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The Holy Quran, tr. by Yusuf Ali, [1934], at

p. 550

Sūra XII.

Yūsuf, or Joseph.

In the name of God, Most Gracious,
Most Merciful.

1. A. L. R. These are
The Symbols (or Verses)
Of the Perspicuous Book.

2. We have sent it down
As an Arabic Qur-ān,
In order that ye may
Learn wisdom.

3. We do relate unto thee
The most beautiful of stories,
In that We reveal to thee
This (portion of the) Qur-ān:
Before this, thou too
Was among those
Who knew it not.

4. Behold, Joseph said
To his father: "O my father!

p. 551

I did see eleven stars
And the sun and the moon:
I saw them prostrate themselves
To me!"

5. Said (the father):
"My (dear) little son!
Relate not thy vision
To thy brothers, lest they
Concoct a plot against thee:
For Satan is to man
An avowed enemy!

6. "Thus will thy Lord
Choose thee and teach thee
The interpretation of stories (and events)
And perfect His favour
To thee and to the posterity
Of Jacob—even as He
Perfected it to thy fathers
Abraham and Isaac aforetime!
For God is full of knowledge
And wisdom."


7. Verily in Joseph and his brethren
Are Signs (or Symbols)

p. 552

For Seekers (after Truth).

8. They said: "Truly Joseph
And his brother are loved
More by our father than we:
But we are a goodly body!
Really our father is obviously
Wandering (in his mind)!

9. "Slay ye Joseph or cast him out
To some (unknown) land,
That so the favour
Of your father may be
Given to you alone:
(There will be time enough)
For you to be righteous after that!"

10. Said one of them: "Slay not
Joseph, but if ye must
Do something, throw him down
To the bottom of the well:
He will be picked up
By some caravan of travellers."

p. 553

11. They said: "O our father!
Why dost thou not
Trust us with Joseph,
Seeing we are indeed
His sincere well-wishers?

12. "Send him with us tomorrow
To enjoy himself and play,
And we shall take
Every care of him."

13. (Jacob) said: "Really
It saddens me that ye
Should take him away:
I fear lest the wolf
Should devour him
While ye attend not
To him."

14. They said: "If the wolf
Were to devour him
While we are (so large) a party,
Then should we indeed
(First) have perished ourselves!"

15. So they did take him away,
And they all agreed

p. 554

To throw him down
To the bottom of the well:
And We put into his heart
(This Message): "Of a surety
Thou shalt (one day)
Tell them the truth
Of this their affair
While they know (thee) not"

16. Then they came
To their father
In the early part
Of the night,

17. They said: "O our father!
We went racing with one another,
And left Joseph with our things;
And the wolf devoured him.…
But thou wilt never believe us
Even though we tell the truth.

18. They stained his shirt
With false blood. He said:

p. 555

"Nay, but your minds
Have made up a tale
(That may pass) with you.
(For me) patience is most fitting:
Against that which ye assert,
It is God (alone)
Whose help can be sought"…

19. Then there came a caravan
Of travellers: they sent
Their water-carrier (for water),
And he let down his bucket
(Into the well)… He said:
"Ah there! Good news!
Here is a (fine) young man!"
So they concealed him
As a treasure! But God
Knoweth well all that they do!

20. The (Brethren) sold him
For a miserable price,—

p. 556

For a few dirhams counted out:
In such low estimation
Did they hold him!


21. The man in Egypt
Who bought him, said

p. 557

To his wife: "Make his stay
(Among us) honourable:
Maybe he will bring us
Much good, or we shall
Adopt him as a son."
Thus did We establish
Joseph in the land,
That We might teach him
The interpretation of stories
(And events). And God
Hath full power and control
Over His affairs; but most
Among mankind know it not.

22. When Joseph attained
His full manhood, We gave him

p. 558

Power and knowledge: thus do We
Reward those who do right.

23. But she in whose house
He was, sought to seduce him
From his (true) self: she fastened
The doors, and said:
"Now come, thou (dear one)!"
He said: "God forbid!
Truly (thy husband) is
My lord! he made
My sojourn agreeable!
Truly to no good
Come those who do wrong!"

24. And (with passion) did she
Desire him, and he would
Have desired her, but that
He saw the evidence
Of his Lord: thus
(Did We order) that We
Might turn away from him
(All) evil and shameful deeds:

p. 559

For he was one of Our servants,
Sincere and purified.

