12- Yusuf:

In God’s Name, whose Mercy is Great and Continuous:

(12:1)   These verses are part of the clear book of guidance I sent you.

(12:2)   I sent it in Arabic so its meaning would be preserved and understood by you.

(12:3)   Oh Muhammad, I am telling you the best story by revealing this chapter to you, and before this revelation, this story what not known to you.

(12:4)   One day, Yusuf said to his father, “Oh father, I saw in a dream eleven planets and the sun and moon submitting to me. What does this dream mean to you?”

(12:5)   Jacob responded, “Oh my son, do not tell your brothers about your dream. They might become jealous and plot against you. The devil has declared himself the enemy of mankind. He might fill their hearts with jealousy to turn them against you.

(12:6)   Your vision foretells that God has selected you and will teach the interpretation of dreams to you, and God will bless you and this family with your prophethood just as He blessed your forefathers, Abraham and Isaac before you. God knows everything, and knows everything about you.”

(12:7)   For those who ask, there is a lesson in the story of Yusuf and his brothers.

(12:8)   One day the brothers said to each other, “Our father’s love belongs to Yusuf and his little brother. He loves them more than us when we are ten strong men. Our father is clearly wrong for giving preference to them.”

(12:9)   The devil inspired them, “Kill Yusuf or find someplace to get rid of him. In time your father will give you his love and get over him. Then you can ask for forgiveness and be good again.”

(12:10) One of them said, “Do not kill Yusuf. If you want to, throw him in a deep well and some travelers will take him.” And so his brothers plotted against him.

(12:11) Then they went to their father and said, “Oh father, why don’t you trust us with Yusuf, when we can take care of him.

(12:12) In the morning, let him come with us to eat and play, and we will protect him.”

(12:13) He said, “I will miss him if you take him, and I am afraid that, when you are not paying attention, a wolf might eat him.”

(12:14) They said, “There are ten of us! How pathetic we would be if a wolf got to him.”

(12:15) The next day they took him and committed what they had planned for him. Then in the dark well I revealed to him, “A day will come when you confront them with what they have done, and they will not recognize you when that day comes.”

(12:16) Then they returned to their father in the evening crying.

(12:17) They said, “Oh father, we left Yusuf with our supplies as we went racing. In the short time we were gone, a wolf ate him. But you will not believe us even though it is the truth that you are hearing.” 

(12:18) They showed him an intact shirt covered in fake blood that was dripping. Jacob said, “You convinced yourselves of something terrible, but I will be very patient and may God help me with what you are describing.”

(12:19) Then a caravan that was passing sent someone to get water from the well as they rested from their traveling. When he lowered his bucket into the well he exclaimed, “What great news, I found a boy we can make money on from selling.” The entire time I knew everything they were doing. They took Yusuf prisoner, and he was added to their merchandise.

(12:20) They continued on and sold him for a pathetic price, a few coins; they didn’t care and valued him accordingly,

(12:21) but the Egyptian who bought him told his wife, “He might benefit us, or we might adopt him as a son, so take care of him and give him plenty.” This is how I established Yusuf in the land, and taught him to interpret dreams accurately. I do what I want, but most don’t realize My power overcomes everything completely.

(12:22) When Yusuf became a strong man, I gave him knowledge and insight to act wisely. This is how I reward good people who submit to Me.

(12:23) Then the woman of the house tried to seduce him. One day she locked all of the doors and called to him. He said, “I ask God for protection. My lord, and your husband, has taken good care of me. It is wrong to betray him.”

(12:24) But she was overcome with lust for him. And he would have succumbed to her, except that he saw the proof of My power. He was one of those who submit to Me sincerely, so I protected him from her evil desires.

(12:25) Then they raced towards the door, and she grabbed his shirt from behind tearing it as he ran. The door was flung open and her husband was standing there about to come in. She said, “What should be done to someone who attacked me? He should be imprisoned or punished painfully.”

(12:26) Yusuf said, “It was her that went after me.” “If his shirt was torn from the front, then she is telling the truth and he is lying,

(12:27) but if it is torn from the back, then he is telling the truth and she is lying,” said a member of her family.

