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Alif Lam Ra, these are the verses of the Book that is awe-inspiringly clear.
We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an, so that you might understand it.
We tell you the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur'an, seeing that you were among those who were unaware.
Joseph said to his father, "Father, I saw [in a dream] eleven stars, as well as the sun and the moon. I saw them bow before me."
[Jacob] replied, "My son, do not tell your brothers your dream, or they may plot to harm you [out of envy]. Satan is man's open enemy.
And thus Your Lord will choose you, and will teach you to interpret some events, and will perfect His grace on you and on the House of Jacob, just as He perfected it earlier upon your forefathers Abraham and Isaac. Your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise."
In [the story of] Joseph and his brothers, there are messages for all who search [for the truth].
[Joseph's brothers] said [to one another], "Joseph and his brother [Benjamin] are dearer to our father than we are, even though we are so many. Our father is clearly wrong."
[One of them said],"Kill Joseph or drive him away to some [faraway] land, so that your father's attention will be free to turn to you. After this is done, you will be [free to repent and to live once again as] righteous people."
Another of them said, "Do not kill Joseph. If you must do something, throw him into the dark depths of this well, where some caravan may pick him up."
[They agreed on this course, and] they spoke [to Jacob], "Father, why don't you trust us with Joseph, seeing as we wish him well?
Let him go out with us tomorrow, so that he may play and enjoy himself, and We will protect him well."
[Jacob] said, "The thought of you taking him away with you worries me. I am afraid a wolf may eat him at a moment when you are not paying attention."
They said, "If the wolf were to devour him when there are so many of us, we would be the real losers.
When they went away with him and decided to throw him into the dark depths of a well, We inspired him, saying, "One day, you will remind them of their deed at a time when they will least expect it."
At nightfall they returned to their father, weeping,
[and] said, "Father, we were racing with one another, and left Joseph behind with our things, and a wolf devoured him. [We know that] you will not believe us even though we are telling the truth,"
and they produced his shirt deceptively stained with blood. [Jacob] exclaimed, "Rather your souls have enticed you to something. But patience is beautiful and it is to God [alone] that I pray for strength to cope with what you are saying to me."
A caravan came, and they sent someone to draw water. He sent down his bucket into the well, [and, when he saw Joseph] he said, "Good news, there is a boy." They hid him with the intention of selling him, but God had full knowledge of everything that they were doing.
They sold him for a small price-a few pieces of silver-so little did they value him.
The man from Egypt who bought him said to his wife, "Look after him well. He may be useful to us, or we may adopt him as a son." In this way We gave Joseph a firm place on earth, and [We did this] so that We could teach him the inner meaning of things. God always prevails in His purpose, but most people do not know this.
When he reached full manhood, We gave him the ability to judge [between right and wrong], as well as knowledge; thus We reward those who do good.
The woman in whose house he was living tried to seduce him; she bolted the doors and said, "Come to me." [Joseph] answered, "God forbid! My master has been good to me. No good can come of [such a] wrong."
She desired him, and he desired her [and he would have succumbed] had he not seen evidence of his Lord's truth. We did this in order to keep evil and indecency away from him. He was truly one of Our chosen worshipers.
They both rushed to the door, and she tore his shirt from behind, and, at the door, they met her husband. She said, "What, other than prison or painful punishment, should be the reward of someone who tried to dishonor your wife?"
[Joseph] said, "It was she who tried to seduce me." A member of her household suggested that, "If his shirt has been torn from the front, then she is telling the truth and he is a liar,
but if his shirt has been torn from behind, then she is lying and he is telling the truth."
When [her husband] saw that his shirt was torn from behind, he said, "This is another instance of women's treachery. Your treachery is truly great.
Joseph, overlook this. While you, [wife,] ask forgiveness for your sin-you are greatly at fault."
Some women of the town said [to one another], "The governor's wife is trying to seduce her slave. Her love for him consumes her. We see that she is clearly lost."
When she heard about their gossip, she sent for them, and prepared a banquet for them, and handed each of them a knife. She said [to Joseph], "Come out before them." When the women saw him, they were awestruck [by his beauty] and [so flustered that] they cut their hands [with their knives], saying, "God save us. This is not a mortal man. He must be a precious angel."
She said, "Here is the one you blamed me for. I sought to seduce him, but he firmly refused. Now, if he does not do what I order, he will be put in prison and will be humiliated."