25. So they both raced each other
To the door, and she
Tore his shirt from the back:
They both found her lord
Near the door. She said:
"What is the (fitting) punishment
For one who formed
An evil design against
Thy wife, but prison
Or a grievous chastisement?"

26. He said: "It was she
That sought to seduce me—
From my (true) self." And one
Of her household saw (this)
And bore witness, (thus):—
"If it be that his shirt
Is rent from the front, then
Is her tale true,
And he is a liar!

27. "But if it be that his shirt
Is torn from the back,

p. 560

Then is she the liar,
And he is telling the truth!"

28. So when he saw his shirt,—
That it was torn at the back,
(Her husband) said: "Behold!
It is a snare of you women!
Truly, mighty is your snare!

29. "O Joseph, pass this over!
(O wife), ask forgiveness
For thy sin, for truly
Thou hast been at fault!"


30. Ladies said in the City:
"The wife of the (great) ’Aziz
Is seeking to seduce her slave
From his (true) self:
Truly hath he inspired her
With violent love: we see
She is evidently going astray."

p. 561

31. When she heard
Of their malicious talk,
She sent for them
And prepared a banquet
For them: she gave
Each of them a knife:
And she said (to Joseph),
"Come out before them."
When they saw him,
Thy did extol him,
And (in their amazement)
Cut their hands: they said,
"God preserve us! no mortal
Is this! This is none other
Than a noble angel!"

32. She said: "There before you
Is the man about whom
Ye did blame me!
I did seek to seduce him from
His (true) self but he did
Firmly save himself guiltless!…
And now, if he doth not
My bidding, he shall certainly
Be cast into prison,
And (what is more)
Be of the company of the vilest!"

p. 562

33. He said: "O my Lord!
The prison is more
To my liking than that
To which they invite me:
Unless Thou turn away
Their snare from me,
I should (in my youthful folly)
Feel inclined towards them
And join the ranks of the ignorant."

34. So his Lord hearkened to him
(In his prayer), and turned
Away from him their snare:
Verily He heareth and knoweth
(All things).

35. Then it occurred to the men,
After they had seen the Signs,
(That it was best)
To Imprison him
For a time.

p. 563


36. Now with him there came
Into the prison two young men.
Said one of them: "I see
Myself (in a dream)
Pressing wine." Said the other:
"I see myself (in a dream)
Carrying bread on my head,
And birds are eating thereof."
"Tell us" (they said) "the truth
And meaning thereof: for we
See thou art one
That doth good (to all)."

37. He said: "Before any food
Comes (in due course)
To feed either of you,
I will surely reveal
To you the truth
And meaning of this
Ere it befall you
That is part of the (Duty)
Which my Lord hath taught me.
I have (I assure you)

p. 564

Abandoned the ways
Of a people that believe not
In God and that (even)
Deny the Hereafter.

38. "And I follow the ways
Of my fathers,—Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob; and never
Could we attribute any partners
Whatever to God: that (comes)
Of the grace of God to us
And to mankind: yet
Most men are not grateful

39. "O my two companions.
Of the prison! (I ask you):
Are many lords differing
Among themselves better,
Or the One God,
Supreme and Irresistible?

40. "If not Him, ye worship nothing
But names which ye have named,—
Ye and your fathers,—
For which God hath sent down
No authority: the Command
Is for none but God: He

p. 565

Hath commanded that ye worship
None but Him: that is
The right religion, but
Most men understand not…

41. "O my two companions
Of the prison! As to one
Of you, he will pour out
The wine for his lord to drink:
As for the other, he will
Hang from the cross, and the birds
Will eat from off his head.
(So) hath been decreed
That matter whereof
Ye twain do enquire"…

42. And of the two,
To that one whom he considered
About to be saved, he said:
"Mention me to thy lord."

p. 566

But Satan made him forget
To mention him to his lord:
And (Joseph) lingered in prison
A few (more) years.


43. The king (of Egypt) said:
"I do see (in a vision)
Seven fat kine, whom seven
Lean ones devour,—and seven
Green ears of corn, and seven (others)
Withered. O ye chiefs!
Expound to me my vision
If it be that ye can
Interpret visions."

p. 567

44. They said: "A confused medley
Of dreams: and we are not
Skilled in the interpretation
Of dreams."

45. But the man who had been
Released, one of the two
(Who had been in prison)
And who now bethought him
After (so long) a space of time,
Said: "I will tell you
The truth of its interpretation:
Send ye me (therefor)."

