12 - Yusuf (Joseph)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 12.1


Alif lām rā’: God knows best what He means by these [letters]. Those, verses, are the verses of the Book, the Qur’ān (the genitive annexation carries the meaning of [partitive] min, ‘from’) that makes plain, the one that manifests truth [distinguishing it] from what is falsehood.

Ibn Al Kathir

Qualities of the Qur'an

In the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah we talked about the separate letters, Allah said,

تِلْكَ ءايَـتُ الْكِتَـبِ

(These are the verses of the Book) in reference to the Clear Qur'an that is plain and apparent, and explains, clarifies and makes known the unclear matters. Allah said next,

إِنَّآ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

(Verily, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an in order that you may understand.) The Arabic language is the most eloquent, plain, deep and expressive of the meanings that might arise in one's mind. Therefore, the most honorable Book, was revealed in the most honorable language, to the most honorable Prophet and Messenger, delivered by the most honorable angel, in the most honorable land on earth, and its revelation started during the most honorable month of the year, Ramadan. Therefore, the Qur'an is perfect in every respect. So Allah said,

نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَآ أَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَيْكَ هَـذَا الْقُرْءَانَ

(We relate unto you the best of stories through Our revelations unto you, of this Qur'an.)

Reason behind revealing Ayah (12:3)

On the reason behind revealing Ayah (12:3), Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded that `Abdullah bin `Abbas said, "They said, `O, Allah's Messenger! Why not narrate to us stories' Later on, this Ayah was revealed,

نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ

(We relate unto you the best of stories...)'' There is a Hadith that is relevant upon mentioning this honorable Ayah, which praises the Qur'an and demonstrates that it is sufficient from needing all books besides it. Imam Ahmad recorded a narration from Jabir bin `Abdullah that `Umar bin Al-Khattab came to the Prophet with a book that he took from some of the People of the Book. `Umar began reading it to the Prophet who became angry. He said,

«أَمُتَهَوِّكُونَ فِيهَا يَا ابْنَ الْخَطَّابِ؟ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ، لَقَدْ جِئْتُكُمْ بِهَا بَيْضَاءَ نَقِيَّةً، لَا تَسْأَلُوهُمْ عَنْ شَيْءٍ فَيُخْبِرُوكُمْ بِحَقَ فَتُكَذِّبُونَهُ، أَوْ بِبَاطِلٍ فَتُصَدِّقُونَهُ، وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ، لَوْ أَنَّ مُوسَى كَانَ حَيًّا مَا وَسِعَهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يَتَّبِعَنِي»

(Are you uncertain about it Ibn Al-Khattab By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! I have come to you with it white and pure. Do not ask them about anything, for they might tell you something true and you reject it, or they might tell you something false and you believe it. By the One in Whose Hand is my soul! If Musa were living, he would have no choice but to follow me.) Imam Ahmad also recorded a narration from `Abdullah bin Thabit who said, "`Umar came to Allah's Messenger and said; `O Messenger of Allah! I passed by a brother of mine from the tribe of Qurayzah, so he wrote some comprehensive statements from the Tawrah for me, should I read them to you' The face of Allah's Messenger changed with anger. So I said to him, `Don't you see the face of Allah's Messenger'' `Umar said, `We are pleased with Allah as our Lord, Islam as our religion, and Muhammad as our Messenger.' So the anger of the Prophet subsided, and he said,

«وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ، لَوْ أَصْبَحَ فِيكُمْ مُوسَى ثُمَّ اتَّبَعْتُمُوهُ وَتَرَكْتُمُونِي لَضَلَلْتُمْ، إِنَّكُمْ حَظِّي مِنَ الْأُمَمِ، وَأَنَا حَظُّكُمْ مِنَ النَّبِيِّين»

(By the One in Whose Hand is Muhammad's soul, if Musa appeared among you and you were to follow him, abandoning me, then you would have strayed. Indeed you are my share of the nations, and I am your share of the Prophets.)''


Alif lām rāÌ. Those are the verses of the Book that makes plain: [the interpretation of] this has already been mentioned.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The Arabic word (Qur`an: "to read") is originally the infinitive form of the verb When the infinitive form of a verb in Arabic is used as a name, it implies that that thing (or person) possesses the characteristics in their perfection. This Book has been named "Qur'an" to indicate that it is meant to be read by all and sundry and is to be read often and over and over again.

This does not mean that this Book has been sent down exclusively for the Arabs. What it means is only this: "Of all the people, O Arabs, you should understand the excellences of the Qur'an, which are a sure proof of its being Divine Revelation, for it is in your own language and you have no excuse to put forward that it is in a foreign language which you do not understand. "

Some people wrongly infer from this verse that this Book had been sent down for the Arabs and not for the non-Arabs; therefore, they assert, it cannot be claimed that it is the Guidance for the whole mankind. But obviously this is a frivolous objection raised by hose who do not understand its real significance. It is obvious that a book, though meant for universal guidance, will necessarily have to be put in words in some language so that the people speaking that language should understand its teachings and then become the means of conveying its guidance to other peoples. This is the only natural way of spreading the message of a movement on a universal scale.

This was to impress indirectly on the unbelievers of Makkah the fact that the Messenger did not know anything about the story of the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt, but was being informed of this by Revelation from Allah. This introduction was necessary because, as has been stated in the preface to this Surah, the disbelievers had put an abrupt question concerning this matter in order to "expose" the Holy Prophet by this test. The answer is to this effect: "Tell them, O Muhammad, that, though you did not know anything about the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt before this, you have now received a Revelation about this from Us."

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his own narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said in the explanation of the saying of Allah, Exalted is He, (Alif. Lam. Ra.): '(Alif. Lam. Ra.) Allah says: I am Allah, I see what you do and what you say. That which Muhammad (pbuh) recites unto you is My speech; it is also said that (Alif. Lam. Ra.) is an oath that Allah swore by. (These are verses of the Scripture that maketh plain) this surah, or verses of the Qur'an, expounds the lawful and unlawful, the commands and prohibitions.