The Way of Prophet Yusuf: His Method of Inviting to Allah (Part 2)

The intelligent way in which the talk was initiated needs to be understood. It has its own importance. The way in which a magnificent building needs a befitting gate so that the person entering it may know the grandeur of the building, Yusuf (peace be upon him) broached the subject in a fine and befitting manner.

A Good Way to Introduce the Subject

First, he assured them that he would interpret the dreams for which they were so anxious.

They had come to the right person and they had not made a mistake in coming to him.

It is natural that the person in need wants his need to be fulfilled as early as possible. If a patient goes to a physician he wants his disease to be diagnosed and the medicine prescribed for him. If the physician dilly-dallies or refers to his books or if he says he will refer the matter to such and such a person, the patient will lose heart and turn hack dejected. It is, therefore, necessary that confidence should be created in the mind of the person in need.

That is why Yusuf (peace be upon him) told the prisoners:

The food which you are given (daily) shall not come to you but I shall tell you the interpretation before it comes to you. (Yusuf 12:37)

It is evident that it was not possible for the prisoners to stay for long with the Prophet Yusuf and hence they needed this assurance. As I understand this ayah, the Prophet Yusuf be told his companions: “I will tell you the interpretation before your food is brought and you will be satisfied. There will be no delay, no occasion for the ‘warder’ to reprimand you and send you back to your cells.”

Egypt was a civilized country in those days and maybe the time to serve food in the prison was also fixed.

The Mention of Something Pleasant Brings Cheer

The mere mention of food was pleasing to the prisoners. That is why Yusuf, peace be upon him, created cheer-fullness in their minds by mentioning it first. They were now in a cheerful mood and inclined to hear more from him.

The temperament of Yusuf, peace be upon him, is noteworthy for us here. He does not take any credit for interpretation of dreams and calls it a gift of Allah. It is difficult to find a parallel for the intelligent digression in his speech:

This is of that which my Lord has taught me. (Yusuf 12:37)

“It is one of the subjects which has been taught to me by Allah” and now he has the opportunity to speak about the advice he wanted to give them.

Think it over. Before he interpreted the dreams he very intelligently discharged the task of conveying the truth. If he had started preaching straight away without the little digression in his talk, the prisoners would not have been in the right frame of mind to hear him becau.se they had been frightened by their dreadful dreams.

They wanted somebody to tell them something to raise their spirits. But Yusuf (peace be upon him) told them that the interpretation of dreams did not depend on his own knowledge or intelligence. It was a favour bestowed by Allah. Thus he had the opportunity to convey the truth and he did it in such a subtle manner that nobody could deny the wisdom of it.

Think over this judicious way of conveying the truth. If the Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him, had said: “My friends, please wait. 1 will interpret the dreams. But there is another matter which is more important and worthy of serious thought,” they would obviously not hear him with patience, especially on a subject with which they were not conversant. They had not gone to him to hear all these sermons.

He Turned to ‘Invitation’ in an Agreeable Manner

This is of that which my Lord has taught me. (Yusuf 12:37)

Now keep in mind the environment in which this ‘invitation’ had been given. If there is another example of this astute method, it is to be found in the da’wah of the Prophet

Muhammad (peace be upon him) which will be mentioned later on. I cannot find such a subtle situation in the Jong history of men inviting their people to Allah nor can I find such a subtle way in which the subject was introduced. Read again the verses from:

“He said: ‘The food which you are given .. .’ up to “ … this is of that which my Lord has taught me.’

You will see how he opened the way to discourse on tawheed. Can there be any other simpler, milder and more acceptable way than this? Then look at the manner in which he broached the subject. He was in other words saying:

“I do not have the ability to interpret the dreams. I am a weak and helpless person. I have been thrown in prison and I was unable to prevent it. How is it possible for such a helpless person to talk about such subjects? It is only the kindness of Allah that He has blessed me with the art of interpreting dreams.”

He Covered a Long Way in an Instant

A question arises here. Why did Allah bless him with the knowledge of interpreting dreams? It was one more method of inviting the attention of the people to the way of Allah. In fact, the Prophet Yusuf covered a long distance in the twinkling of an eye through his gifted insight, spirituality and enlightenment, a distance which philosophers would have taken years to cover. He said:

This is of that which my Lord has taught me. Truly, I have forsaken the religion of folk who don’t believe in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter!’ (Yusuf 12:37)

Having said so, he thought he was in a better position to convey the truth, as though he were on the top of a mountain addressing the people down below:

0 my two fellow prisoners! Are many lords better or Allah, the One, the Almighty? (Yusuf 12:39)

If Yusuf (peace be upon him) had said this earlier it would have been hard for his listeners and they would not have accepted it. But now was the opportunity to say: “O my fellow prisoners! Are many lords better or Allah, the One, the Almighty?”

The priority that the subject is given in the Qur’an is worth considering here. If Yusuf had continued the earlier talk, it would have appeared dry and lifeless. But he realised from their countenances that they were prepared t:o hear the divine message. He said:

0 my fellow prisoners! Are many lords better or Allah, the One, the Almighty? (Yusuf 12:39)

Note here the tone also. This is different from the ear-liar one in which he had said:

This is of that which my Lord has taught me. (Yusuf 12:37)

The tone was then soft and mild. But the tone in which he says: “Are many lords better or Allah, the One, the Almighty?” shows strength and confidence. It was the confident tone and mode of expression which they could easily understand. If Yusuf (peace be upon him) had employed logic and reason they would not have understood a word of it.


 The article is excerpted from the book “Inviting to the Way of Allah”, by Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Translated by Qazi Abdul Hamid, published by Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. and UK Islamic Academy, 1996/1416 H.


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