(12:28) When everyone saw that his shirt was torn from behind, the husband said to his wife, “This was your doing. What is wrong with you and your evil planning?

(12:29) Yusuf, forget this happened, and she will apologize to you, because she was wrong for what she was doing.”

(12:30) Then women in the city started gossiping, “The wife of the treasurer trying to seduce her servant? Lust has overcome her. She didn’t realize her clear wrongdoing.”

(12:31) When she heard what they were saying about her, she invited them to a banquet as part of her scheming. She gave each of them a knife and fruit to start eating. Then she commanded Yusuf to go come out to them. When they saw him, they were astonished and didn’t realize that they cut their own skin. They said, “Oh my God, what a beautiful angel. He is not human.”

(12:32) She said, “See, now how can you blame me. I tried to seduce him but he rejected me. If he doesn’t do what I want, he will be imprisoned and humiliated until he submits to me.”

(12:33) So he turned praying to Me, “Oh my Lord, I would prefer prison to what they are asking of me. If you don’t protect me from them, I might not realize and fall into temptation.”

(12:34) I hear and know everything, so I answered his call and gave him My protection.

(12:35) After seeing what happened, the treasurer and his advisors decided to imprison him for a period of time.

(12:36) Two servants entered prison with him. One said, “I saw in a dream that I was pressing grapes for wine.” The other said, “I saw in my dream birds eating from bread I was carrying on my head! We have heard that you know how to interpret a dream, so please tell us what they mean.”

(12:37) He said, “Before you get your next meal, I will tell you what they mean precisely. It is God that taught me this ability. I left a people who do not believe in God and reject the Day of Judgment completely.

(12:38) I follow in the footsteps of my fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; We worship and obey God only. This guidance is a blessing God gave to mankind and to us, but most people are ungrateful and instead follow their desires and lusts.

(12:39) Oh my companions in prison, is it better to obey many lords or the one true God whose power is supreme?

(12:40) All you worship instead of Him are false gods you and your forefathers invented and named. To do what you did, God did not give you the authority or permission, and He makes the rules for His creation. He commanded that we worship and obey only Him. Most people are ignorant and don’t realize it, but that is the true religion.

(12:41) Oh my companions in prison, one of you will be freed and serve wine to the king. As for the other, he will be crucified and birds will stand on his head eating. It has been determined, and this is the answer to the questions you were asking.”

(12:42) Then Yusuf asked the man whom he knew would be freed, to mention his case to the king to help get his name cleared, but the devil made the man forget. So Yusuf stayed in prison for a few more years.

(12:43) Then one day the king had a dream, he said, “I saw seven fat cows being eaten by seven that were lean, and I saw seven green stalks of grain overcome by seven that were dry and ready for harvesting. Oh my advisors tell me, if you know, what does this mean.”

(12:44) They said, “We don’t know its interpretation. They are just mixed up visions you saw when you were dreaming.”

(12:45) Then the man who was freed from the prison finally remembered Yusuf and addressed the King saying, “I will get you the answer from someone I know. I will be back soon, so please let me go.”

(12:46) Then he went to Yusuf saying, “Oh Yusuf, you are a truthful person, and you were right regarding my dream. Tell me what it means to see seven fat cows being eaten by seven that are lean, and seven green stalks of grain overcome by seven that are dry and ready for harvesting. I want to go back and tell the king.”

(12:47) He said, “The next seven years will be fat with lots of food for eating. Then there will be seven years of drought, and if you don’t prepare, the people will be starving. So for the next seven years, leave what you harvest in its husk and store it, except for the little you need for eating.

(12:48) Then in the seven years of drought, the people will eat what they have stored except for what is needed for planting.

(12:49) I will tell you something more, after that will come a year with rain coming in heavy downpours. It will relieve the people’s suffering and they will have plenty of fruits for pressing.

