The Quran

Commentaries for 12.33

Yusuf (Joseph) - يوسف

12.33 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
These women said to Joseph. “Obey your mistress!” (He said) Joseph said: (O my Lord! Prison is more dear than that unto which they urge me) of adultery, (and if Thou fend not off their wiles) their scheming (from me I shall incline unto them and become of the foolish) who ignore Your blessing; it is also said that the foolish here refer to adulterers.
12.33 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
He said, ‘My Lord, prison is dearer to me than that to which they are urging me. And if You do not fend off their wiles from me, then I shall tend, I shall incline, towards them and become of the ignorant, the sinful: this is intended as a supplication, which is why God, exalted be He, then says:
12.33 Kashani - Kashani
he said, 'My Lord, prison is dearer to me than that to which they are urging me. He said 'than that to which they are urging me', and supplicated to God to fend off their wiles from him with his words and if You do not fend off their wiles from me, then I shall tend towards them and become of the ignorant, because it is in her [the soul's] nature to incline to the lower aspect and to attract the heart to herself. The occasion for drawing him [the heart] down to her [the soul] so that he never disappears and her illumination by his light and her obedience to him is an accidental matter, one that does not last, while the heart always reinforces her in her deeds since he possesses two natures and two faces. With one of them he tends towards the spirit and with the other he tends towards the soul, and he turns with one face to that one and with the other face to this one. Thus there is nothing closer to his nature than this 'tending' to her [the soul] out of his ignorance, were it not for God's protection of him by causing the upper aspect to prevail [over the lower one] and reinforcing him with the lights of the higher [angelic] council, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, once said, 'O God, make my heart stand firm upon Your religion', whereupon it was said to him, 'You say that even though you are a prophet who receives revelationsḍ' He said, 'And what security is there for me against the fact that the heart is like a feather strewn in an open expanse, the winds blowing it around in every which way!' This supplication epitomises the heart's need [for God], which [state] is ever-obligatory for it.
12.30-34 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The News reaches Women in the City, Who also plot against Yusuf
Allah states that the news of what happened between the wife of the `Aziz and Yusuf spread in the city, that is, Egypt, and people talked about it,
وَقَالَ نِسْوَةٌ فِى الْمَدِينَةِ
(And women in the city said...), such as women of chiefs and princes said, while admonishing and criticizing the wife of the `Aziz,
امْرَأَتُ الْعَزِيزِ تُرَاوِدُ فَتَـهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ
(The wife of the `Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man,), she is luring her servant to have sex with her,
قَدْ شَغَفَهَا حُبًّا
(indeed she loves him violently;), her love for him filled her heart and engulfed it,
إِنَّا لَنَرَاهَا فِى ضَلَـلٍ مُّبِينٍ
(verily, we see her in plain error.), by loving him and trying to seduce him.
فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتْ بِمَكْرِهِنَّ
(So when she heard of their accusation,) especially their statement, "indeed she loves him violently.'' Muhammad bin Ishaq commented, "They heard of Yusuf's beauty and wanted to see him, so they said these words in order to get a look at him. '' This is when,
أَرْسَلَتْ إِلَيْهِنَّ
(she sent for them), invited them to her house,
وَأَعْتَدَتْ لَهُنَّ مُتَّكَئًا
(and prepared a banquet for them.) Ibn `Abbas, Sa'id bin Jubayr, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, As-Suddi and several others commented that she prepared a sitting room which had couches, pillows to recline on and food that requires knives to cut, such as citron. This is why Allah said next,
وَءَاتَتْ كُلَّ وَاحِدَةٍ مَّنْهُنَّ سِكِّينًا
(and she gave each one of them a knife), as a part of her plan of revenge for their plot to see Yusuf,
وَقَالَتِ اخْرُجْ عَلَيْهِنَّ
(and she said to Yusuf: "Come out before them.''), for she had asked him to stay somewhere else in the house,
فَلَمَّآ
(Then, when) he went out and,
رَأَيْنَهُ أَكْبَرْنَهُ
