Yusuf’s brothers ask for permission, Ya’qub’s response, Yusuf being thrown in the well
(Surah Yusuf verses 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18)
قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا مَا لَكَ لَا تَأْمَنَّا عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَنَاصِحُونَ
They said: “O our father! Why do you not trust us with Yusuf (Joseph), – when we are indeed his well-wishers?”
Once they had their plan set out for them, the brothers began to take it to the next level. The problem they had was that Yusuf never left the company of their father, and so it would be difficult for them to kidnap him and hide his whereabouts. They said, “Why is it that you do not trust us with Yusuf though we are indeed his well-wishers?” They persistently nag him about not trusting them! This is a tactic they used as reverse psychology making Ya’qub ‘alayhissalam give in to their request. They tell him that they are well-wishers and mean no harm, even though they really intended its opposite.
أَرْسِلْهُ مَعَنَا غَدًا يَرْتَعْ وَيَلْعَبْ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ
“Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily, we will take care of him.”
They mask their horrendous plan as a mere picnic trip that they want to take their “beloved” little brother to in order that he may enjoy himself and play, and ensure their father that he will be protected by them.
قَالَ إِنِّي لَيَحْزُنُنِي أَن تَذْهَبُوا بِهِ وَأَخَافُ أَن يَأْكُلَهُ الذِّئْبُ وَأَنتُمْ عَنْهُ غَافِلُونَ
He [Ya’qub] said: “Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away. I fear lest a wolf should devour him, while you are careless of him.”
Ya’qub’s responses in this Surah tug at the heartstrings. He was a man who knew the distinction of Yusuf in the near future, thus showering him with love and mercy. His answer to them covers sadness because Yusuf is the coolness of his eyes, and it covers fear because he knows that the brothers have never been kind to Yusuf. He uses the word “الذئب” which accurately translates to “the wolf” rather than “a wolf”; he is slightly hinting to the fact that he fears their harm, rather than an actual wolf devouring him. And Allah knows best.
قَالُوا لَئِنْ أَكَلَهُ الذِّئْبُ وَنَحْنُ عُصْبَةٌ إِنَّا إِذًا لَّخَاسِرُونَ
They said: “If a wolf devours him, while we are ‘Usbah (a strong group) (to guard him), then surely in that case, we are the losers.”
The irony is that in faking his death and lying to their father, they do become losers later in the story.
فَلَمَّا ذَهَبُوا بِهِ وَأَجْمَعُوا أَن يَجْعَلُوهُ فِي غَيَابَتِ الْجُبِّ ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِ لَتُنَبِّئَنَّهُم بِأَمْرِهِمْ هَٰذَا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ
So, when they took him away, they all agreed to throw him down to the bottom of the well, and We inspired in him:”Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.”
Their intent and agreement was to throw him into the well, yet when they took him from his father, they pretended otherwise, so that his father sends him with a good heart and feeling at ease and comfortable with his decision. It was reported that Ya’qub, peace be upon him, embraced Yusuf, kissed him and supplicated to Allah for him when he sent him with his brothers. Once they left the premises in which their father could see them, they started abusing Yusuf verbally, by cursing, and harming him by beating. When they reached the well that they agreed to throw him in, they tied him with rope and lowered him down. When Yusuf would beg one of them, he would smack and curse him. When he tried to hold to the sides of the well, they struck his hand and then cut the rope when he was only half the distance from the bottom of the well. He fell into the water and was submerged. However, he was able to ascend a stone that was in the well and stood on it. (Tafsir ibn Kathir) The word “الْجُبّ” specifies a well of shallow water, so it is evident that Yusuf ‘alayhissalam survived.
It is the Sunnah of Allah to send good news to His righteous slaves in times of difficulty in order to strengthen their resolve and relieve them through His compassion and mercy. Hence, Allah reveals to Yusuf that he should not be distressed or saddened by his brothers’ actions, and that aid will come to him from Allah, who will elevate his status and raise his rank. Someday, Yusuf ‘alayhissalam will remind his brothers of their evil action against them while they will be unaware of him, nor will they be able to recognize him.
وَجَاءُوا أَبَاهُمْ عِشَاءً يَبْكُونَ
قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا إِنَّا ذَهَبْنَا نَسْتَبِقُ وَتَرَكْنَا يُوسُفَ عِندَ مَتَاعِنَا فَأَكَلَهُ الذِّئْبُ ۖ وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُؤْمِنٍ لَّنَا وَلَوْ كُنَّا صَادِقِينَ
And they came to their father in the early part of the night weeping.
They said:”O our father! We went racing with one another, and left Yusuf (Joseph) by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth.”
