Prophet Sulaiman (AS)
 

Hazrat Daud (AS.) was a prophet of Allah and a king. He had nineteen sons and every one of them wanted to inherit his throne. He agreed with one of his wives to nominate their eldest son to the throne. Allah commanded him not to appoint anyone but to wait for His order.

One day, he was asked to decide in a dispute between Elia who was a cultivator and his neighbour Yohanna who was a herdsman. Elia complained that the sheep belonging to Yohanna had grazed in his cornfield and had eaten the fruits causing him a great loss.

Yohanna admitted that it had happened at night while he was asleep. By the command of Allah, Prophet Daud called all his sons and told them that whoever decided the case correctly, would be his heir.

Sulaiman, who was the youngest son, ruled that Yohanna would have to surrender to Elia the milk and the wool that he would obtain from his sheep during that year. Prophet Daud asked him how he had decided in this manner. Sulaiman replied, "The sheep did not eat the plants, but only the fruits; thus only the produce from the sheep should make up for the loss."

Allah informed Prophet Daud that the ruling given by Sulaiman was the best and he should be made his heir. Prophet Daud gathered all his sons in the presence of the learned people and chiefs of tribes and declared, by Allah's command, Sulaiman to be a prophet of Allah and his heir to the throne.

Prophet Daud died and Sulaiman became a king at the age of thirteen. Once Prophet Sulaiman said that he would have a son from each of his wives. Since he did not leave the fulfilment of his desire upon the will of Allah by saying Insha-Allah, only one of his wives bore him a child and even then it was still-born.

When Prophet Sulaiman realised his mistake, he became very sorry and asked Allah to forgive him and to grant him a kingdom which no one else would have after him. Allah accepted his prayers and granted him a mighty kingdom. He also gave him power over the jinn's, Satan's, birds, animals and the wind. They all had to obey his orders.

And He taught him the languages of every living creature on the earth. At the command of Prophet Sulaiman. they built huge temples, fortresses, towers palaces made of glass, large basins of water reserves and immovable cooking pots.

Once Prophet Sulaiman and his army of jinn's and animals were passing over the valley of the ants. Seeing the pomp and glory of the army, the chief of the ants alerted all the ants to get into their holes so that the army would not trample over them. With the help of the wind, Prophet Sulaiman heard what the chief of the ants had said. He smiled and ordered his army not to move forward until the ants had got into their holes.

He then addressed the chief of the ants, "How could my army harm you and your kind when we were passing well above you in the air? And don't you know that I am the prophet of Allah and would never hurt anyone unjustly?"

The ant replied, "O Prophet of Allah, I did not warn them because of any harm that they would suffer, but I was afraid they would forget the glory of Allah after seeing your army." Inspite of his wealth, glory and vast empire, Prophet Sulaiman remained a humble and devoted servant of Allah.

He spent his nights in prayers and fasted during the days. He used his power and might only in the way of Allah to bring mankind to the right path. For his livelihood, he used to make baskets and sell them in the market and with the money he obtained, he bought food and shared it with the poor. One day, when he was inspecting the birds, he noticed that a bird called Hudhud was not present.

He said, "Where is Hudhud? I will punish him severely if he remains absent without a good reason." Shortly after that, Hudhud arrived and told Prophet Sulaiman that he had flown over the land of Saba where he had seen a beautiful woman ruling over the people. Her name was Bilqees.

She had plenty of wealth, a strong army and a throne made of gold, diamonds and other precious stones. He saw her and the people worshipping the sun, instead of Allah. Prophet Sulaiman was very pleased with Hudhud and gave him a letter to deliver to Bilqees. Hudhud flew to the land of Saba and dropped the letter in the lap of Bilqees while she was in the palace.

When Bilqees received the letter, she called her advisors and said, "I have received an honourable letter from Sulaiman. It begins "IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL" and it reads:

"Accept Allah and worship only Him. I am His prophet, believe in what I say and accept my command."

