Yusuf (sura)

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Classification Makkan
Meaning of the name Joseph
Sura number 12
Number of verses 111
Juz' number 12 to 13
Hizb number 24 to 25
Number of Sajdahs none
Previous Sura Hud
Next Sura Ar-Ra'd

Surah Yusuf was revealed all at once unlike other surahs and is unique in this way.[1] Unlike other prophets mentioned in the Quran, the prophet Yusuf's story is only mentioned in this specific sura. Usually, the surahs in the Quran hold several themes in one passage, but Surah Yusuf holds one central theme. It focuses on the main timeline, and is a continuous story, put together in chronological order. With text covering fifteen pages, this story is a distinct excerpt from the Quran, and holds many valuable themes and lessons.[2]

The chapter was translated by Thomas van Erpe in 1617 and then publishing in both Arabic and Latin during Lutheran efforts at translating the Qur'an in the 17th century.[3]

Sample verses[edit]

Quran 12:1–7[edit]

Arab text: (bismillah) بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

الر ۚ تِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ ﴿١﴾ إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿٢﴾ نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الْغَافِلِينَ ﴿٣﴾ إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ ﴿٤﴾ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تَقْصُصْ رُؤْيَاكَ عَلَىٰ إِخْوَتِكَ فَيَكِيدُوا لَكَ كَيْدًا ۖ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لِلْإِنْسَانِ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ ﴿٥﴾ وَكَذَٰلِكَ يَجْتَبِيكَ رَبُّكَ وَيُعَلِّمُكَ مِنْ تَأْوِيلِ الْأَحَادِيثِ وَيُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ آلِ يَعْقُوبَ كَمَا أَتَمَّهَا عَلَىٰ أَبَوَيْكَ مِنْ قَبْلُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ ﴿٦﴾ ۞ لَقَدْ كَانَ فِي يُوسُفَ وَإِخْوَتِهِ آيَاتٌ لِلسَّائِلِينَ ﴿٧﴾

English, Sahih International:
"Alif, Lam, Ra. These are the verses of the clear Book.

  1. Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an that you might understand
  2. We relate to you, [O Muúammad], the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur'an although you were, before it, among the unaware.
  3. [Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, "O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me."
  4. He said, "O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy.
  5. And thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of narratives and complete His favor upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He completed it upon your fathers before, Abraham and Isaac. Indeed, your Lord is Knowing and Wise."
  6. Certainly were there in Joseph and his brothers signs for those who ask."

The Story of Yusuf[edit]

The story of Yusuf (Sura) is about the prophet Yusuf, translated in English as Joseph. Yusuf is one of the sons of Ya'qub (known as Jacob in the English translation) who has the talent of interpreting dreams. One day Yusuf has a dream and he narrates his dream to his father who immediately knows that Yusuf will be a prophet. His father tells him not to tell his brothers to avoid any harm. However, because of Ya'qub's loving treatment towards Yusuf, Yusuf's brothers felt jealous. They wanted to get rid of Yusuf, so their father could love them instead of Yusuf. Their initial plan was to kill Yusuf, but later they decided to throw him in a well. They lied to their father and told him that a wolf had killed him. Later, a caravan rescued Yusuf from the well, who then sold him to a man in Egypt. The man took Yusuf in and was hoping to have him as a son. Later, the man's wife tries to seduce Yusuf, but he resists. The woman seeing his resistance accuses Yusuf of wanting to harm her and demands that he should either be punished severely or sent to jail. Yusuf is sent to jail.

In the prison, Yusuf met two other men and interprets one of the prisoner's dreams. The prisoner is then released and Yusuf asked the prisoner to mention his talent to the king. One day, the King had a dream, and the prisoners who had been released mention Yusuf. He interprets the King's dream, which is about Egypt having a seven-year drought. To reward him, the King requests his release from jail and the King also investigates his case. The wife who tried to seduce Yusuf testifies that he was innocent, and the truth unveils. Yusuf is given authority in Egypt.

During the seven-year drought, Yusuf's brothers visit Egypt to get food for their family. Upon seeing his brothers, Yusuf recognizes them though they did not recognize him.[4] Yusuf, in a high position of authority, requests that the next time they come, they bring their youngest brother Benjamin or benyameen with them. When the brothers returned with their youngest brother, Yusuf takes him aside and tells him his identity. Yusuf plots a theft case where his youngest brother is found guilty of theft when he is truly innocent and is detained from his family, so he could stay with him. Later, when the father and brothers face poverty they come back to Yusuf and Yusuf then helps them and reveals his identity asking them to come and live with him.[5]


There is no confirmed time when surat Yusuf was revealed, but it is estimated to be either in the 10th or 11th year of dawah. In other words, it is known to have been revealed 2 or 3 years before hijrah (Migration) from Makkah to Madina which is close to the end of the Makkan era and Makkan journey. This Sura was revealed after a year the scholars of seerah call 'am al huzun' (the year of Sorrow or Despair). This year was a sad and depressing time for Mohammad. He was going through several hardships and three of those are the most significant. The first one is his uncle's death, Abu Talib. Abu Talib was the only father figure he had left and he was one of the people who protected him from the harms of society. The second tragedy would come with his beloved first wife, Khadijah's death. She was the first to believe in his message and she was his comfort. The two deaths were a significant loss to him as they were the people in his life that motivated and protected him through his journey. Later on in Makkah after his uncle's death, the pagans made him face excessive hardships while he tried to call the people to Islam. Expecting a better reply from the city of Taaif, Muhammad departs Makkah. However, to his disappointment the people of Taaif did not welcome him, gave him a hard time and chased him out of the city by throwing rocks at him. He was injured, bleeding and left with nothing but disappointment from the people of Taaif. This sura was meant to uplift his spirits and comfort him in his time of dejection.[6]