He said, "Lord, prison is more desirable to me than what these women are inviting me to do. If you do not protect me from their treachery, I might yield to their allure and so become one of the ignorant."
His Lord responded to his prayer and protected him from their treachery. He alone is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
It occurred to the governor and his household after they had seen all the signs [of Joseph's innocence] that they should imprison him for a while.
Two young men happened to go to prison at the same time as Joseph. One of them said, "I saw myself [in a dream] pressing wine." The other said, "I saw myself [in a dream] carrying bread on my head, and birds were eating it." (They said to Joseph,] "Tell us the real meaning of this. We see that you are a knowledgeable man."
[Joseph] answered, "I will inform you of the interpreted meaning of your dreams before your meal arrives, for this is [part] of the knowledge which my Lord has taught me. I have left behind the way of people who do not believe in God and who persistently deny the truth of the life to come,
and I follow the faith of my forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is not conceivable that we should ascribe divinity [to anything] beside God. Such is God's grace to us and all humanity, but most people are ungrateful.
Fellow prisoners, which is more reasonable: [belief in the existence of numerous divine] lords that are different from one another, or [in] the One God, who holds absolute power over all that exists? [:
All that you worship instead of God is nothing but [empty] names which you and your forefathers have invented, names for which God has sent down no authority. Judgment [as to what is right and what is wrong] rests with God alone, [and] He has ordered that you worship none but Him. This is the true faith, though most People do not realize it.
Fellow prisoners, [I will tell you the meaning of your dreams.] One of you will serve his master with wine to drink, but the other will be crucified, and birds will eat off of his head. [Whatever your future holds,] the matter on which you asked my opinion has been decided [by God]."
[Joseph] said to the one he knew would be saved, "Mention me to your master [when you are free]," but Satan caused him to forget to mention [Joseph] to his master, and so he remained in prison for a few [more] years.
[One day] the King said, "I saw [in a dream] seven fat cows being devoured by seven [that were] lean; and seven green spikes [of grain] and [seven] others that were dry. Noblemen, enlighten me about [the meaning of] my dream if you are able to interpret dreams." They answered,
"These are confusing dreams, and we have no deep knowledge of dream interpretation."
The prisoner who had been saved [suddenly] remembered [Joseph] after all that time, and said, "I can inform you of the real meaning of this [dream], so send me forth."
[He went to see Joseph in prison and said to him], "Truthful Joseph. Enlighten us about [the meaning of a dream in which] seven fat cows were being devoured by seven [that were] lean, and seven green spikes [of grain] and [seven] others that were dry, so that I may return [with your explanation] to the people [who sent me, and] inform them."
[Joseph] replied, "You will sow for seven years as usual, but let all [the grain] that you harvest remain [untouched] in its spikes, except for a little that you may eat.
For, after that [period of seven good years], there will be seven years of hardship, which will consume all but a little of what you stored up for them.
After that will come a year in which the people will have abundant rain and will press grapes."
[As soon as Joseph's interpretation was conveyed to him,] the King said, "Bring him before me." When the [King's] messenger came to him, [Joseph] said, "Go back to your master and ask him [first to find out the truth] about those women who cut their hands-my Lord knows all about their treachery."
[The King sent for the women, and, when they came,] he asked, "What was it that you hoped to achieve when you tried to seduce Joseph?" The women answered, "God save us. We know nothing bad of him." The wife of Joseph's former master said, "Now the truth is out. It was I who tried to seduce him. He is an honest man."
[When Joseph learned what had happened, he said, "I asked for] this so that [my former master] can know that I did not betray him behind his back. God does not guide the mischief of the treacherous.
I am not trying to absolve myself. Man's soul incites him to evil unless my Lord shows mercy. My Lord is much-forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace."
The King said, "Bring him to me. I will have him serve me personally." When he had spoken with him, [the King] said, "[From] now on you will have our trust and favor."
[Joseph] replied, "Put me in charge of the nation's store-houses. I will be a knowledgeable keeper."
We established Joseph securely in that land to live wherever he wished. We grant Our grace upon whomever We will, and We do not fail to reward those who do good.
In the eyes of those who believe and have always been mindful of Us, a reward in the life to come is a far greater good [than any reward in this world].