46."O Joseph!" (he said).
"O man of truth! Expound
To us (the dream)
Of seven fat kine
Whom seven lean ones
Devour, and of seven
Green ears of corn
And (seven) others withered:
That I may return
To the people, and that
They may understand."

47. (Joseph) said: "For seven years
Shall ye diligently sow

p. 568

As is your wont:
And the harvests that ye reap,
Ye shall leave them in the ear,—
Except a little, of which
Ye shall eat.

48. "Then will come
After that (period)
Seven dreadful (years),
Which will devour
What ye shall have laid by
In advance for them,—
(All) except a little
Which ye shall have
(Specially) guarded.

49. "Then will come
After that (period) a year
In which the people will have
Abundant water, and in which
They will press (wine and oil)."

p. 569


50. So the king said:
"Bring ye him unto me."
But when the messenger
Came to him, (Joseph) said:
"Go thou back to thy lord,
And ask him, "What is
The state of mind
Of the ladies
Who cut their hands?"
For my Lord is
Certainly well aware
Of their snare."

51. (The king) said (to the ladies):
"What was your affair
When ye did seek to seduce
Joseph from his (true) self?"
The ladies said: "God
Preserve us! no evil

p. 570

Know we against him!"
Said the ’Azīz's wife:
"Now is the truth manifest
(To all): it was I
Who sought to seduce him
From his (true) self:
He is indeed of those
Who are (ever) true (and virtuous).

52. "This (say I), in order that
He may know that I
Have never been false
To him in his absence,
And that God will never
Guide the snare of the false ones.

p. 571

53. "Nor do I absolve my own self
(Of blame): the (human) soul
Is certainly prone to evil,
Unless my Lord do bestow
His Mercy: but surely
My Lord is Oft-Forgiving,
Most Merciful."

54. So the king said:
"Bring him unto me;
I will take him specially
To serve about my own person."
Therefore when he had spoken
To him, he said:
"Be assured this day,
Thou art, before our own Presence,
With rank firmly established,
And fidelity fully proved!

55. (Joseph) said: "Set me
Over the store-houses
Of the land: I will
Indeed guard them,

p. 572

As one that knows
(Their importance)."

56. "Thus did we give
Established power to Joseph
In the land, to take possession
Therein as, when, or where
He pleased. We bestow
Of Our mercy on whom
We please, and We suffer not,
To be lost, the reward
Of those who do good.

57. But verily the reward
Of the Hereafter
Is the best, for those
Who believe, and are constant
In righteousness.


58. Then came Joseph's brethren:
They entered his presence,
And he knew them,
But they knew him not.

p. 573

59. And when he had furnished
Them forth with provisions
(Suitable) for them, he said:
"Bring unto me a brother
Ye have, of the same father
As yourselves, (but a different mother):
See ye not that I pay out
Full measure, and that I
Do provide the best hospitality?

60. "Now if ye bring him not
To me, ye shall have
No measure (of corn) from me,
Nor shall ye (even) come
Near me."

61. They said: "We shall
Certainly seek to get
Our wish about him
From his father:
Indeed we shall do it."

62. And (Joseph) told his servants
To put their stock-in-trade
(With which they had bartered)
Into their saddle-bags,
So they should know it only
When they returned to their people,

p. 574

In order that they
Might come back.

63. Now when they returned
To their father, they said:
"O our father! No more
Measure of grain shall we get
(Unless we take our brother):
So send our brother with us,
That we may get our measure;
And we will indeed
Take every care of him."

64. He said: "Shall I trust you
With him with any result
Other than when I trusted you
With his brother aforetime?
But God is the best
To take care (of him),
And He is the Most Merciful
Of those who show mercy!"

65. Then when they opened
Their baggage, they found
Their stock-in-trade had been
Returned to them. They said:
"O our father! What (more)
Can we desire? This our
Stock-in-trade has been returned
To us: so we shall get

p. 575

(More) food for our family;
We shall take care of our brother;
And add (at the same time)
A full camel's load (of grain
To our provisions).
This is but a small quantity.

66. (Jacob) said: "Never will I
Send him with you until
Ye swear a solemn oath to me,
In God's name, that ye
Will be sure to bring him back
To me unless ye are yourselves
Hemmed in (and made powerless)."
And when they had sworn
Their solemn oath,
He said: "Over all
That we say, be God
The Witness and Guardian!"