(they saw him, they exalted him) they thought highly of him and were astonished at what they saw. They started cutting their hands in amazement at his beauty, while thinking that they were cutting the citron with their knives. Therefore, they injured their hands with the knives they were holding, according to several reports of Tafsir. Others said that after they ate and felt comfortable, and after having placed citron in front of them, giving each one of them a knife, the wife of the `Aziz asked them, "Would you like to see Yusuf'' They said, "Yes.'' So she sent for him to come in front of them and when they saw him, they started cutting their hands. She ordered him to keep coming and going, so that they saw him from all sides, and he went back in while they were still cutting their hands. When they felt the pain, they started screaming and she said to them, "You did all this from one look at him, so how can I be blamed
وَقُلْنَ حَاشَ للَّهِ مَا هَـذَا بَشَرًا إِنْ هَـذَآ إِلاَّ مَلَكٌ كَرِيمٌ
(They said: "How perfect is Allah! No man is this! This is none other than a noble angel!'') They said to her, "We do not blame you anymore after the sight that we saw.'' They never saw anyone like Yusuf before, for he, peace be upon him, was given half of all beauty. An authentic Hadith stated that the Messenger of Allah passed by Prophet Yusuf, during the Night of Isra' in the third heaven and commented,
«فَإِذَا هُوَ قَدْ أُعْطِيَ شَطْرَ الْحُسْن»
(He was given a half of all beauty.) Mujahid and others said they said: "We seek refuge from Allah,''
مَا هَـذَا بَشَرًا
(No man is this!) They said next,
إِنْ هَـذَآ إِلاَّ مَلَكٌ كَرِيمٌقَالَتْ فَذلِكُنَّ الَّذِى لُمْتُنَّنِى فِيهِ
("This is none other than a noble angel!'' She said: "This is he (the young man) about whom you did blame me...'') She said these words to them so that they excuse her behavior, for a man who looks this beautiful and perfect, is worthy of being loved, she thought. She said,
وَلَقَدْ رَاوَدتُّهُ عَن نَّفْسِهِ فَاسَتَعْصَمَ
(and I did seek to seduce him, but he refused) to obey me. Some scholars said that when the women saw Yusuf's beauty, she told them about his inner beauty that they did not know of, being chaste and beautiful from the inside and outside. She then threatened him,
وَلَئِن لَّمْ يَفْعَلْ مَآ ءَامُرُهُ لَيُسْجَنَنَّ وَلَيَكُونًا مِّن الصَّـغِرِينَ
(And now if he refuses to obey my order, he shall certainly be cast into prison, and will be one of those who are disgraced.) This is when Prophet Yusuf sought refuge with Allah from their evil and wicked plots,
قَالَ رَبِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِى إِلَيْهِ
(He said: "O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me...'') illegal sexual acts,
وَإِلاَّ تَصْرِفْ عَنِّى كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ
(Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them) Yusuf invoked Allah: If You abandon me and I am reliant on myself, then I have no power over myself, nor can I bring harm or benefit to myself, except with Your power and will. Verily, You are sought for each and everything, and our total reliance is on You Alone for each and everything. Please, do not abandon me and leave me to rely on myself, for then,
أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن منَ الْجَـهِلِينَفَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُ رَبُّهُ
("I will feel inclined towards them and be one of the ignorant.'' So his Lord answered his invocation) Yusuf, peace be upon him, was immune from error by Allah's will, and He saved him from accepting the advances of the wife of the `Aziz'. He preferred prison, rather than accept her illicit call. This indicates the best and most perfect grade in this case, for Yusuf was youthful, beautiful and full of manhood. His master's wife was calling him to herself, and she was the wife of the `Aziz of Egypt. She was also very beautiful and wealthy, as well as having a great social rank. He refused all this and preferred prison, for he feared Allah and hoped to earn His reward. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that the Messenger of Allah said,
«سَبْعَةٌ يُظِلُّهُمُ اللهُ فِي ظِلِّهِ يَوْمَ لَا ظِلَّ إِلَّا ظِلُّهُ: إِمَامٌ عَادِلٌ، وَشَابٌّ نَشَأَ فِي عِبَادَةِ اللهِ، وَرَجُلٌ قَلْبُهُ مُعَلَّقٌ بِالْمَسْجِدِ إِذَا خَرَجَ مِنْهُ حَتَّى يَعُودَ إِلَيْهِ، وَرَجُلَانِ تَحَابَّا فِي اللهِ، اجْتَمَعَا عَلَيْهِ وَتَفَرَّقَا عَلَيْهِ، وَرَجُلٌ تَصَدَّقَ بِصَدَقَةٍ فَأَخْفَاهَا حَتَّى لَا تَعْلَمَ شِمَالُهُ مَا أَنْفَقَتْ يَمِينُهُ، وَرَجُلٌ دَعَتْهُ امْرَأةٌ ذَاتُ مَنْصِبٍ وَجَمَالٍ فَقَالَ: إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللهَ، وَرَجُلٌ ذَكَرَ اللهَ خَالِيًا فَفَاضَتْ عَيْنَاه»