[After some years], Joseph's brothers came [to Egypt] and presented themselves before him, and he knew them [at once], but they did not recognize him.
When he had provided them with their provisions, he said, "[When you come here next,] bring me the brother of yours from your father's side. Have you not seen me giving generous measure and being the best of hosts?
If you do not bring him to me, you will never again receive a single measure [of grain] from me, nor will you [be allowed to] come near me."
They answered, "We will try to persuade his father to part with him, and We will do [our best]."
[Joseph] said to his servants, "Place their merchandise in their camel-packs, so that they may recognize them when they go back to their family, and be eager to return.
When they returned to their father, [Joseph's brothers] said, "Father, all grain will be withheld from us [in the future unless we bring Benjamin with us]. Send our brother with us, so that we may be given another measure. We will guard him carefully."
[Jacob] replied, "Will I trust you with him in the same way I trusted you with his brother [Joseph] before? No, but God's guardianship is better [than yours]. He is the Most Merciful to those who show mercy."
When they opened their packs, they discovered that their merchandise had been returned to them, [and] they said, "Father, what more could we desire? Here is our merchandise; it has been returned to us. [If you send Benjamin with us,] We will [again] be able to bring food for our family, and will guard our brother [well], and receive an additional camel-load of grain-an extra measure so easily achieved."
[Jacob] said, "I will not send him with you until you give me a solemn pledge, before God, that you will bring him back to me, unless you are overwhelmed [by enemies]." When they gave him their solemn pledge, [Jacob] said, "God is witness to everything we say."
He added, "My sons, do not enter [the town] through one gate, but enter through different gates. I cannot help you against the will of God. Judgment [as to what is to happen] rests with none but God. I have placed my trust in Him. Everyone who has trust [in His existence] must place their trust in Him alone." (:] Although they entered [the town] in the way their father had told them, it did not help them against the will of God, it merely satisfied a wish of Jacob's [to protect them]. He knew well what We had taught him, though most people do not.
When [the sons of Jacob] presented themselves before Joseph, he drew his brother [Benjamin] to himself, saying [to him in secret], "I am your brother, so do not be saddened by their past actions."
[Later,] when he had provided them with their provisions, he placed the [king's] drinking-cup in his brother's camel-pack. As [they were leaving the town,] a watchman called out, "People of the caravan, you are thieves."
Turning towards the man and his companions, [the brothers] asked, "What are you missing?"
They answered, "We are missing the king's cup, and he who produces it will receive a camel-load [of grain as a reward]. I [Joseph
pledge myself to this [promise]."
[The brothers] said, "By God, you must know that we have not come to commit corrupt deeds in this land, and that we have not been stealing."
[The Egyptians] said, "What will be the penalty for this [deed] if you are [proved to be] liars?"
[The brothers] replied, "The penalty will be [the enslavement of] the person in whose bag the cup is found: this is how we punish wrongdoers."
[They were brought before Joseph to be searched, and] he began with the bags of his half-brothers before the bag of his brother [Benjamin]. In the end he produced the drinking cup from his brother's bag. In this way We schemed on Joseph's behalf-if God had not so willed, he could not have detained his brother as a penalty under the king's law. We raise the rank of whomever We will, but, above everyone who is endowed with knowledge, there is One who knows everything.
[As soon as the cup was produced from Benjamin's bag, the brothers] said, "If he is a thief, then his brother was a thief before him." Joseph said to himself, without revealing his thought to them, "You are far worse in this respect, and God is fully aware of what you are saying."
They said, "Mighty governor, he has a father who is a very old man. Therefore, detain one of us instead. We can see that you are a very good man."
[Joseph] answered, "May God preserve us from [the sin of] detaining anyone other than the person on whom we found our property; that would be unjust of us."
When they lost all hope of [persuading] him, they withdrew to take counsel [among themselves]. The eldest of them said, "Do not you remember that your father took a solemn pledge from you before God, and how before that you failed with regards to Joseph? I will not depart from this land until my father gives me leave, or God passes judgment in my favor. He is the best of all judges.
[As for you others,] return to your father and say, "Father, your son has stolen [the king's cup]. We can tell you only what we saw. How could we guard against the unforeseen?
Ask in the town we were in [at the time], and the people of the caravan that we travelled with, and [you will find that] we are telling the truth."
