Yousif (Joseph), running away from Aziz’s (Potiphar’s) wife, finally found a locked door, opened it and saw Aziz himself facing him. Yousif was shirtless, Aziz’s wife behind him, alone in a room.
When Aziz’s wife knew that she was caught, she flipped the story around. She told her husband: “He tried to rape me! He followed me into the room and tried to take me by force! What will you do now to a person who wanted harm unto your family?! Jail and punish him!”
Yousif was trying to tell Aziz that this wasn’t what happened, that he was innocent, but Aziz’s wife’s screams were louder than him.
Aziz didn’t know who to believe: his wife or Yousif, who was loyal and trustworthy for as long as he knew him.
Then a close relative of the wife stepped up. He said: “I can determine who was at fault. Bring me Yousif’s shirt. If it was torn from the front, then it was Yousif’s fault as she was defending herself. But if the shirt was torn from the back then it’s your wife’s fault, for she was trying to pull Yousif back.” He examined the shirt and saw that it was torn from the back. He told Aziz: “Unfortunately, it is your wife’s fault.”
Aziz was in a tough position. He knew it was his wife’s fault but couldn’t do anything. He didn’t want the entire country to talk about his family. He wanted to save face, save his reputation. Yousif now realized that he is going to prison, without committing a crime. The word got out that Yousif tried to rape Aziz’s wife, and that he is going to jail.
Jail at that time was like a dungeon, dark and scary. There were two other prisoners in jail with Yousif. Yousif never lost faith. He kept on trying to cheer the prisoners with him up and reminding them of Allah (God) and to never give up hope.
The two prisoners one day came up to Yousif telling him that they had this dream and asking him if he can tell them what it means. The first said: “I dreamt that I was squeezing grapes and making wine.” The other said: “I dreamt that I was carrying bread on top of my head and birds came and ate from it.”
Yousif said: “One of you will survive and leave prison and go back to his lord and serve them food and wine again. The other will be killed and his body thrown outside where birds will eat from his head.”
Then Yousif told the one who he believed will survive, he asked him to talk on his behalf when he leaves prison, maybe they might look into Yousif’s case again. But when the man did leave prison, he forgot all about Yousif and the promise he made him.
Yousif stayed many years more in jail, some say 7 years some say 10 years .. without ever committing a crime.
Then one day, the King of Egypt woke up startled from a dream. He called all his ministers and lords and everyone and asked them: “I had a frightful dream. I saw 7 fat cows and 7 thin cows. The 7 thin cows were eating the 7 fat cows. Who can tell me what that means?”
No one knew what it meant. The kings servant, while pouring wine, heard what the king said. He remembered Yousif and told the king: “I know a man who can tell you what it means.”
The king asked: “Who?”
The servant replied: “He is a prisoner and his name is Yousif. He is an honest man. He told me the meaning of a dream I had and what he said was all correct.”
The king said: “Go to him and ask him about the dream I had.”
The servant went back to the prison after years. He went in calling for Yousif and asked him what the kings dream meant.
Yousif said: “The dream means that there will be 7 years coming that will be very good to the country and everyone in it. The land will give great crops and food enough for everyone and more. The country will be very rich. Then after these 7 years, there will be 7 years that are really tough. These years will be full of drought and hunger. The land will be dead and will not grow anything. You need to be careful to save a lot in the first 7 years from the crops and goods to be ready for the next 7 years.”
When the king heard this, he realized this wasn’t a normal person who said it. The king then ordered: “Bring me this prisoner now.”
But Yousif didn’t agree to leave prison until his name was cleared. He didn’t want to leave as a pardoned guilty man when he didn’t do anything. He wanted everyone to know that he was innocent.
Yousif said: “Go back to the king and tell him I wont leave this prison until he asks the ladies who accused me to say the truth.”
The king went back and asked all the ladies who knew Yousif, Aziz’s wife among them. He asked them: “What really happened? Did Yousif really try to overtake you all and rape you?”
All the ladies said: “No by God, we never heard or saw Yousif doing anything bad.”
Then the king asked Aziz’s wife specifically: “You were the one who accused Yousif and put him in jail. What really happened?”
She finally said, after Yousif stayed in jail for many years for a crime he didn’t commit, she said: “I will now tell the truth. I was the one who called him in and wanted him. He didn’t do anything and was always telling the truth.”
The king brought Yousif to his castle, and word got out to everyone in the country that Yousif was innocent and was always truthful and that he was wrongfully improsined.
The king, seeing Yousif’s intelligence and honesty, made Yousif the country’s treasurer, in charge of all the money, food, and crops.
And just like Yousif said, they had 7 very prosperous years. Yousif being the head of treasury kept everything in order and was saving for what is to come. Then came the 7 drought years. But Egypt was ready for them under Yousif’s close leadership. The drought was devastating. It was everywhere, far around Egypt and beyond, till it reached Palestine.
Yaqoob, Yousif’s father in Palestine, heard of a just and generous man in Egypt trading with people for food, not knowing that it was his son Yousif. Yaqoob sent his 10 older kids to Egypt to trade. He kept his youngest son Benyamin with him.
The 10 reached Egypt and went to see Yousif. They didn’t recognize him but he knew them right away. He asked them about their family, and who they left behind to feed.
They said: “Our father and our younger brother Benyamin.”
He asked: “And why didn’t you come with your brother Benyamin?”
They said: “Our father doesn’t allow us to take him away from him.”
He said: “I will trade with you today. But if you come again I wont give you anything unless you come with your younger brother as well.”
He traded the things that they brought in for food. But he secretly told his servants to put back the goods they brought with them between the food sacks they took.
The boys went back to their father. They told him that the Minister in Egypt gave them food this time but said that if they came again asking to trade, they had to bring their younger brother Benyamin with them.