(12:50) When the king heard this he said, “Bring him to me.” When the messenger came, Yusuf said, “Until my name is cleared, I will not leave. I am staying in this prison. Go back to your king and ask him to look into the matter of the women who sliced their own skin. Tell him my master knows everything.”

(12:51) Then the king said to the women, “What is the story of your infatuation with him.” They said, “May God give us protection, he never did anything.” Then the wife of the treasurer said, “I am the one who tried to seduce him. He was telling the truth and now the truth is revealed.” And so Yusuf got his named cleared.

(12:52) When he heard the news, he said, “I did this so my master would know I was true to him even when he was not there, and so that they would know that God eventually causes the betrayers to fail.

(12:53) I do not declare the innocence of my soul. The soul is inclined to follow its desires into sin without God’s mercy and protection. But God is merciful and forgiving with those who sincerely repent after falling into temptation.”

(12:54) The King said, “Bring him, I will have him serve only me.” Then when they spoke he said, “Your place is established, I know that you are trustworthy.”

(12:55) Yusuf said, “Make me in charge of the storehouses in the land and the treasury. I will take care of them, and I know how to prepare for the drought that is coming shortly.”

(12:56) In this way, I established Yusuf’s position in the land. He had the power to go anywhere he wanted freely. The reward for the good people is never lost, and I give to whom I want to from My mercy.

(12:57) But the reward of the next life is even better for those who believe and live their lives afraid of disobeying Me.

(12:58) When the drought came, people traveled from all over to buy their grain from Yusuf because they were hungry. One day, Yusuf’s brothers arrived to trade with him. He recognized them, but they didn’t realize it was him.

(12:59) He told them when he sold them what they wanted and prepared their supplies for their return journey, “Next time you come, bring your little brother to me. Bring me this brother of yours from your father’s side that you were mentioning. Don’t you see that I am fair in my dealings and I take good care of visitors who come traveling?

(12:60) But if you don’t bring him, then next time I won’t sell anything to you, so don’t bother coming.”

(12:61) They said, “We will ask his father to let him come, and we will be very convincing.”

(12:62) Then in private Yusuf told his servants, “Hide what they just paid me back with them. I want them to find it when they get back home to give them a reason to return again.”

(12:63) When the brothers returned to their father they said, “Oh Father, in Egypt we are barred from trading. Let us take our little brother. We will be trustworthy and take good care of him.”

(12:64) He said, “Should I trust you, like I trusted you with his brother before him?! I put my trust in God, who is better than you at protecting my family. God is the best protector and the most merciful. I pray that he returns my son to Me.”

(12:65) But when they opened their supplies they found their money had been returned completely. They said, “What more could we ask from the treasurer for returning our property? Now we can go back and buy more food for our family. We will protect our brother and get an extra camel load easily.” 

(12:66) He said, “I will not let him go with you until you give me a promise before God that you will return him to me healthy. You will return him no matter what, unless you are completely defeated by an enemy.” When they gave him their oath he said, “God is a witness and will enforce this deal between you and me.”

(12:67) And he said, “Oh my sons, do not enter the city all together, but rather, enter split up from several directions, it is safer. But remember, this will not protect you from anything God has written for you. God decides and determines everything. I trust and depend on Him, and if you are going to depend on anybody, put your trust in Him.”

(12:68) They entered the city as their father had told them, but this did not save them from anything I had planned for them. It just satisfied their father’s desire that they should be careful. Their father knew best because of what I had taught him. But most people don’t realize that no matter how careful they are, they cannot escape what I have planned for them.

(12:69) When they entered upon Yusuf, he pulled aside his little brother Benjamin. He said, “I am your brother Yusuf, so do not be sad and depressed by what they, in the past, have done.”

(12:70) When he finished preparing their supplies, Yusuf had someone put a cup in his brother’s ride. Then as they departed a caller was sent saying, “Stop this caravan. You have been stealing!”

(12:71) The brothers said as they turned back, “What are you missing?”

(12:72) “We are missing the measuring cup of the king. Whoever comes forward with it now will have a camel’s load of food, this I am guarantying.”

