In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, the All-Compassionate
“May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be Upon You”
Praise be to Allaah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allaah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allaah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
Bismillah Walhamdulillah Was Salaatu Was Salaam ‘ala Rasulillah
As-Salaam Alaikum Wa-Rahmatullahi Wa-Barakatuhu
The wife of the chief minister, Zulaikha, watched Joseph from day to day. She sat with him, talked with him, listened to him, and her wonder increased over the passage of time.
Joseph was soon confronted (with his second trial). The chief minister’s wife, Zulaikha, could not resist the handsome Joseph, and her obsession with him caused her sleepless nights. She fell in love with him, and it was painful for her to be so close to a man, yet be unable to hold him. Yet, she was not a wayward woman, for in her position she could get any man she desired. By all accounts she must have been a very pretty and intelligent lady, or why would the chief minister have chosen her of all the pretty women in the kingdom? Although she bore him no child, he would not take another wife, as he loved her passionately.
The Quran raises the curtain on the scene of this fierce and devouring love on the part of the lady. Allah the Almighty told us: And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act), she closed the doors and said: “Come on, 0 you.”
He said: “I seek refuge in Allah (or Allah forbid)! Truly, he (your husband) is my master! He made my stay agreeable! (So I will never betray him). Verily, the Zalimun (wrong – and evil-doers) will never be successful.”
And indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her desire, had he not seen the evidence of his Lord. Thus it was, that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves. Surah 12: 23-24
The safest commentary for us is that there is temptation and resistance in the verse, for He Most High stated: And indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her desire…” Surah 12: 24
Abu Ubaidah said that this is a temptation and resistance meaning that she had tried to seduce him; had he not seen the proof of Allah, he would have been seduced. This is in keeping with the infallibility of prophets, as it suits the words which immediately follow: Thus it was, that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse. Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves. Surah 12: 24
This verse proves that Joseph was an upright worshiper of Allah; it also testifies to his rescue from the authority of Satan. The Almighty said to the devil (Iblis) on the Day of Creation, “Certainly, you shall have no authority over My slaves, except those who follow you of the Ghawin (Mushrikeen and those who go astray, criminals, polytheists, and evil-doers, etc.)” Surah 15: 42
Joseph’s refusal only heightened her passion. As he moved to the door to escape, she ran after him and caught hold of his shirt, like a drowning person clinging to the boat. In her tugging she tore his shirt and held the torn piece in her hand. They reached the door together. It opened suddenly; there stood her husband and a relative of hers.
Almighty Allah said: So they raced with one another to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back. They both found her lord (i.e. her husband) at the door. Surah 12: 25
As he opened the door, he saw her husband standing in front of him. The sly woman immediately changed her tone to anger and, showing the torn piece of the shirt in her hand, asked her husband: “What is the recompense (punishment) for him who intended an evil design against your wife, except that he be put in prison or a painful torment?” Surah 12: 25
She was now accusing Joseph of molesting her, to give the impression that she was innocent and a victim of Joseph’s sexual desire. Though bewildered Joseph denied it: “It was she that sought to seduce me.
After the husband had questioned his wife and Joseph, he consulted Zulaikha’s cousin. He was an honest, wise man who listened to both accounts and gave his opinion. He said the proof was in the shirt. If it was torn at the front it meant that he had tried to seduce her, as the torn shirt would then be a proof of self-defense. The husband asked: “And if the shirt is torn at the back?” The relative said: “Then it would mean that she was the one who tempted him.” Surah 12: 26
The shirt was passed from hand to hand, while she watched. The witness (her cousin) looked at it and found that it was torn at the back. The evidence clearly showed that she was guilty. The disappointed husband remarked to his wife: “Surely, it is a plot of you women! Certainly mighty is you plot!” Surah 12: 28
The wise and just Aziz apologized to Joseph for his wife’s indecency. He also instructed her to beg Joseph’s forgiveness for accusing him falsely.
Allah the Almighty narrated this incident thus: He (Joseph) said: “It was she that sought to seduce me,” – and a witness of her household bore witness (saying): “If it be that his shirt is torn from the front, then her tale is true and he is a liar! But if it be that his shirt is torn from the back, then she has told a lie and he is speaking the truth!”