Other findings[edit]

Along with the three crucial events that marked the revelation for Muhammad, scholars have mentioned other incidents that led to the revelation of the sura. The Quraysh wanted to test Muhammad, as they were in disbelief of his knowledge and spiritual capabilities. They did not believe him to be a prophet and planned to trick him by asking a question that only a true prophet would be able to answer. The story of Yusuf and his brothers, was one that was not heard of, as the people of Makkeh held no knowledge of this story.[7] Also translated as Joseph (son of Jacob) it was known to the Christian and Jewish cultures and not heard of by the Quraysh. To recite this story would show true prophecy, but people had no faith that Muhammad would possess this gift. When Muhammad was questioned, he revealed through his revelation all his knowledge about the untold story.[8] Following the hardships faced within the city of Makkah, the story of Yusuf was later revealed to uplift people's spirits. They questioned, "O messenger of Allah, why don't you tell us the stories of those before us who also suffered?" [9] This was a time of abrupt chaos as the Muslims were being persecuted and later forced to leave. This posed as the second conclusion to the revelation, as Muhammad's story represented spiritual guidance and hope.

Major themes in Sura Yusuf[edit]

The faith of the Prophets[edit]

The faiths of the Prophets before Muhammad were the same as his. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaaq (Isaac), Ya'qoob (Jacob) and Yusuf (Joseph) invited the people to the same message as Muhammad.[10]

Character of a Muslim[edit]

  • Has awareness of Allah and accountability of one's deeds
  • Pursues one's goals while remaining under the limits prescribed by the Divine Law
  • Believes that success and failure are entirely in the hands of God, whatever Allah wills happens and no one can prevent it
  • Applies their efforts towards the truth and puts one's trust in Allah [11]

Confidence and courage[edit]

Through the story of Yusuf, Allah taught the believers that a person who possesses true Islamic character can master the world with the strength of their character. The example of the Prophet Yusuf shows that a person of high and pure character can overcome severe circumstances and be successful.[12]

Objectives of this Surah[edit]

  1. To provide proof that Muhammad's Prophethood, and his knowledge is not based on unsubstantiated information, rather but was gained through revelation.
  1. It applies the theme of the story to the people of Quraysh (The tribe of the leaders in Makah) and warns that the conflict between them and the Prophet would end in his victory over them. As stated in verse 7: "Indeed there are signs in this story of Yusuf and his brothers for the inquirers (from among the Quraysh)"[13]


  1. ^ Deris, SM. "Surah Yusuf: The Story That Brings Comfort (Part 1 of 5)". Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Qadhi, Yasir. "The Best of Stories: Pearls from Surah Yusuf | Part 1". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Alastair Hamilton, "A Lutheran Translator for the Qur'an: A Late Seventeenth-Century Quest". Taken from The Republic of Letters And the Levant, p. 197. Eds. Alastair Hamilton, Maurits H. Van Den Boogert and Bart Westerweel. Volume 5 of Intersections. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2005. ISBN 9789004147614
  4. ^ "Surah Yusuf (Joseph) in English Translation". 
  5. ^ "PROPHET Joseph(YUSUF) (peace be upon him)". Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Qadhi, Yasir. "The Best of Stories: Pearls from Surah Yusuf | Part 1". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Qadhi, Yasir. "The Best of Stories: Pearls from Surah Yusuf | Part 1". Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "Yusuf". Profile of the Sura. Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "Knowledge of tawheed". Retrieved 28 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Malik, Muhammad (1997). English Translation of the Meaning of Al-Quran: The Guidance for Mankind. Houston: Texas: The Institute of Islamic Knowledge. pp. 340–354. ISBN 0 911119 80 9. 
  11. ^ Malik, Muhammad (1997). English Translation of the Meaning of Al-Quran: The Guidance for Mankind. Houston: Texas: The Institute of Islamic Knowledge. pp. 340–354. ISBN 0 911119 80 9. 
  12. ^ Malik, Muhammad (1997). English Translation of the Meaning of Al-Quran: The Guidance for Mankind. Houston: Texas: The Institute of Islamic Knowledge. pp. 340–354. ISBN 0 911119 80 9. 
  13. ^ Malik, Muhammad (1997). English Translation of the Meaning of Al-Quran: The Guidance for Mankind. Houston: Texas: The Institute of Islamic Knowledge. pp. 340–354. ISBN 0 911119 80 9. 

External links[edit]

  • Surah Yusuf (Complete text in Arabic with English and French translations)
  • Quran Yusuf with Translation

Other information[edit]

Previous sura:
Sura 12 Next sura:
Arabic text

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · 6 · 7 · 8 · 9 · 10 · 11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20 · 21 · 22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26 · 27 · 28 · 29 · 30 · 31 · 32 · 33 · 34 · 35 · 36 · 37 · 38 · 39 · 40 · 41 · 42 · 43 · 44 · 45 · 46 · 47 · 48 · 49 · 50 · 51 · 52 · 53 · 54 · 55 · 56 · 57 · 58 · 59 · 60 · 61 · 62 · 63 · 64 · 65 · 66 · 67 · 68 · 69 · 70 · 71 · 72 · 73 · 74 · 75 · 76 · 77 · 78 · 79 · 80 · 81 · 82 · 83 · 84 · 85 · 86 · 87 · 88 · 89 · 90 · 91 · 92 · 93 · 94 · 95 · 96 · 97 · 98 · 99 · 100 · 101 · 102 · 103 · 104 · 105 · 106 · 107 · 108 · 109 · 110 · 111 · 112 · 113 · 114

Arabic text from Wikisource