She then asked them to advise her what she should do. They replied, "We are very strong and have a powerful army to fight against Sulaiman, but the decision is yours and we will obey your order. Bilqees was wise and decided not to fight Prophet Sulaiman. Instead, she sent him valuable gifts to see what he would do.

When the messengers of Bilqees arrived in the land of Prophet Sulaiman and saw his glory and his wealth, they were struck with wonder. They thought the gifts they had brought were worthless. Prophet Sulaiman became very angry when he was presented with the gifts and said, "What! Do you offer me wealth? What Allah has given me is more superior to all the wealth on this earth. Go back to your queen with her gifts and tell her that I will soon march to conquer her land with a huge army."

When Bilqees heard what had happened, she decided to surrender herself to Prophet Sulaiman and made preparations to go to meet him. Meanwhile, on the orders of Prophet Sulaiman, a palace of glass was built in honour of the visit of Bilqees. Even the floor was made of glass and water was put under it with different kinds of fish.

The whole floor looked like a pool of water without the glass showing on top. He then asked who could bring the throne of Bilqees to him. A jinn stepped forward and said, "I will bring the throne before you rise from your seat."

One man who was given a little spiritual knowledge by Allah, said, "I will bring it in the twinkling of an eye." When Prophet Sulaiman saw the throne before him, he praised Allah and thanked Him for His favours.

When Bilqees arrived, she was amazed to see her throne and realised what power Allah had given to Prophet Sulaiman. She then entered the palace through the courtyard whose floor was made of glass. Thinking that it was a pool of water, she raised her clothes to pass through it. When Prophet Sulaiman informed her what it was, she was overwhelmed with wonder and accepted him to be a prophet of Allah.

She said, "O Lord, I have wronged myself in worshipping the sun instead of you. I therefore give in myself with Sulaiman to You, the Lord of the worlds." Prophet Sulaiman then married Bilqees and thereafter she returned to her land where he visited her frequently.

The people of Saba who were sun-worshippers, were converted to believe in Allah and to worship none other than Him. One day, Prophet Sulaiman told his attendants that he was going to the top of his palace and no one was to enter without permission. While Prophet Sulaiman, with the staff in his hand, was viewing the kingdom around him, he saw a young man approaching him.

He was surprised and asked him, "Who are you and who gave you permission to enter the palace?" The visitor replied, "I have come in with the permission of Allah, the Owner of the universe. I am the angel of death and Allah has sent me to take your life away" Prophet Sulaiman said, "Then discharge your duty."

While Prophet Sulaiman stood leaning on his staff, his soul left him. His body remained standing for such a long time that people and the jinn's believed him to have become a god or a magician. They carried on with the work entrusted to them by Prophet Sulaiman, until Allah caused the ants to eat away the staff he was leaning on and his body fell on the ground. Prophet Sulaiman ruled for forty years and died at the age of fifty three.


Prophet Joseph (AS)



THE DREAM

One morning, when Joseph woke up and got out of bed, he was cheerful and happy. He went to Jacob, his father, and said: "O my dear father! Last night I had a wonderful dream. In my dream, I saw eleven stars, the sun and the noon prostrating themselves before me". On hearing this, his father became very happy and said: "Dear son! This dream is a true vision and shows your brilliant future. Remember not to say anything about it to your brothers, as they nay become jealous of you and plot something evil against you.

When Joseph was a small boy, his mother Rachel died and he and his brother, Benjamin, became orphans. That was why Jacob loved Joseph so much. His father's affection caused his other brothers to hate and be jealous of him. They made a plan to separate Joseph from his father, so that he may love them only.

One day, his brothers went to their father and said: "Dear father, why don't you trust us with Joseph? We want nothing but good for him. Let him come with us tomorrow to the desert, where he may play and enjoy himself. We will take good care of him." Jacob was aware of their evil thoughts and knew that they had plotted to kill him. It was the reason why they insisted on taking Joseph with them. Their father did not want to show them his fear and anxiety, so he said: "It makes me unhappy that he goes away from me and besides, I fear that a wolf might eat him while you are heedless of him". Joseph's brothers replied: "We are a brave group and accept responsibility for anything that may happen to him. We are sure that everything will be all right".