(Allah will give shade to seven, on the Day when there will be no shade but His: A just ruler, a youth who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, a man whose heart is attached to the Masjid, from the time he goes out of the Masjid until he gets back to it, two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only, a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given, a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for illicit intercourse with her and says: "I am afraid of Allah, and a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes are then flooded with tears.'')
12.32-34 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This open demonstration of her love and declaration of her immoral designs show that the moral condition of the higher class of the Egyptian society had declined to the lowest ebb. It is quite obvious that the women whom she had invited must have been ladies belonging to the upper most stratum of the society. The very fact that she presented her beloved before them without any hesitation in order to convince them of his beauty and youth that had urged her to fall in love with him, shows that there was nothing uncommon in this demonstration. Then these ladies did not reproach her but themselves practically demonstrated that, in those circumstances, they themselves would have done the same that she did. Above all, the hostess did not feel that it was immodest to declare openly, "No doubt, I sought to seduce him and he succeeded in escaping from me. Yet I am not going to give him up. If he will not do as I bid him, he shall be cast into prison and humbled and disgraced".
In order to grasp the full significance of this prayer of Prophet Joseph, we should try to form a mental picture of the circumstances in which he was placed at that time. In the light of this passage the picture will be something like this. "There is the handsome young man of twenty in the prime of his life, who has brought health and vigor of youth from the desert into Egypt, after passing through the ordeal of forced slavery and exile. Fortune has placed him in the house of one of the highest dignitaries in the capital of the most civilized country of the world at the time. There this handsome young man meets in the prime of life with a strange experience. The lady of the house in which he has to live day and night falls passionately in love with him and begins to tempt and seduce him. Then the fame of his beauty spreads all over the capital and the other ladies of the town also become enamored of him. Now this is the critical position. He is surrounded on all sides by hundreds of beautiful snares that have been spread to entrap and catch him unawares. All sorts of devices are employed to excite his passions and entice him: wherever he goes he encounters sin lying in ambush with all its charms and allurements and waiting for an opportune moment to make a surprise attack upon him. Such are the circumstances that are tempting him with sin, but the pious young man successfully passes through the ordeal, set for him by Satan, with the self-control that is praiseworthy indeed. But it is all the more praiseworthy that he does not feel any pride for showing such extraordinary piety in such trying and tempting circumstances. On the other hand, he very humbly invokes his Lord to protect him from those traps of sin, for he is afraid of the common human weaknesses and cries out, "My Lord, I am weak! I fear lest these temptations should over-power me, I would rather prefer imprisonment to doing such an evil thing into which they are tempting to ensnare me."
In fact, that was the most important and critical period of Prophet Joseph's training, and this hard ordeal helped to bring forth all his latent virtues of which he himself was unaware up to that time. Then he himself realized that Allah had endowed him with the high and extraordinary qualities of honesty, fidelity, piety, charity, righteousness, self-control, balance of mind, and he made full use of these when he gained power in Egypt.
Allah warded off their guile from Prophet Joseph by strengthening his character in such a way as to make ineffective all their devices to ensnare him, This also implies that Allah opened the door of prison for him in order to keep him safe from their tricks and temptations.