67. Further he said:
"O my sons! enter not
All by one gate: enter ye
By different gates. Not that

p. 576

I can profit you aught
Against God (with my advice):
None can command except God:
On Him do I put my trust:
And let all that trust
Put their trust on Him."

68. And when they entered
In the manner their father
Had enjoined, it did not
Profit them in the least
Against (the Plan of) God:
It was but a necessity
Of Jacob's soul, which he
Discharged. For he was,
By Our instruction, full
Of knowledge (and experience):
But most men know not.

p. 577


69. Now when they came
Into Joseph's presence,
He received his (full) brother
To stay with him. He said
(To him): "Behold! I am thy (own)
Brother; so grieve not
At aught of their doings."

70. At length when he had furnished
Them forth with provisions
(Suitable) for them, he put
The drinking cup into
His brother's saddle-bag.
Then shouted out a Crier:
"O ye (in) the Caravan!
Behold! ye are thieves,
Without doubt!"

71. They said, turning towards them:
"What is it that ye miss?"

72. They said: "We miss
The great beaker of the king;

p. 578

For him who produces it,—
Is (the reward of)
A camel load; I
Will be bound by it."

73. (The brothers) said: "By God!
Well ye know that we
Came not to make mischief
In the land, and we are
No thieves!"

74. (The Egyptians) said: "What then
Shall be the penalty of this,
If ye are (proved) to have lied?"

75. They said: "The penalty
Should be that he
In whose saddle-bag
It is found, should be held
(As bondman) to atone
For the (crime). Thus it is
We punish the wrong-doers!"

76. So he began (the search)
With their baggage,

p. 579

Before (he came to) the baggage
Of his brother: at length
He brought it out of his
Brother's baggage. Thus did We
Plan for Joseph. He could not
Take his brother by the law
Of the king except that God
Willed it (so). We raise
To degrees (of wisdom) whom
We please: but over all
Endued with knowledge is One,
The All-Knowing.

77. They said: "If he steals,
There was a brother of his
Who did steal before (him)."
But these things did Joseph
Keep locked in his heart,
Revealing not the secrets to them.

p. 580

He (simply) said (to himself):
"Ye are the worse situated;
And God knoweth best
The truth of what ye assert!"

78. They said: "O exalted one!
Behold! he has a father,
Aged and venerable, (who will
Grieve for him); so take
One of us in his place;
For we see that thou art
(Gracious) in doing good."

79. He said: "God forbid
That we take other than him
With whom we found
Our property: indeed
(If we did so), we should
Be acting wrongfully.


80. Now when they saw
No hope of his (yielding),
They held a conference in private.
The leader among them said:
"Know ye not that your father
Did take an oath from you
In God's name, and how,
Before this, ye did fail

p. 581

In your duty with Joseph?
Therefore will I not leave
This land until my father
Permits me, or God
Commands me; and He
Is the best to command.

81. "Turn ye back to your father,
And say, "O our father!
Behold! thy son committed theft!
We bear witness only to what
We know, and we could not
Well guard against the unseen!

82. "Ask at the town where
We have been and the caravan
In which we returned,
And (you will find) we are
Indeed telling the truth."

83. Jacob said: "Nay, but ye
Have yourselves contrived
A story (good enough) for you.
So patience is most fitting
(For me). Maybe God will
Bring them (back) all
To me (in the end).
For He is indeed full
Of knowledge and wisdom.

p. 582

84. And he turned away from them,
And said: "How great
Is my grief for Joseph!"
And his eyes became white
With sorrow, and he fell
Into silent melancholy.

85. They said: "By God!
(Never) wilt thou cease
To remember Joseph
Until thou reach the last
Extremity of illness,
Or until thou die!"

86. He said: "I only complain
Of my distraction and anguish
To God, and I know from God
That which ye know not…

87. "O my sons! go ye
And enquire about Joseph
And his brother, and never
Give up hope of God's
Soothing Mercy: truly
No one despairs of God's

p. 583

Soothing Mercy, except
Those who have no faith."

88. Then, when they came
(Back) into (Joseph's) presence
They said: "O exalted one!
Distress has seized us
And our family: we have
(Now) brought but scanty capital:
So pay us full measure,
(We pray thee), and treat it
As charity to us: for God
Doth reward the charitable."