They told their father: “Let him come with us and we promise we will take care of him.”
Yaqoob their father said: “You want me to trust you with him? Just like I trusted you with his brother Yousif before?”
The boys then went to take out the food and found their things that they thought they traded hidden there within. They went and told their father: “This is a very generous man. He gave us food and our things back. We must go back to him again with our younger brother Benyamin so he can give us more.”
The boys kept on trying to convince their father to take their younger brother with them. He said they can take him under one condition, They had to swear in Allah’s (God’s) name, swear to Allah and their father both, that they will take care of him and bring him back safely.
They promised him and were all set to leave. Yaqoob asked his sons one last thing before they left. He told them not to enter the doors in Egypt all 11 of them at once, they should divide themselves up and go in as you never know what might happen.
The boys reached Egypt and went to the palace to see Yousif. Yousif recognized his brother Benyamin and went up tp him and hugged him.
He asked him, without the others hearing: “Do you know who I am?”
Benyamin said: “No, who are you?”
Yousif replied: “It’s me, Yousif.”
Benyamin was shocked and exclaimed: “Yousif?? My brother??”
Yousif said: “Yes!”
Benyamin asked Yousif what happened and Yousif quickly told him.
Yousif, wanting to keep his brother Benyamin with him, put some of the palace’s belongings in Benyamin’s sack. While they were leaving, a guard stopped them and accused them of stealing.
They checked their sacks one by one in front of Yousif and kept Benyamin’s one till the last. When the guards looked through it, they found the palace’s belongings in it.
The older brothers said: “This Benyamin, he always steals, just like his brother Yousif before him.”
Yousif was very hurt when he heard that accusation by his brothers against him. He said: “As the law goes, we have to keep him here now with us as he is now ours.”
The brothers tried to convince Yousif saying: “We have a very old father who wouldn’t bear it if you took Benyamin away from him. Please take any of us in his place.”
Yousif declined. The law at that time said whoever was the one who stole is the one who should stay as a servant to the person he stole from.
The older boy said: “I can’t go back and face our father without Benyamin with us. I promised I will bring him back with me. I will stay here with him till I can. Go back to our father and tell him what happened.” He told the others.
The other boys went back to their father and said: “Father, your son has stolen.”
Their father Yaqoob didn’t believe them. He asked about his oldest son, they told him he stayed behind with Benyamin.
Their father cried and said: “Inshalah Allah (God) will bring them all to me.”
He told them: “Go back to Egypt and look for my sons. Look for Yousif too, you might find him there.”
They replied: “Oh my God, you still remember Yousif?! You will kill yourself over him!”
From grief and from crying so much over his sons, Yaqoob went blind.
Then the 9 boys went back to Egypt and went to the palace again. They went back to Yousif, with their heads hanging and said: “We need your help. Our family is not doing well. We are hungry and only have some meager things to trade. Our father is now blind and we don’t know where else to go.”
Yousif said: “Do you remember what you did to your brother Yousif?”
They were all shocked and surprised. Then they looked up and saw his face clearly.
They asked: “Are you Yousif?”
He replied: “Yes and this is my brother Benyamin.”
The brothers then cried. What will happen to them now?
Yousif said: “I forgive you. I wont do anything to you. Allah (God) will judge you in the end.”
Then he took off his shirt and gave it to them and said: “Take my shirt to my father and wipe his face with it. Then by Allah’s (God’s) grace he will be able to see again. Then come back here with all your family, to my palace.
The brothers took the shirt and headed back to Palestine. Their caravan still didn’t reach home when Yaqoob their father exclaimed to the people around him: “I can smell Yousif’s smell.”
The people around him told him he was going mad.
Then the boys came in with Yousif’s shirt, wiped it on their fathers face and he could see again. Their father said: “I told you I could smell Yousif,” hugging the shirt.
All the boys cried asking Allah (God) and their father for forgiveness.
Imagine how happy Yaqoob, their father was, while traveling from Palestine to Egypt. He will finally be reunited with his son whom he lost many years ago and didn’t see grow up.
When they reached, Yousif ran and hugged both his mother and father. After that, his brothers and parents all bowed down to Yousif. Yousif then told his father: “Do you remember when I was young and I told you about my dream? That 11 planets and the sun and the moon bowed down to me? Here is my dream happening now.”
Yousif and his family all lived in comfort, happily in Yousif’s palace.
When Yousif became older and his time came, his only wish was to die a loyal servant to Allah (God), and that Allah (God) will grant him a place in Heaven with the righteous people.
Lessons we take from this is:
- Jealousy can blind people. Yousif’s own brothers wanted to kill him and get rid of him because of jealousy. Be careful of people who are jealous from you. Excelling in something and being a good person loved by many can make people jealous of you. Never underestimate what people can do because of jealousy.
- Life is not fair. Life can and will sometimes be unjust towards you. Yousif spent many years in jail for a crime he did not commit. You must have patience and wait and always ask Allah (God) to support you in the difficult times.
- Truth will prevail. Yousif waited 10 years (more or less) for the truth to come out. Never give up or lose hope. Even if you feel betrayed or sad that something is unjust. Allah (God) will help the truth to come out in the end.
- Never give up. Yousif went from being sold at a slave market to being improsined to being the head of all the treasury and money of the country. In a second, things might flip as Allah (God) can order: “Be! And there will Be.” For nothing is impossible to Allah (God).
- Forgive. Yousif forgave his brothers even after they wanted him dead and threw him inside a well. Never hold a grudge for something for it will only hurt you more than it will hurt the person who did bad unto you. Forgive, let go, and move on. Leave it to Allah (God) to judge them in judgement day. Forgive and you will feel so much better.
And always remember, Allah (God) loves you and cherishes you .. no matter what.