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Clarifying misunderstandings about Prophet Yusuf

Imran Khan

Yusuf became isolated or an alien because of his brothers.

He ended in a foreign country, living among “foreigners”.

Yusuf was sold as a slave boy who did work in the palace of a populist Egyptian ruler.

And the man from Egypt who bought him [Yusuf] said to his wife, “Make his stay [with us] honorable; he may well be of use to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” (The Ascendant Qur’an, Surat Yusuf, verse 21).

The first observation is that Yusuf is displaced from his people and homeland.

That is why, in the Qur’an there is no phrase where Yusuf says “Yaa Qawmi (O my people) …”

So those Muslims who want to rely on the narrative of Yusuf to serve in a political administration must first tell us if they are part of the social make-up or not.

If they are, then they cannot apply the circumstance of Yusuf.

In Surat Yusuf when Allah speaks about Yusuf and the rulers of Egypt, the word Pharaoh does not appear.

There are two words Aziz and Malik and not the dictatorial rulership and dictatorial description that comes with the word Pharaoh.

Azizu Misr is the very influential, popular, adored, dear, or beloved decision-maker and ruler of Egypt who Yusuf was staying with or who “adopted” Yusuf.

Azizu Misr means he’s the dear and popular one of Egypt.

“[What followed was] the women of the city saying [to one another], ‘The wife of the populist ruler …’” (The Ascendant Qur’an, Surah Yusuf, verse 30)

“And [one day] the king said …” (The Ascendant Qur’an, Surat Yusuf, verse 43).

This king knew Yusuf overcame his sexual temptations in the potential affair that could have taken place with the wife of the populist ruler.

He also knew that Yusuf could interpret visions which he had done for his prison mates and the ruler.

Then, in his personal interaction he sensed the quality and fine character of Yusuf.

Yusuf was a very mature, dependable individual who overcame his lusts.

This says something about the king himself.

He wasn’t one of those cheap personalities.

Even though there’s no indication that he was a Muslim, he had a sense of fairness and evaluation.

The second observation is that Yusuf was serving in a political administration of a populist ruler or king that sought truth and justice, not an administration characterized by oppression and injustice.

Then, we come to Yusuf’s appointment to high office.

And the king said, “Bring him [Yusuf] to me, so that I may assign him to my own person.”

And when he had spoken with him, [the king] said, “Behold, [from] this day you shall be of high standing with us, invested with all trust!” (The Ascendant Qur’an, Surat Yusuf, verse 54)

Yusuf would not have become the person in-charge of Egypt’s agriculture and resources if there was a Pharaoh in Egypt.

It was a friendly society as far as Bani Israel were concerned when Yusuf and his brothers were there.

Banu Israel were favored by the Aziz and Malik.

Yusuf was appointed to high office and had a new title, the title of Azizu Misr i.e. the very influential, popular, adored, dear, or beloved decision-maker and ruler of Egypt.

They said, “O you populist [ruler]! [We beg your] attention … (The Ascendant Qur’an, Surat Yusuf, verse 78)

[And the sons of Ya‘qub went back to Egypt and to Yusuf]; and when they presented themselves before him, they said, “O most popular and beloved one! Hardship has visited us and our folk, and so we have brought but scanty merchandise; but give us a full measure [of grain], and be charitable to us: behold, Allah rewards those who give in charity!” (The Ascendant Qur’an, Surat Yusuf, verse 88).

The third observation is that Yusuf is given a very high position in a political administration, something equivalent to a prime minister or economic and agricultural minister from where he could do justice without having to beg, solicit, lobby, campaign or curry favor for the position.

Now, when we look at those Muslims who participate in the political system claiming to be following Prophet Yusuf’s example, how many of these conditions do they fulfil?

Do they deal justice?

Or do they become self-enriching status quo preservational agents whose primary obsession is to be a career diplomat and careerist politician?

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