(12:73) The brothers said, “We swear by God, you know we did not come to cause trouble here, and we did not steal.”

(12:74) “Then what should happen to the one who stole if you are lying and have something to conceal?”

(12:75) The brothers said, “The punishment is that you take whomever the cup is found with as a slave for a year. That is his punishment, and that is how we treat those who steal.”

(12:76) Yusuf started his search with their things before finding the cup in his little brother’s belongings. I inspired Yusuf with this plan to keep Benjamin. Because in the King’s law in Egypt the thief is fined and beaten. I determined that his brothers would admit to a punishment in which they accept leaving him. I raised Yusuf up with knowledge, and over everyone who knows is someone who knows more.

(12:77) The brothers said, “If he steals, he is just following the example of his brother Yusuf who stole before.” Yusuf kept himself from responding, “You have reached a new low, and God knows you are lying.”

(12:78) They said, “Oh powerful Treasurer, he has a father who is very old and cannot live without him. Take one of us instead of him. You are kind and a very good person.”

(12:79) He said, “I ask God for protection from punishing anyone but the guilty. If I did, I would be treating someone unjustly.”

(12:80) When they gave up on convincing him, they decided to talk privately. The oldest said, “Don’t you remember the oath you gave before God to Father, and what we did in the past to Yusuf, our brother? I will not leave this land until Father gives me permission, or God determines that our brother gets his freedom. Put your trust in God and His decision.

(12:81) Go back to Father and say, ‘Oh Father, your son Benjamin was taken for stealing. We are only telling you what, with our own eyes, we were seeing. We don’t have knowledge of the unseen to know what really happened.

(12:82) You can send someone to the city we came from asking, or hear the story from our neighbors who were with us traveling. We are telling the truth. We are not lying.’”

(12:83) When he heard this, their father said, “You have convinced yourselves of something terrible, but I will be very patient and may God bring back to me all of my children. God is wise and knows everything that happened.”

(12:84) Then he turned away from them saying, “Oh I miss Yusuf so much.” And his eyes turned white from his tears of sorrow and depression.

(12:85) The brothers said, “By God, you will keep remembering Yusuf until your body breaks down or you die from your dejection!”

(12:86) He said, “Rather, I complain of my hardship and sadness to God only, and there is something that you don’t know which He has informed me.

(12:87) Oh my sons, go out and look for Yusuf and his brother sincerely. Do not give up on God’s mercy. The only people who give up on God’s mercy are those who reject His guidance completely.”

(12:88) Then in time they returned to Yusuf saying, “Oh powerful Treasurer, we and our families are facing severe hardship and hunger. We have come to you without enough money, but give us a full load of food and be charitable with us. God rewards those who give to the needy.”

(12:89) He said, “Do you know what you did to Yusuf and his brother when you were behaving ignorantly?”

(12:90) They said, “Yusuf? Is that you really?” He said, “I am Yusuf and this is Benjamin my brother. God has blessed us by bringing us back together. We stand here affirming that God rewards good people who are patient and fearful of disobeying.”

(12:91) They said, “We swear, God has preferred you to us, and we are sorry for our wrongdoing.”

(12:92) He said, “Today, between us there are no hard feelings. God is very merciful and forgiving.

(12:93) Take my shirt, drop it onto father’s face, and he will be able to see. Go bring me all of your families to come live here with me.”

(12:94) When the caravan took off, Jacob said, “I can smell the scent of my son, Yusuf, on the breeze that is coming. But I am afraid that you will think that I am losing it from aging.”

(12:95) His family said, “By God this is your same misguided story that you keep repeating.”

(12:96) When the brothers came with the news, Yusuf’s shirt was placed against their father’s face and he started seeing. He said, “Didn’t I tell you that there was knowledge you didn’t know, and that God had informed me of something?”

(12:97) They said, “Oh Father, ask God to forgive us. We clearly fell into wrongdoing.”

(12:98) He said, “I will ask my Lord to forgive you. He is very merciful and forgiving.”

(12:99) When they met Yusuf at the border, he hugged his father and mother saying, “God willing, enter Egypt in total safety.”