Early next morning, Joseph and his brothers left Canaan gate. They had not gone very far when his brothers became angry and rough and behaved harshly towards him. When they got to the Canaan well, they stripped Joseph of his clothing and cast him naked into the well. His wailing and his cold sighs had no effect on them. Their jealousy towards him could not stop them from doing such a crime. His merciless brothers felt relieved after throwing him into the depth of the well. They thought his father would forget him and grow to love them instead. This is what they thought, but the fate was different and God's will was done.

It was dark when his brothers returned to their father, weeping. They showed him Joseph's shirt, which they had stained with the blood of a bird. They said: "O dear father! We are sorry to tell you, what you feared and tried to prevent just happened. To tell you the truth, we were busy in a shooting race and left Joseph by himself. Suddenly a wolf attacked him and tore him to pieces. There was nothing we could do. His blood - stained shirt and our weeping eyes are good evidence that we speak the truth. You may not believe us, though we are telling the truth."

Jacob knew that they had committed a crime, and that it was God's will for Joseph. He then looked at his sons and said: "Your vicious souls, jealousy and hatred have tempted you to do evil. I will be patient and ask God's help."

While Jacob was scolding his sons, Joseph was sitting alone in the darkness of the bottom of the well. He was thinking about the future; his miserable father and his own innocence, and different things were passing through his mind. At this time, a caravan, going to Egypt and passing near the well, decided to stay there overnight. They sent a man to bring some water from the well. The man lowered his bucket into the well and then pulled it up. To his amazement, he saw a very handsome boy hanging from the bucket. The man was so glad that he shouted: "There came out a boy!" All the caravan people rushed to see Joseph and looked at him in astonishment. They decided to take Joseph with them and sell him in Egypt as a slave.

It is of course very amazing that the people in the caravan neither asked how he got there nor did they think of returning him to his family. If they had only some humane feelings, they should have thought that Joseph must have parents or some relatives, who were undoubtedly feeling anxious for him. Instead, they only thought of their own benefits. They were glad that they had found a handsome boy without any trouble, to be their slave. They only thought of selling Joseph in Egypt and getting a good price for him. They did not think of the misery of his parents.

At last, the caravan set out for Egypt, where they stayed and opened their luggage, Then they took Joseph to the slave market and sold him for a few pieces of silver. The Egyptian who bought him, was the second man of the country after the king and was called Aziz. He took Joseph home as a servant and later appointed him as head servant. Aziz treated him with kindness and respect. The servants were told to obey all Joseph's commands.

Aziz said to his wife: "Treat this young Canaanite boy kindly. I see he is wise and gentle. He may prove to be useful to us in future. We may adopt him as our son."


JOSEPH AT THE HOUSE OF AZIZ

Joseph, hadn't yet recovered from the miseries he suffered, found himself involved in another difficult situation. Aziz's wife found that Joseph had a dazzling charm. She fell in love with him. As Joseph lived in her house, anytime she looked at him, her heart skipped a beat. The more she tried to forget Joseph, the less she found she could do so. She was always thinking of Joseph and he became all her life. After all, she found no remedy for her suffering except asking Joseph for his affection. Whenever she had a chance, she exposed herself to Joseph and begged his love. Joseph who was from the house of the Prophethood and had grown up in a noble, chaste and modest family, paid no attention to her request. Aziz's wife wouldn't leave Joseph alone. The more Joseph ignored her, the more determined she was to accomplish her intention.

One day, when Joseph was alone in the mansion, Aziz's wife entered stealthily. She first closed all the doors and locked up Joseph. She asked Joseph to embrace her. Joseph, finding himself trapped, thought that it was best to escape from her. He tried to get away through the locked doors, but Aziz's wife followed him. She caught Joseph by his collar and pulled him towards her, tearing off his shirt. Just at that moment, Aziz entered the palace. He saw something that nearly made him go mad: Joseph running in front with his shirt torn off, and his wife following him, looking very distressed.

