Zuleika (tradition)

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Zuleika Ceremony
Islamic art
painting on tiles of Mo'avin-Almamalik tekyeh, Kermanshah

Zuleika is the name given to the Biblical Potiphar's wife in Jewish and Muslim tradition, although she is only mentioned as the "wife of 'Azeez". The word 'Azeez is the Qur'an's honorific title designated for Potiphar.

Legend[edit]

The most famous tale about Zuleika is told in a Jewish legend and in the Muslim Qur'an.

Zuleika was mocked by other aristocratic Egyptian ladies, her circle of friends, for being infatuated with a Hebrew slave boy. Inviting her friends to her home, Zuleika gave them all apples and knives to slice them with. While they engaged in this task, Zuleika had Joseph walk through the room. Distracted by his handsomeness, all the ladies accidentally cut themselves with the knives, drawing blood. Zuleika then reminded her friends that she had to see Joseph every day. Following this incident, her contemporaries no longer mocked her.[1]

Great sinner or great lover[edit]

Jewish and Christian scriptural commentators have regarded Zuleika as a sinner and villainess. Notable exceptions are the great Sufi mystic poets Rumi and Hafiz. For Rumi, Zuleika's obsession with Joseph is a symptom and manifestation of the soul's great deep longing for God. This, he insists, is true of any person's deep love for another. Muslims believe that Zuleika, after many years of suffering and longing and eventually becoming a true believer, ends up marrying Prophet Joseph[citation needed].

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sefer Ha-Yashar, Vayeshev. Venice. 1625.