(12:100) Yusuf pulled his parents up to sit by his side like royalty. Then his parents and brothers all turned to him and bowed deeply. He said, “Oh father, this is the meaning of the dream I saw when I was young. God made it come true, took care of me, and released me from prison. After the devil came between me and my brothers, God has brought you out of the undeveloped land of Canaan. My Lord is all knowing, wise, and gentle in getting what He wants done.

(12:101) Oh Lord, you have brought the heavens and the earth into existence, and you are my protector in this life and the one to come. Oh Lord, you have given me some power and taught me a little dream interpretation. Oh Lord, protect me so I die in a state of submission, and let me be among the good people in Heaven.”

(12:102) Oh Muhammad, these are some of the events of the past which I am revealing. You were not there when Yusuf’s brothers decided to follow through on their plotting and scheming.

(12:103) But most will not believe no matter how hard you try to be convincing.   

(12:104) They find belief in this message too taxing even though you are not charging them anything. This message is a reminder and warning for everyone, so don’t worry, and keep sharing. 

(12:105) How many signs are there in the earth and sky? Every day they see them, turn away and pass by.

(12:106) Most of them believe in Me, then worship and obey false gods and idols without a reason why.

(12:107) How can they feel safe from my overwhelming punishment? Or maybe they will be surprised all of a sudden by the Day of Judgment?

(12:108) Oh Muhammad, tell them, “This is my path. I call people to God with evidence that shines clearly. I am spreading this message along with those who follow me. God is above having partners, and I worship and obey Him only.”

(12:109) Before you, I chose men from various cities as messengers to send. Those who reject this message now should travel in the land and see what happened to those before them in the end. Why don’t they understand that the next life is better for those who fear disobeying Me?

(12:110) I waited to punish the previous people who rejected my message arrogantly. I waited until my messengers lost all hope in convincing them, and the people thought they were lied to about the coming penalty. Then I saved my messengers and the believers only. Once it comes, nothing can turn back my punishment from the people who commit the crime of rejecting Me stubbornly.

(12:111) In these stories is a lesson for those who think deeply. These stories are true, and they validate and explain what is left from the scripture sent previously, and they are guidance and mercy for those who believe in Me sincerely.

Chapter Notes:

Verse 1: This chapter, like a few other chapters of the Quran, begins with a series of flowing Arabic letters. Many interpretations have been given for these letters. Some early Quran scholars interpreted these letters as abbreviations. Some interpreted them to mean that God was swearing by the letters of the Arabic alphabet to show their importance for writing and their basis for forming the Quran. Others refrained from interpreting them and said only God knows the meaning. So it is as if the letters are saying “This book is from God and only God knows all of its secrets. The simplest explanation is that the Quran was revealed in the language of the Arabs fourteen hundred years ago. While they frequently had poetry competitions, it was unknown in their literature to start something with flowing individual letters like this. To them, listening to the flowing individual letters would have had the effect of attracting their attention to something new they had never heard before. So it was a beautiful way of saying “pay attention and listen to what is coming next.” For this chapter, the first verse was merged into the second because it is not possible to replicate every aspect of the Quran reading experience in English.
Verse 2: God revealed the Quran in classical Arabic so its meaning would be understood by the people of the time, and to preserve the meaning for future generations to understand His message.

Verse 3: The story of Yusuf (Joseph) in the Bible goes from Genesis 37-50. The Bible version has some of the same general events, but it is very different in its details, aspects of the story, and overall message to the reader. The bible version was likely well known to the average Jew at the time of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Yet, the Quran doesn’t bend to the Bible account even in the smallest details. Rather, it simply lays out its own version of the story as the correct lost truth about the events in the life of Yusuf. 

Verse 47: In the dream the cows represent the time of abundance and the time of hunger and starvation. The second half of the king’s dream tells what should be done about it. Store the green stalks for the seven years of abundance. Then they will be dry and ready to be eaten during the seven years of famine.