Without any embarrassment, Aziz s wife decided to change the scene to show herself innocent and Joseph guilty. She then spoke to her husband and said: "This Canaanite young man has betrayed you in your absence. He wanted to violate the chastity of your wife. Now what is the penalty for such a person but going to prison or suffering a severe torture?"

Joseph who was an honest young man, began to tell the truth: "O Aziz of Egypt! This woman asked me to involve myself in something immoral. She then pulled me towards her, but I hated it and tried to run away."

Then a witness from Aziz's household gave evidence in favour of Joseph and said: "If his shirt is torn from the front, she is speaking the truth and the boy is lying, but if it is torn from behind, then he is speaking the truth and Joseph's shirt had a tear in the backside, he knew that Joseph was not guilty. He said: "O young man, forget the matter, and say no more about it, otherwise, the people may speak bad of us." He then turned to his wife and said:

"This is the slyness of the women; you played a terrible trick. Go and ask forgiveness for your sin; you are a sinful woman."

Although Aziz tried to conceal his wife's secret, the wives of the grandees and the nobles of the city heard all about the affair, and the "Love Story" was of a great attraction at their parties and gatherings. Some of them even spoke ill of Aziz's wife and scolded her. Aziz's wife heard about the things they said. She got very upset and began to think of a plan to prevent bad things being said about her.

After a lot of thinking, she invited those ladies to a banquet at her house. The party was magnificent. All the noble ladies of Egypt were resting on comfortable cushions. Some fruits which needed peeling were served. Each lady took her knife. Just at that moment, Aziz's wife ordered Joseph to enter and pass through the party. No sooner he did so that all those women fainted and were so enchanted at seeing Joseph that they cut their hands instead of the fruits. They did not know what they were doing. They said: "Holy Allah! This is not a mortal, this is but a noble angel, appearing as a man!"

Aziz's wife who saw her plan had worked, was very happy and with a victorious smile, she said: "This is he about whom you blamed me."
"If you see him and you distinguish your hands from the orange, you can then blame Zulaikha (Aziz s wife)."
"Would that those who blamed me, could see thy face, O, sweetheart, to cut their hands instead of the orange."

"Only once you saw his face and you were so enchanted by his charm that you were unaware that you have cut your hands. Think of me who see him all the time and on different occasions. He is in my house and I see him sitting, standing, sleeping, walking, and in other positions. I have fallen in love with him. I asked him to have me, but as he was noble and a chaste boy, he refused my immoral wishes. He does his own job and with his heavenly soul, he never passes the boundaries of purity. I will ask him again, and if he does not fulfil my demands, he will be imprisoned."

Since then, Aziz's wife did everything to tame Joseph, but she was not successful. At last, she was completely disappointed. Joseph also found himself in a miserable state. He begged God to help him against the mischief of this sensual woman. Truly, he who has believed in God, will in all conditions ask Him for refuge and for help.

Joseph prayed to God and said: "O God! The situation I am involved in, is worse than suffering the horrible dark prison. If you do not save me from Aziz's wife and the other Egyptian women, I may go astray and lose my dignity and be one of the sinners." The merciful God answered Joseph's prayer and saved him from a great disaster.

JOSEPH IN PRISON

Aziz s wife who was disappointed by Joseph, complained to her husband, saying: "Joseph has made me infamous among the women of Egypt, and has disgraced me. Now, if you want my fame returned and this stain removed from my reputation, you must put him in prison."

Although Aziz had seen with his eyes the purity of Joseph, and one of his household had testified to his innocence, he sent Joseph to prison for a time, even though he was innocent.

On the day that Joseph was taken to prison, two other young men were also taken there with him. One of them was the king's butler and the other, his cook. They had been accused of intending to poison the king. The next day, the butler came to Joseph and said: "In my dream, I saw myself pressing grapes for the king". And the cook said: "I dreamt I was carrying bread on my head and the birds were eating it. Tell us what our dreams mean. We see that what you do is honest and good and your nobility is obvious."