[When they returned to their father and told him what had happened], he said, "No, your souls have enticed you to such a [terrible] thing. [As for me], patience in hard times is most godly. Perhaps God will bring them all [back] to me. He alone is All-Knowing, All-Wise."
He turned away from them and said, "Alas for Joseph," and his eyes clouded over with grief, and he was filled with sorrow.
[His sons] said, "By God. You will never stop remembering Joseph until you are totally broken, or are dead."
He answered, "It is only to God that I complain of my deep grief and sorrow. I know from God something that you do not know.
My sons, go and try to obtain some news of Joseph and his brother, and do not lose hope of God's mercy. Only the unbelievers lose hope of God's life-giving mercy."
[The sons of Jacob went back to Egypt and to Joseph], and, when they presented themselves before him, they said, "Mighty governor, hardship has afflicted us and our family, and we have brought only a little merchandise, but give us full measure [of grain] and be charitable to us. God rewards those who give in charity."
He replied, "Do you remember what you did to Joseph and his brother when you were still ignorant?"
They said, "Could it be that you are Joseph?" He said, "I am Joseph, and this is my brother. God has been gracious to us. If one is mindful of Him and patient in hard times, God does not allow the reward of those who do good to be lost."
[The brothers] said, "By God. God has certainly raised you above us, and we were sinners."
He said, "No blame will be uttered today against you. May God forgive you for your sins. He is the Most Merciful of those who are merciful.
[Now] take this shirt of mine and lay it over my father's face, and he will recover his sight. Then come [back] to me with all of your family."
As soon as the caravan [with which Jacob's sons were travelling] was on its way, their father said [to the people around him], "You may think I am senile, but I can smell Joseph."
They answered, "By God, you are still lost in that old illusion of yours."
But when the bearer of good news came [with Joseph's shirt], he laid it over his face, and he regained his sight, and said, "Did I not tell you, 'I know, from God, something that you do not know'?"
[His sons] answered, "Father, ask God to forgive us our sins. We were sinners."
He said, "I will ask my Lord to forgive you. He alone is truly forgiving, a true Purveyor of Mercy."
When they [arrived in Egypt and] presented themselves before Joseph, he drew his parent to him, saying, "Enter Egypt. If God wills, you will be secure."
He raised his parents to the highest place of honor, and they [all] fell down before him, bowing. [Joseph] said, "My father, this is the real meaning of my dream long ago, which my Lord has made come true. He was good to me when He freed me from the prison, and [when] He brought you [all to me] from the desert after Satan sowed discord between me and my brothers. My Lord is most subtle in achieving whatever He wills. He alone is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
My Lord, you have given me power, and have imparted to me some knowledge about the interpretation of dreams. Originator of the heavens and the earth, You are my protector in this world and in the life to come. Let me die as one who has surrendered himself to You, and allow me to join the righteous."
[Prophet], We now reveal to you this account of something that was beyond your knowledge. You were not with Joseph's brothers when they decided what they were going to do and schemed [against him].
However eager you may be, most people will not believe [in this revelation],
although you do not ask them for any reward for [reciting] it. It is [God's] reminder to all people.
How many signs are there in the heavens and on earth which they pass by and on which they turn their backs?
Most of them do not even believe in God without associating others with Him.
Do they have assurances that the all-enveloping punishment of God's will evade them, or that the Last Hour will not come upon them suddenly, when they least expect it?
[Prophet], Say, "This is my way: I and all who follow me call [people] to God based on the clear insight. May God be exalted in His glory! I am not one of those who associate others with Him."
[Even] before your time, We never sent [as Our Messengers] anyone except [mortal] men, whom We inspired, [and whom We always chose] from among the people of the [very] communities [to whom the message was to be brought]. Have the [unbelievers] not travelled through the land and seen the end of those who went before them? Those who are mindful of God prefer the life to come. Do you [people] not use your reason?
[All the earlier messengers had to suffer persecution for a long time,] but, at last, when those messengers had lost all hope and saw themselves branded as liars, Our help came to them. We saved whomever We pleased, but Our punishment will not be turned away from those who force others to reject God's messages.
In the stories of these men, there is a lesson for those who understand. [As for this Qur'an], it could not possibly be a discourse invented [by the Prophet]. No, it is a confirmation of what is available to him from prior revelations, clearly spelling out everything, and [offering] guidance and mercy to people who will believe.