Verse 50: “master” in this verse could refer to the treasurer. Meaning: Go tell the King to look into the story of the women, and the treasurer, Yusuf’s owner, knows all the details. This seems to be the natural understanding of the verse. However, it could also be understood as a reference to God.  In this case the verse would mean, “God knows the full story of what the women did.”

Verse 99: According to the Bible, Yusuf’s mother died during child birth with her son Benjamin because of a curse from her husband. Genesis 35:16-20. For this reason, some Islamic scholars interpreted this verse to refer to Yusuf’s step-mother. However, there are many details which are different between the story of Yusuf in the Quran and the Bible. The Quran tells the story from the perspective that it is providing the correct version of the story because the details were lost in history. So it seems contrary to the intent of the Quran to force an interpretation of “step-mother” onto the word “mother” simply to bring it into conformity with the Bible.

Verse 100: They probably bowed to him in the manner that was the custom of the time to show their respect and acceptance of his authority as the treasurer of Egypt. 

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Disclaimer: The focus of this site is to provide a comprehensive and deep understanding of the Quran's message, and do so in a manner that is engaging and accessible to the average reader.  Every translation involves compromises, and the content on this site is no different. However, every effort was made to capture as much of the spirit and message of the Quran as possible, relying on the most respected and accepted classical scholarly texts in the field. God willing, the material on this site can be relied upon as a solid beginning on the journey towards understanding the Quran as it was revealed in its classical Arabic. If you have a question as to why a certain verse was translated a certain way, the answer can usually be found in: Fath Al-Qadeer by Imam Al-Shawkani, or feel free to E-mail us your questions.
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1- The Opening / Al-Fatihah

2-The Cow - Part 1
2-The Cow - Part 2
2-The Cow - Part 3
2-The Cow - Part 4
2-The Cow - Part 5
2-The Cow - Part 6
2-The Cow - Part 7
12-Yusuf
18-The Cave / Al-Kahf
19-Mary Mother of Jesus / Maryam
24-The Light 35-40
29-The Spider
67-God's Kingdom / Al-Mulk
68-The Pen / Al-Qalam

69-Day of Accountability / Al-Haqqah
70-The Levels / Al-Ma'arij:
71- Noah / Nuh
72- The Jinn / Al-Jinn
73-Wrapped with Responsibility / Al-Muzzammil

74-Get out of Bed / Al-Muddaththir

75-Day of Resurrection / Al-Qiyamah

76-Humanity / Al-Insan

77-What I send / Mursalat

78-The News / An-Naba

79-The Angels Who Pull Out Your Souls / An-Naziat

80-He Frowned / Abasa

81-When the Sun Collapses and Dies / At-Takwir

82-The Tearing / Al-Infitar

83-The Cheaters / Al-Mutaffifin

84-Ripped Open / Al-Inshiqaq
85-The Constellations / Al-Buruj

86-The Brilliant Stars / At-Tariq
87-The Most High / Al-A'la
88-The Overhelming Day / Al-Ghashiyah
89-The Dawn / Al-Fajr
90-The Sacred Land of Makkah / Al-Balad
91-The Sun / Ash-Shams
92-The Night / Al-Lail
93-Morning / Ad-Duha
94-Insight and Understanding / Ash-Sharh
95-The Fig / At-Teen
96-The Clot / Al-Alaq
97-The Night of Destiny / Al-Qadr
98-Clear Evidence / Al-Bayyinah

99-The Earthquake / Al-Zalzalah
100-Running Horses /Al-Adiyat
101-Terrifying / Al-Qariah
102-Collecting Things / Al-Takathur
103-Time / Asr
104-Backbiting / Al-Humazah
105-The Elephant / Al-Feel
106-The Tribe of Quraish / Quraish
107-Small Assistance / Al-Ma'un
108-A River in Paradise Called Kauthar / Al-Kauthar
109-Those Who Reject the Truth
110-My Support / Al-Nasr
111-Twisted Braided Rope / Al-Masad
112-Pure Intention / Al-Ikhlas
113-Daybreak / Al-Falaq
114-People / Al-Nas