Surah Yusuf (Joseph) 12 : 42

وَقَالَ لِلَّذِى ظَنَّ أَنَّهُۥ نَاجٍ مِّنْهُمَا ٱذْكُرْنِى عِندَ رَبِّكَ فَأَنسَىٰهُ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنُ ذِكْرَ رَبِّهِۦ فَلَبِثَ فِى ٱلسِّجْنِ بِضْعَ سِنِينَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
And he said to the one whom he knew would go free, "Mention me before your master." But Satan made him forget the mention [to] his master, and he [i.e., Joseph] remained in prison several years.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

Joseph  was  an  innocent  prisoner,  jailed  on  the  strength  of  false  accusations, without any proper investigation of his case. It may be that the incident of the Chief Minister’s wife and the other women was portrayed to the King in a way that totally misrepresented the facts, as often happens in such cases. It was only natural then that Joseph wanted his case to be put to the King in the hope that he would order that it be looked into properly. Hence, Joseph “said to the one whom he believed would be released: ‘Remember me in the presence of your lord.’“ (Verse 42) He actually asked him to mention his case and situation to the King and to tell him of the truth he had seen in him. He describes him as his lord because he was the ruler to whom he submitted. The term ‘lord’ here means ‘master, ruler, a person of acknowledged authority and a legislator’. This re-emphasizes the meaning of lordship in Islamic terminology.
 
At this point, the sūrah leaves out mentioning that the two prisoners’ dreams came true in exactly the manner Joseph described. There is a gap here, as well as an implication that it is sufficient for us to know that all this took place. The prisoner whom Joseph felt would be released was actually released, but he did not act on what Joseph requested. He forgot all the lessons that Joseph had taught him. He forgot to remember his true Lord as he was distracted by the demands of life in the palace after he returned there. Indeed, he forgot all about Joseph: “But Satan caused him to forget to mention Joseph to his lord, and so he remained in prison for several years.” (Verse 42)

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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The subject matter of this Surah indicates that it was revealed during the last stage of the Prophet’s residence at Makkah when the Quraysh were considering the question of killing, exiling or imprisoning him. At that time, some of the disbelievers asked a question to test his claim to prophethood: “Why did the Israelites go to Egypt?” They knew that the story was not known to the Arabs, since there was no mention of it in their traditions, and the Prophet had never referred to any knowledge of it in the past. Therefore they expected that he would not be able to give a satisfactory answer or would evade it and enquire about it from the Jews, which would expose him as a fraud. Contrary to their expectations, God revealed the whole story of Prophet Joseph and the Prophet recited it on the spot. This put the Quraysh in a very awkward position because it not only foiled their scheme but also cautioned them to consider their behaviour and compare it to the treachery displayed by the brothers of Prophet Joseph.

The fact is that by applying this story to the conflict, the Qur’an had made a bold and clear prophecy which was fulfilled literally by the events that happened in the succeeding ten years. Hardly two years had passed after its revelation when the Quraysh conspired to kill the Prophet like the brothers of Prophet Joseph and he had to emigrate from Makkah to Madinah where he gained the same kind of power as Prophet Joseph had gained in Egypt. Again in the end the Quraysh had to humble themselves before him just like the brothers of Prophet Joseph when they humbly requested ‘Show mercy to us for God rewards richly those who show mercy’ (v. 88) and Prophet Joseph generously forgave them (even though he had complete power to wreak vengeance on them) saying ‘today no penalty shall be inflicted on you. May God forgive you: He is the greatest of all those who forgive’ (v. 92). The same story of mercy was repeated when after the conquest of Makkah the fallen Quraysh stood meekly before the Prophet who had the power to inflict vengeance on them for their cruelty towards him. But instead he merely asked them ‘What treatment do you expect from me now?’ They replied ‘You are a generous brother and the son of a generous brother’. At this he very generously forgave them, saying ‘I will give the same answer to your request that Joseph gave to his brothers: ‘. . . 'today no penalty shall be inflicted on you, you are forgiven.’

8. Reasons for Revelation

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Qurtubi mentions that the Jews asked the Prophet about the story of Yusuf and hence this surah was revealed.

9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

12. External Links

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