89. He said: "Know ye
How ye dealt with Joseph
And his brother, not knowing
(What ye were doing)?"

90. They said: "Art thou indeed
Joseph?" He said . "I am
Joseph, and this is my brother:
God has indeed been gracious

p. 584

To us (all): behold, he that is
Righteous and patient,—never
Will God suffer the reward
To be lost, of those
Who do right."

91. They said: "By God! Indeed
Has God preferred thee
Above us, and we certainly
Have been guilty of sin!"

92. He said: "This day
Let no reproach be (cast)
On you; God will forgive you,
And He is the Most Merciful
Of those who show mercy!

93. "Go with this my shirt,
And cast it over the face
Of my father: he will
Come to see (clearly). Then come
Ye (here) to me together
With all your family."

p. 585


94. When the Caravan left (Egypt),
Their father said: "I do indeed
Scent the presence of Joseph:
Nay, think me not a dotard."

95. They said: "By God!
Truly thou art in
Thine old wandering mind."

96. Then when the bearer
Of the good news came,
He cast (the shirt)
Over his face, and he
Forthwith regained clear sight.
He said: "Did I not say
To you, "I know from God
That which ye know not?"

p. 586

97. They said: "O our father!
Ask for us forgiveness
For our sins, for we
Were truly at fault."

98. He said: "Soon will I
Ask my Lord for forgiveness
For you: for He is indeed
Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

99. Then when they entered
The presence of Joseph,
He provided a home
For his parents with himself,
And said: "Enter ye
Egypt (all) in safety
If it please God."

100. And he raised his parents
High on the throne (of dignity),
And they fell down in prostration,
(All) before him. He said:
"O my father! this is
The fulfilment of my vision
Of old! God hath made it
Come true! He was indeed
Good to me when He
Took me out of prison

p. 587

And brought you (all here)
Out of the desert,
(Even) after Satan had sown
Enmity between me and my brothers.
Verily my Lord understandeth
Best the mysteries of all
that He planneth to do.
For verily He is full
Of knowledge and wisdom.

101."O my Lord! Thou hast
Indeed bestowed on me
Some power, and taught me
Something of the interpretation
Of dreams and events,—O Thou
Creator of the heavens
And the earth! Thou art
My Protector in this world
And in the Hereafter.
Take Thou my soul (at death)
As one submitting to Thy Will
(As a Muslim), and unite me
With the righteous."

p. 588

102. Such is one of the stories
Of what happened unseen,
Which We reveal by inspiration
Unto thee: nor wast thou
(Present) with them when they
Concerted their plans together
In the process of weaving their plots.

103. Yet no faith will
The greater part of mankind
Have, however ardently
Thou dost desire it.

104. And no reward dost thou ask
Of them for this: it is
No less than a Message
For all creatures.


105. And how many Signs
In the heavens and the earth

p. 589

Do they pass by? Yet they
Turn (their faces) away from them!

106. And most of them
Believe not in God
Without associating (others
As partners) with Him!

107. Do they then feel secure
From the coming against them
Of the covering veil
Of the wrath of God,
Or of the coming against them
Of the (final) Hour
All of a sudden
While they perceive not?

108. Say thou: "This is my Way:
I do invite unto God,
On evidence clear as
The seeing with one's eyes,—

p. 590

I and whoever follows me.
Glory to God! and never
Will I join gods with God!"

109. Nor did We send before thee
(As apostles) any but men,
Whom We did inspire,—
(Men) living in human habitations.
Do they not travel
Through the earth, and see
What was the end
Of those before them?
But the home of the Hereafter
Is best, for those who do right.
Will ye not then understand?

110. (Respite will be granted)
Until, when the apostles
Give up hope (of their people)
And (come to) think that they
Were treated as liars,
There reaches them Our help,
And those whom We will
Are delivered into safety.
But never will be warded off
Our punishment from those
Who are in sin.

111. There is, in their stories,
Instruction for men endued

p. 591

With understanding. It is not
A tale invented, but a confirmation
Of what went before it,—
A detailed exposition
Of all things, and a Guide
And a Mercy to any such
As believe.

p. 592 p. 593 p. 594 p. 595 p. 596 p. 597 p. 598 p. 599 p. 600 p. 601

Next: Sūra XIII. Ra’d or Thunder