Joseph realised that these men were ready to listen to him, so he took the chance of propagating his religion in prison and said: "Before they shall bring you food, I shall tell you its interpretation. This is what my Lord has taught me. Surely I have rejected the religion of the people who did not believe in God and denied the existence of life after death. I follow the religion of my forefathers; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is not right for us to believe that there is more than one God."

"O my fellow prisoners, can anyone prefer useless and false gods to the One Mighty God? The false gods that you and your fathers worshiped, were not true. Allah has sent down no authority for them." After showing the right way, Joseph began to interpret their dreams, and said: "O my fellow prisoners, one of you, the one who dreamt that he was making wine, will soon be freed, and will start his work in the palace. The other will be hanged and the birds will eat from his head. This is the interpretation of your dreams."

Then Joseph said to himself:" Now that the king's butler is to be freed, and will return to the king's court, it would be better to ask him to tell the king of my innocence, perchance I may be freed from prison."

Their dreams came true, exactly as Joseph had told them - the butler was saved and the cook was executed. Unfortunately, the butler forgot Joseph, after he was freed, and Joseph remained in prison for some years.

The Rescue

One morning, when the king got up, he seemed distressed by a dream he had at the night. He summoned the wise men and told them about his dream. He said: "I saw seven fat and beautiful cows coming out from the river and started grazing in the pasture. Later, seven thin and ugly cows came out from the water and ate the other seven up. Then I saw seven green ears of wheat and seven withered ones. Now interpret my dream." They thought for a while, looked at each other and as they could not find any reasonable explanation, shook their heads and said: "We don't have any interpretation for your dream. What you had, must have been a nightmare.''

The king's dream was God's way of rescuing Joseph from the prison. The forgetful butler at last remembered what Joseph had told him. He immediately went to the king and said: "O king! There is a young learned, noble, pious now in your prison who is skilful in interpreting of dreams. Allow me to go to the prison and ask him about your dream." The king allowed the butler to go to the prison. He went to Joseph and said: "O truthful Joseph, tell me about the king's dream". Then he retold the king's dream. Joseph who was God's divine prophet, had a mission to improve the people's secular life as well as their faith. He not only interpreted the king's dream, but also gave the solution to the problem. He said: "In Egypt there will be seven years of excellent harvest and then seven years of famine, and people will suffer hunger. So people should grow lots of wheat, use only as much as they need, and store the rest in the storehouses, so that it can be used in the seven years of famine.''

When the butler heard the interpretation, he went to the king quickly and explained what he had heard from Joseph. The explanation removed sorrow from the king's face. He found the interpretation of his dream logical, and realised it had come from a noble mind. The king ordered Joseph to come to the court and stay there and help him with his noble ideas. The king's men went to the prison to free Joseph, but he refused to leave, although freedom was so important for him, as he had been suffering in prison for years, deprived of seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, having had no good food or a sound sleep. In spite of all these past hardships, and the king's pardon, he still refused to leave. He said: "Go and say to the king that I won't leave the prison until he sorts out my past so that my innocence can be proved to the public, and say to the king to go and ask the noble ladies of Egypt why they cut their fingers at the party given by Aziz's wife and why they bothered me".

The king's men inevitably returned to him and told him the case. The king recalled the ladies of Egypt (whom possibly Joseph had introduced by name), and asked them about the story of cutting their hands at the party. All those women confessed and testified that Joseph was innocent. At the end, Aziz's wife also admitted that she had been wrong and Joseph has been innocent. Thus Joseph, glad to be proved truthful and honourable, left the jail.

Joseph at the Royal Court

The king was very eager to see Joseph. As soon as Joseph entered the palace, the king welcomed him and talked to him for a while and reassured him. Soon he found that Joseph was clever, noble, and intelligent. He said; "O Joseph, you have a high position among us today and you shall be entrusted with our affairs. Now choose your position." Joseph said:

"Put me in charge of production storage and consumption of the crops of Egypt, because I am able to do this job."

The king ordered his attendants to obey Joseph's commands carefully and that his orders would be the same as him. Joseph tried hard to serve the people. He knew that the Nile would be generous for some years, but suddenly it would change its mood and deprive the people of its water. So he ought to take advantage of the suitable opportunity and save the people from the hardship of the coming years of famine.

