكِن تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿١١١﴾
There is certainly a moral in their accounts for those who possess intellect. This [Quran] is not a fabricated discourse; rather, it is a confirmation of what was [revealed] before it, and an elaboration of all things, and a guidance and mercy for a people who have faith.15
- Al-Burhan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol. 7, p. 181.
- Mustadrak al-Wasā’il, vol. 4, p. 342.
- Al-Burhan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol. 7, p, 182.
- al-Burhan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol. 7, p, 183
- Quran 12:2 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:7 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:4 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:5 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:80 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:86 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:24 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:109 (Qara’i).
- Quran 12:111 (Qara’i).