Joseph and his Dream (Part 1)

The Life of Islamic prophets -  Joseph's Dream

Earlier we saw how God blessed Sarah for her patience and faith by giving her a son, Isaac, and a grandson, Jacob, both of whom were prophets. Jacob in turn had twelve sons. Of them all, the one he loved most was Joseph, a handsome boy of high intelligence and a kind nature. One night, as he slept, the young Joseph dreamt that the sun, the moon and eleven planets were prostrating themselves to him. When he woke up, he hurried to tell his father of his dream. On hearing Joseph’s dream, Jacob understood that a great event lay in store for his young son. Jacob warned Joseph not to tell his brothers of his dream, lest they be envious and try to harm him, for Jacob knew that they were jealous of Joseph’s favored position.

“My little son, relate not your vision to your brothers lest they concoct a plot against you, for Satan is to man an avowed enemy”

(Quran, 12:5)

One day, the ten elder brothers asked their father if they could take Joseph out hunting with them. Jacob was reluctant to agree, as he sensed that some danger might befall his favorite son. The brothers insisted, however, that no harm would come to Joseph ee, and, finally, Jacob relented. What Jacobe did not know was that the brothers were planning out of their jealousy, to rid themselves of Joseph M. Shortly after they had left their father and were a distance from the town, they decided to carry out their terrible deed by throwing Joseph down a well and leaving him there to die. First, however, they stripped off his shirt and stained it with the blood of a sheep that they had slaughtered earlier. They then returned to Jacob carrying the blood-stained shirt, weeping. “O father!” they cried, “That which you feared has come to pass! We left Joseph to look after our belongings while we ran races. No sooner had we turned our backs than a wolf, seeing that Joseph was alone, attacked and ate him. Here is his shirt soaked with his blood.” Jacob was sorely distressed, but in his heart he did not believe their story. He said:

“No, but you har plotted something. Patience is best for me and I will seek Cod’s help concerning what you tell me”

(Quran, 12:18)

While his father grieved. Joseph lay at the bottom of the dark well, frightened and unable to get out. Soon, a caravan of travelers stopped to draw water. When they lowered a bucket into the well, Joseph held on to it and was pulled to the top. Imagine the surprise of the travelers when they saw a handsome boy emerging from the well! They decided to take him with them to Egypt in the hope of selling him there for a good price.

When the caravan arrived in Egypt, Joseph was sold to a nobleman who took him into his service. Quickly the nobleman and his wife became fond of Joseph e, for the young boy was not only handsome but also good-natured and intelligent.

The years passed and Joseph grew into a young man of stunning beauty and charm. This, however, proved to be a source of trouble for him, for his master’s wife fell in love with him and tried to tempt him. When Joseph ejected her advances, the outraged wife unjustly accused him of misbehaving towards her and Joseph was thrown into prison.

Joseph did not enter prison as a common criminal, for he was innocent and had a clear conscience. He was resigned to waiting for God’s justice and regarded his imprisonment as a blessing which kept him from the temptation with which he had been tested at his master’s house. And yet, there was another reason for Joseph’s being in prison, for it was while he was there that Joseph received God’s call to be a prophet thus following in the footsteps of his father Jacob his grandfather Isaac and his great-grandfather Abraham e. And so, Joseph began his mission while in prison and would preach to his fellow prisoners. He would urge the criminals to abandon their wicked ways and he would console those wrongly imprisoned and bid them endure their suffering patiently:

“I assure you l have abandoned the ways of a people that believe not in God and that even deny the Hereafter. And I follow the ways of my fathers, Abraham. Isaac and Jacob: and never could we attribute am partners whatever to God. That is a result of the grace of God to us and to mankind: yet most men are not grateful.”

(Quran, 12:37-38)

There was another gift with which Joseph was blessed, the gift of interpreting dreams. One day, two of his companions in prison came to Joseph and asked him to interpret their dreams. Before their imprisonment both men had worked at the palace of the King of Egypt. Now, the first had dreamt that he was standing on a high place, carrying bread on his head and that birds were eating the bread. The second man had dreamt that he was offering wine to the King Joseph listened cafully to what his two companions related and thought for a while. Then, he told the first man that he was going to be crucified. Joseph told the second man that he would return to the palace and pour out wine for his King to drink. Joseph then asked the man he knew would be released, to remind the King that he was still in prison, and to tell him that he had been wronged and was awaiting his release.

Not long afterwards, Joseph’s predictions came true. The first man was condemned to death and the second was released and returned to the palace. The second man, however, forgot to remind the King about Joseph, and so he remained in prison for several more years.

On night, the King had a very strange dream which he failed to understand. He called for all of the priests of the land to come to him in order to interpret his dream. The King then told them how in a dream he had seen seven fat cows being eaten by seven lean cows, and seven green ears of corn followed by seven dry ears. None of the priests could interpret the dream. It was only then that the cup-bearer remembered Joseph e. He announced to the King that Joseph had the power to interpret dreams. The King immediately sent one of his men to ask Joseph about the meaning of his dream.

Joseph replied that Egypt will witness seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of hardship. He advised the King to store the surplus grain of the first seven years in order to be able to feed his people during the seven lean years. The King was satisfied with this interpretation of his dream and, realizing that Joseph was gifted with great knowledge, sent for Joseph to be brought to him. To the King’s amazement, Joseph refused to leave the prison until
the King had recognized his innocence. When Joseph’s case was looked into, it became clear that Joseph indeed was innocent of the accusations made against him. Impressed by his honesty, the King said:

“Bring him to me; I will take him to serve me alone”

(Quran, 12:54)

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