Joseph made a short trip around the country, to get a brief idea of how the agricultural situation was. He gave enough money to the farmers to cultivate different grains and increase the cultivation. He then ordered to build granaries to store the extra grain.

In the first seven years, Joseph provided the corn for people, but only as much as they needed. He left the rest in their ears and stored them in the granaries. As these stores were filled up, the seven famine years began to appear. The Nile began to dry and the land hadn't enough water for the corn to grow. But with Joseph's anticipations, no danger threatened the people, and there was more than enough corn in the granaries to feed people on.

The famine gradually extended to the neighbouring countries and up to Palestine and Canaan. Jacob and his family also suffered from the famine. Joseph as the Aziz of Egypt became well - known among nations. Everywhere they were talking about Joseph's good services to people and admired his work. Outside Egypt people said there is a learned Minister in Egypt, whose wisdom has saved the people from famine. He is a very clever and wise man. He treats people equally and gives them the corn they need, and behaves fatherly towards them.

Jacob called his sons and said: "O my sons, we are under the pressure of famine which threatens our lives. Go to the commander of Egypt whose generosity has spread throughout the kingdom, and ask him to give you some corn. But leave Benjamin with me in order that your absence may not make me too depressed". Joseph's brothers set out for Egypt on their camels to buy the necessary corn and return to Canaan.

Joseph's Brothers in Egypt

When Joseph's brothers arrived in Egypt, they went to him to buy the corn they needed. As soon as Joseph looked at them, he recognised them, but they didn't know him. For they thought that Joseph couldn't be alive now. Time had also changed Joseph's face and made it difficult to recognise him.

Joseph was very glad to see his brothers, but suddenly felt sad that his full-blood brother, Benjamin, was not among them. He received his brothers cordially and asked them to introduce themselves. His brothers said: "We were twelve brothers, all sons of Jacob. Ten of us are here and enjoying your generosity. One of our brothers stayed with our father to help him. We had another brother who has been lost for years and we have no news of him Joseph became assured that his father and brother (Benjamin) were well. He ordered his men to give them corn and to put their money which they had paid, back into their sacks. By doing this, Joseph meant that his brothers might return to Egypt sooner without spending time in Canaan. Joseph addressed them, saying: "Bring your other brother with you when you come back, so that I may know you are honest and if you don't bring him, do not come to me again, as I will give you no corn." They said: "We will talk to our father and will try to get his permission to bring our younger brother with us".

Joseph said good-bye to his brothers and they happily left for Canaan! They went to their father and said: "O father! As we had heard, we found the commander of Egypt to be noble and generous. He received us, and gave us lots of corn, but we promised him that next time we would take our brother, Benjamin, with us in order that he may be sure that we are telling the truth and that we have gone to Egypt for no other purpose than buying corn."

Jacob said: "I shall never let Benjamin go with you. Would you like him to have the same fate as Joseph? Mind your own business and leave me alone." Joseph's brothers unloaded their camels. They found that the money they paid for crops, had been returned to them. "Father!" they said, "Look at the generosity of the commander of Egypt, who didn't accept our money and secretly gave it back to us, so there is nothing to worry about. Let Benjamin come with us to Egypt. We promise to take good care of him and bring him back safely."

Jacob knew that they were in need of provisions and that they had promised to Aziz of Egypt to take their brother with them. So he unwillingly let them take their brother, but made an agreement with them: He asked them to take good care of him and bring him back safely, unless something happened that they were unable to save him. They promised in God's name and all together set out for Egypt. Jacob suggested: "O my sons! Do not enter all by the same gate." By this, perhaps the experienced father meant to keep people's evil eyes away from them, or not to draw people's attention. As a group, they might think that they were spies or thieves who had come to Egypt.

Joseph's brothers met him for the second time and introduced their brother Benjamin. Joseph, seeing his brother, became very glad and ordered his servants to provide extra food, for them all, so that they could have lunch together.