Allah narrates to us the deceit that Yusuf’s brothers resorted to, after they threw him to the bottom of the well. They went back to their father, during the darkness of the night, crying and showing sorrow and grief for losing Yusuf. The wisdom, or should I say lack of wisdom, in going at night is so that their father would not be able to discern the deceit on their faces and the fake show they put on for him. They started giving excuses for what happened to Yusuf, falsely claiming that they went racing and left Yusuf behind to guard their luggage, and a wolf devoured him. They tried to lessen the impact of the grave news they were delivering by using the words “Our father”, trying to trick him into believing in their false sincerity. It is as though they are saying, “You have reason not to believe in us because of the coincidence and amazing occurrence that happend.”
Here’s a list of all the tactics they use, and considering they thought they were being extremely smart and coy, these acts actually prove them to be quite the opposite:
1-They come in the darkness of night so that he cannot discern the deceit and evil on their faces
2-They start to cry, or pretend to cry
3-Their crying precedes the bad news they’re about to tell him, as though they’re preparing him for the worst
4-They use the word “Our father”, trying to soften his heart and pretend that they actually care about the brother they so easily got rid off
5-They lied about the wolf devouring Yusuf, just what Ya’qub ‘alayhissalam had feared, which is an unlikely coincidence
6-They use a sarcastic attitude with him, “You will never believe us, even if we told you the truth.”
7-They stain Yusuf’s shirt with blood, which is mentioned in the next verse:
وَجَاءُوا عَلَىٰ قَمِيصِهِ بِدَمٍ كَذِبٍ ۚ قَالَ بَلْ سَوَّلَتْ لَكُمْ أَنفُسُكُمْ أَمْرًا ۖ فَصَبْرٌ جَمِيلٌ ۖ وَاللَّهُ الْمُسْتَعَانُ عَلَىٰ مَا تَصِفُونَ
And they brought his shirt stained with false blood. He said: “Nay, but your ownselves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.”
They brought his shirt stained with false blood because:
1- It was not Yusuf’s blood- they had slaughtered an animal and stained the shirt with it
2- The shirt was not torn up
The wolf in that case must have been extremely intelligent in that he devoured Yusuf without tearing up his shirt! Obviously, Ya’qub ‘alayhissalam was intelligent and he knew they were lying, he said, “Shaitan and your evil souls and egos have come up with this lie.” He refuses their false claims and says, “I will firmly observe patience for this plot on which you agreed, until Allah relieves the distress with His aid and compassion.” He knew his kids and he acknowledged the fact that screaming and yelling at them would only make them increase in their ugly lies and deceit; therefore, he did what no parent could do without making an enormous amount of effort: he told them that he would observe “beautiful patience.” Just a few hours ago he had held his little boy Yusuf in his arms, and although he knows that Yusuf is not dead, he is still helpless. His little boy has been left out in the dark world and he does not know what may happen to him.
Once again though, he proves himself to be THE role model for all parents.
Since he can’t get them to admit their lies, he will practice what he has been commanded to in times of extreme stress and pain: patience. Patience that will suffice him against complaining to the creation, and motivate him to complain to the Creator without whom there is no power or might.
Allah says in another Surah,
فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا
So be patient, with a good patience. (Surah Al Ma’arij)
To summarize, patience is a virtue that has been mentioned over seventy times in the Quran. In Islam, patience does not mean to suffer silently, nor does it mean to complain about your misery to each and every person who is willing to hear. Patience is a plant that grows when watered and whithers when left unattended to. It takes practice to be patient; and its not an exaggeration to say that patience is one of the most beautiful and rare gifts that Allah blesses His chosen slaves with.
At this point, it is important to remember two things that will recur in the upcoming verses:
1- Yusuf ‘alayhissalam’s shirt
2-Ya’qub ‘alayhissalam’s statement, “beautiful patience”
The story has just started to unfold The first part to it is over: the brother’s have overstepped their mark, Yusuf has been thrown into the dark well and Ya’qub ‘alayhissalam is certain of their deceit. The next part will discuss the amazing protection and mercy of Allah that Yusuf ‘alayhissalam is shaded by as he makes his way through the world without any parental guidance or help.
It’s also worth mentioning that it isn’t possible for our limited human minds to extract all the gems and jewels from this amazing sea which is the Quran… and this is not even a tiny speck of the beauty in Allah’s words. A story which He labels “the best” can never get tedious or tiresome, nor will we ever be able to appreciate it the way it should be; and that is a very humbling thought. No matter how complete and perfect we may think our grasp is, and no matter how complacent we may be, the truth of the matter is that we can never, ever reach the heights of it’s beautiful eloquence.
اللهم ذكرنا منه ما نسينا و علمنا منه ما جهلنا و ارزقنا تلاوته آناء الليل و أطراف النهار على الوجه الذي يرضيك عنا
I ask Allah to remind us (from the Quran) of what we have forgotten, and teach us of what we are ignorant of, and to bestow upon us it’s recitation in the days and nights in the way that He is pleased with.
-The Sahara Bloggers (Umm Saifullah)