Patience of the Prophets
Since the dawn of time, Allah has sent prophets in all ages and to all the nations of the world. A line of prophets came, all ennobled by the Messenger of Messengers, the Beloved Muhammad (pbuh), all of whom had endured countless hardships, all of whom had experienced the greatest difficulties during their prophetic mission. All of them had to face the fiercest and most murderous enemies, who erected themselves as a metal barrier on the way of these prophets during their stay on this earth.
But all had the same feeling, the same reaction: patience, trust in Allah Ta’ala and faith. In addition to the prophets, some of their wives have had the misfortune to experience the worst difficulties too. They also showed an unshakeable patience.
Today I will relate to you a little about the sad story of Hazrat Yusuf - Joseph (as). Being a young and handsome boy, he was betrayed by his own brothers and then by the wife of the Prime Minister of the King of Egypt. Imprisoned, he lost neither hope nor patience. His father Yaqub - Jacob (as) had to suffer the worst difficulties because of the abuse caused to his beloved son. He also showed patience and guided by his faith (Iman) and the divine revelations, he relied on Allah Ta’ala. This patience led father and son to reason, victory and family reconciliation.
Indeed, Yusuf had lost his mother during his childhood. Later, when he was relatively young, his brothers ganged up against him (with the exception of his brother Benjamin, his full brother - of the same father and mother), snatched him from their father and threw him into a well in whose depths awaited for him an uncertain future. Then, caravaneers took him out from the well to make a slave out of him and they sold him later for a few cents in the slave market.
It was the prime minister and treasurer of Egypt (holding the title of Al-Aziz) who bought it. But since his settlement in the house of his master, he became the target of a series of treacherous machinations. Being nice and handsome, indeed very beautiful, he had become the object of desire of the ladies and even Zuleikha, the wife of the prime minister. She wanted to commit adultery with him. But he rejected her many advances and sought refuge with Allah. He told this woman that he would not betray her husband. He said, “He was good to me and treated me with respect.”
Vexed, she threatened to have him imprisoned if he did not give in. The truth was bound to be exposed. But despite clear evidence of the innocence of Hazrat Yusuf (as), the prime minister and his council made the decision to imprison him so that the news did not spread and to prevent any contact between Zuleikha and Hazrat Yusuf (as) until this case is forgotten. He spent many years - and as I told you before, he spent seven years - in prison with two persons. He never lost patience or faith in Allah Ta’ala.
To the companions of the prison, he showed affection, love, and taught them all the good things in life. Verses 40-41 of Chapter 12 (Yusuf) speaks volumes about this chapter of his life:
“O my two companions of the prison! Are separate lords better or Allah the One, the Supreme?
All those you worship instead of Him are mere names you and your forefathers have invented, names for which God has sent down no sanction. Authority belongs to God alone, and He orders you to worship none but Him: this is the true faith, though most people do not realize it.”
When Yusuf’s brothers came to announce the kidnapping incident (so-called kidnapping of Yusuf by a wolf) to their father, Dad did not want to believe them. He relied on Allah Ta’ala and armed himself with unparalleled patience. For he was fully convinced that the destiny of his beloved son was in the hands of the Creator (and that he was alive). But deep down, he could not contain his grief, the grief of a father. He cried hot tears night and day which made him fall ill and thereafter he lost his sight.
Although his son had disappeared many years before, Yaqub (as) did not forget him. Only patience, faith and divine revelation gave him some relief and tranquillity. One day, he ordered his sons to return to Egypt to find their brother.
They started the long journey with great difficulty because of famine and drought. At the first meeting with the lost brother but without recognizing him, they were so tired, exhausted that they were in a worse state than hungry people. Yusuf recognized them. Later on he introduced himself and told them all his misadventures. The brothers were shocked at realizing the identity and generosity and big heart of their brother, especially the fact that he was armed with unparalleled patience. Verse 91 of Chapter 12 of the Holy Quran refers to Yusuf’s patience.
They said: “Are you indeed Yusuf (Joseph)?” He said: “I am Yusuf (Joseph), and this is my brother (Benjamin). Allah has indeed been gracious to us. Verily, he who fears Allah with obedience to Him, and is patient, then indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.”
The criminal brothers became frightened, because their brother was no longer that shy young boy which they abandoned. But he was the prime minister and treasurer of Egypt. Indeed, through trials and tribulations, Joseph, like his father had found comfort and support in patience and submission to Allah Ta’ala. He realized what true patience was worth, a quality closely linked to mercy and piety. He forgave his brothers (Verse 93 of Chapter 12).
He said, “No reproach will be on you today; Allah will forgive you; and He is The Most Merciful of the merciful.”
Joseph immediately made plans to reunite the family. He asked his brothers to return to their father and tell him the news. He offered one of his shirts that Hazrat Yaqub (as) had to pass over his eyes. In doing so, he regained his sight. The whole family returned to Egypt to meet the lost and found son. When they arrived, they were surprised to learn that Yusuf had become the prime minister and treasurer of the kingdom. The Holy Quran concludes the story of Joseph with the interpretation of his dream that he had told his father when he was a child and that the Holy Quran relates in verse 5 of Chapter 12.
“O my father, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars, and also the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrate before me”.
The eleven stars were his brothers, the sun his father and the moon his father’s wife (his mother of adoption/ step-mother). Masha-Allah. All received a warm welcome from Yusuf (as). Joseph explained that his patience and faith in his Creator enabled the family to come together and live in forgiveness, trust and patience.
Moral of this story of Hazrat Yusuf (as) is that in the face of adversity and grief there is only one recourse: patience. Yusuf faced each of his trials with patience and relying totally on Allah Ta’ala. Hazrat Yuqub, his father faced with the distress of his son’s loss, also resigned himself to patience and submission to God.
The specific Surah on the life of Yusuf (as) was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at a specific period of his life. He was in great pain. He had lost his beloved wife, Khadijah and his uncle Abu Talib, two people very close to him since the beginning of his difficult mission.
The story of Hazrat Yusuf (as) is a lesson for all of us from the Islamic Ummah: patience is certainly one of the keys to paradise. While patience is bitter, its fruit is very sweet.
May Allah grant us all the gift of patience and fill us with His blessings. We need Him, His help to face the difficulties of life. Be it in moments of misfortune or happiness we need always remember Allah and thank Him for all His blessings. Ameen.
---Friday Sermon of 15 December 2017(26 Rabi’ul Awwal 1439 AH) delivered by Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir A. Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.