At lunch-time, Joseph took his brothers home and every two of them sat together. Benjamin who had no companion began to cry. "If my brother Joseph were alive, I wouldn't be alone." Joseph sat beside him and they ate together. When the night came, Joseph let every two brothers sleep together in a separate room and kept Benjamin with him. he said to Benjamin: "Would you like to have a brother like me instead of Joseph?" Benjamin replied:

"How can I find a brother better than you? But I am sorry, you are not from the Loins of Jacob and not from the womb of Rachel."

Tears appeared in Joseph's eyes. He hugged Benjamin and whispered to him: "I am your lost brother that you longed to meet. I have also suffered hardship from my brothers, but I have endured it. God, by His grace and mercy, has solved my problems and has raised me to a high position. Keep this secret from your brothers and we will wait for the nature to take its course."

Joseph plans to keep Benjamin with him

The banquet days were over. Joseph's brothers prepared themselves to return to Canaan, after getting their share of corn. Joseph made a plan to keep Benjamin with him. He ordered his servants to hide the golden measure, by which they measured corn, in Benjamin's baggage. The servants did as they were ordered to. The Caravan had not gone very far when a servant of Joseph shouted:

"O you Canaanites stop! You are not respectable people. You do evil for the good done to you. You have forgotten Aziz's hospitality and have stolen the king's golden measure." On hearing this, Jacob's honourable sons were astonished and said: "By God, you know well that we have come not to act corruptly in this land, neither are we thieves."

The Egyptian said: "What shall be the punishment for the one who has stolen the cup? Joseph's brothers who were sure about themselves said: "As for his punishment in anyone's sack it maybe found, let him become a bond man and your slave." Saying these words, they got down from the camels and Joseph's servants began to search their loads. They first searched the other brothers', then they found the cup in Benjamin's bag.

They were all very upset and returned to the city and went to Joseph. Joseph scolded them and said: "On the agreement made by yourselves, we will keep Benjamin here." Joseph's brothers begged him and said: "O Aziz, he has an old and weak father, who loves this boy very much. It is really difficult for him to live without his son. Take any of us instead and set him free."

Joseph said: "It is impossible to take an innocent man instead of a sinner. If we do this, we have done injustice to an oppressed." The brothers who were very angry on account of this incident, looked at Benjamin angrily and turned to Joseph and said: "No wonder he has stolen the cup, as his brother also had stolen something before".

By this, they meant the story in which they had accused Joseph of being a thief, a short account of which is as follows: When Joseph was a small boy, his mother, Rachel, died. His aunt took him to her house and took care of him. Joseph's aunt loved Joseph very much and did not want to lose him. She had a belt, and fastened it round Joseph's waist, and sent him to Jacob's house. She then claimed that Joseph had stolen the belt.

They searched Joseph's clothes and found the belt under his shirt. Then according to the rules of their religion, she took Joseph back to her house as a punishment for the theft, and demanded his labour for a certain period of time. The brothers were referring to this story. Joseph knew what they meant, but he didn't take any notice, and said to himself: "You brothers are worse than him and God is aware of what you say."

Joseph's brothers were disappointed, because he was not freed and then decided to go home. Their elder brother (Judah) said: "Have you forgotten your pledge that you should return Benjamin to your father? I shall not leave from this land until my father gives me permission or Allah makes known to me His Judgement. He is the best of judges. Return to your father and say to him: "our son committed a theft and Aziz arrested and kept him as a slave. Everybody witnessed this and we are not guilty."

Benjamin and Judah, therefore, stayed in Egypt and the other brothers returned to Canaan. Jacob was very glad to see his sons, but when he didn't find Benjamin with them, he asked about him. The brothers told him the whole story. On hearing this, Jacob fainted. When he recovered his senses, he wept much and called them liars and perjurers. He thought they might have played tricks on Benjamin, or have killed him; like they did to Joseph. He became sick with grief and his eyes lost their sight. Being in such a condition, Jacob said to his sons: "Go, my sons, and seek news, of Joseph and Benjamin and do not despair of Allah's Mercy." The brothers, for the third time, went to Egypt and went to Joseph. They said with desperation: "Aziz of Egypt, we are going through very bad times. We have brought little money. Give us some corn, and kindly free our brother. God will not forget kindness and rewards the good people a lot."