So when he (her husband) saw his (Joseph’s) shirt torn at the back; (her husband) said: “Surely, it is a plot of you women! Certainly mighty is your plot! 0 Joseph! Turn away from this! (0 woman!) Ask forgiveness for your sin. Verily, you were of the sinful.” Surah 12: 26-29
An incident like this cannot remain a secret in a house filled with servants, and the story spread. Women began to see her behavior as scandalous. They remarked: “The wife of Al-Aziz is seeking to seduce her (slave) young man, indeed she loves him violently; verily, we see her in plain error.” Surah 12: 30
Naturally their gossip distressed Zulaikha. She honestly believed that it was not easy for any woman to resist a man as handsome as Joseph. To prove her helplessness, she planned to subject the women to the same temptation she faced. She invited them to a lavish banquet. No one so invited would want to miss the honor of dining with the chief minister’s wife; besides, they secretly harbored the desire to meet the handsome Joseph face to face. Some of her close friends jokingly said they would come only if she introduced them to Joseph.
The invitation was restricted to ladies. The banquet began, laughter and mirth abounded. Etiquette dictated that the ladies not mention the topic of Joseph. They were shocked, therefore, when Zulaikha opened the topic. “I have heard of those who say I have fallen in love with the young Hebrew man, Joseph.” Silence fell upon the banquet. At once all the guests’ hands stopped, and all eyes fell on the chief minister’s wife. She said, while giving orders for the fruit to be served: “I admit that he is a charming fellow. I do not deny that I love him. I have loved him for a long time.”
The confession of the chief minister’s wife removed the tension among the ladies. After finishing their dinner, the guests began cutting their fruit. At that very moment she summoned Joseph to make his appearance. He entered the hall gracefully, his gaze lowered. Zulaikha called him by his name and he raised his head. The guests were astonished and dumbfounded. His face was shining and full of manliness and angelic beauty. It reflected complete innocence, so much so that one could feel the peace of mind in the depth of his soul.
They exclaimed in astonishment while continuing to cut the fruit. All their eyes were on Joseph. So it was that the women began to cut their palms absent-mindedly without feeling that they had cut them.
The presence of Joseph at the scene of drama was so effective that blood flowed without their feeling pain. One of the ladies gasped: “Good gracious!” Another whispered: ‘This is not a mortal being!” Another stammered, patting her hair: “This is but a noble angel.”
Then the chief minister’s wife stood up and announced: “This is the one for whom I have been blamed. I do not deny that I tempted him. You have been enchanted by Joseph, and see what has happened to your hands. I have tempted him, and if he does not do what I want of him he shall be imprisoned.”
Almighty Allah related the scene of the banquet in His words: So when she heard of their accusation, she sent for them and prepared a banquet for them; she gave each one of them a knife (to cut the foodstuff with), and she said (to Joseph): “Come out before them.” Then, when they saw him, they exalted him (at his beauty) and (in their astonishment) cut their hands. They said: “How perfect is Allah (or Allah forbid)! No man is this! This is none other than a noble angel!”
She said: “This is he (the young man) about whom you did blame me (for his love), and I did seek to seduce him, but he refused. And now if he refuses to obey my order, he shall certainly be cast into prison, and will be one of those who are disgraced.” Surah 31-32
He said: “0 my Lord! Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one (of those who commit sin and deserve blame or those who do deeds) of the ignorants.”
So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All Knower. Surah 12: 33-34
That evening, Zulaikha convinced her husband that the only way to save her honor was to put Joseph in prison; otherwise she would not be able to control herself or to safeguard his prestige. The chief minister knew Joseph was absolutely innocent, that he was a young man of honor, a loyal servant, and he loved him for these reasons. It was not an easy decision for him to put an innocent man behind bars. However, he was left with no choice. He reasoned that Joseph’s honor would also be safeguarded if he was kept out of Zulaikha’s sight. That night, with a heavy heart, the chief minister sent Joseph to prison.
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