Joseph reminded them of their past: "Do you remember such a cruelty you committed to your brother Joseph? You separated him from his father and brother and burned the old man's heart. You threw him into a well."

Perhaps Joseph uttered these words in Canaanite language so that his brothers could realise that he was Joseph. They said:" Are you Joseph?" He replied: "Yes, I am Joseph and this is my full-blooded brother. Allah has been gracious to us. Those who keep away from evil and bear with patience, Allah will not withhold from them their reward."

Joseph's brothers lowered their heads in shame. They apologised and asked Joseph for pardon. Joseph said: "You are forgiven and may Allah forgive you - He is the Merciful. Take this shirt of mine and spread it over my father's face: he will recover his sight. Then return to me with all your family."

The Visit

Joseph's brothers took his shirt and quickly returned to Canaan. Their Caravan had just set out when Jacob, addressing his attendants, said: "I smell the breath of Joseph." The old father who had suffered for years crying for Joseph, now felt the breath of Joseph and told that to all who were around him. They said: "By God you are repeating your mistakes. Forget it. There is no Joseph that you may smell his breath." The Caravan, after some time reached Canaan. When the bearer of good news entered, he looked for Jacob and spread Joseph's shirt over the old prophet's face. Then Jacob's sight returned and his weak body and soul were revived. Jacob and his family, then left for Egypt with excitement, at the thought of seeing Joseph.

As soon as Joseph saw his parents, he beheld them, and tears of joy filled his eyes. He helped his parents to sit in his own couch, and they and his brothers all kneeled before God as a sign of gratitude. Then Joseph said: "O father, all this is the interpretation of my dream, which my Lord has fulfilled. He has been gracious to me. He released me from prison; gave me the key to all the granaries and brought you out of the desert and united us. All this is His Mercy for us."

What does this story convey?

An Egyptian writer says: If one is willing to absorb good morals, Joseph's story would be the best example. This story shows the reader how to stand truth and justice and how to bear difficulties. It also bears good results from the psychological point of view. If a psychologist would like to write a book on human ethics, and get all his subjects from Joseph's Sura, he has followed the right way.

Yes, you can learn many lessons from Joseph's story, some of which are stated as follows:

The story tells us that believing in God makes difficulties seem easy and sufferings bearable. As you see in the story, Joseph's belief in God solved all his problems, though he was young and every thing could be deceitful at that age. But Joseph bravely left all those difficulties behind and came out honourable.

Other point from this story is that one should take refuge in God, when faced with hardships. Just like Joseph who, at the bottom of the dark well, when exposed to the devilish demands of sensual Zulaikha and in the horrible prison took refuge in God and asked God to save him. And God the Almighty, saved him from all those dreadful incidents.

The other lesson, which is taught through this story, is that Joseph, being faced with so many problems and difficulties, didn't even for one moment forget to preach his religion. And even when his two fellow prisoners asked him an interpretation to their dreams, first he explained the importance of his religion and told them not to call anything except God, then he told them about their dreams.

Another point which must be noticed and is of great importance in human dignity and honour: Any oppressed person who has been in prison for some years, when he gets his freedom, rushes out of the prison. But Joseph, after his pardon, did not come out of the prison, until his innocence was proven to the public. So, when he was freed, his dignity remained pure in society.

We should also learn how to be patient and tolerant while reading this story. Joseph was patient against his brothers' oppression - against those mean people who took him out of the well and sold him as a slave. He resisted against sexual drives and other inclinations. So God blessed him with a high reward.

Above all, the story teaches us generosity and forgiveness. Joseph's brothers hurt him very much, undressed him, beat him, threw him into a well and left him to die. For years, he was separated from his father and brother. When his brothers afterwards humbly came to him, even though he could punish them severely, instead he forgave them and proved his humane generosity.

These were just some drops from the boundless sea of Joseph's story and the excellent results we could draw.