Chapter Scripts

Surah Yusuf: 12:91-100

12:91 [The brothers] said: “By God! Most certainly has God raised thee high above us, and we were indeed but sinners!”


By coupling his own name with that of Benjamin he possibly hinted at his brothers’ early envy and hatred of the two sons of Rachel (cf. verse 8 of this surah and the corresponding note 12); alternatively, the mention of Benjamin may have been due to the readiness with which they accepted the “evidence” of the latter’s guilt.

12:92 Said he: “No reproach shall be uttered today against you. May God forgive you your sins: for He is the most merciful of the merciful!


Lit., “whoever is…”, etc.

12:93 [And now] go and take this tunic of mine and lay it over my father’s face, and he will recover his sight. And thereupon come [back] to me with all your family.”


Lit., “he will become seeing [again]”- i.e., “he will cease to weep for me and the dimness of his sight caused by unhappiness and constant weeping will disappear on learning that I am alive”: thus may be summed up Razi’s explanation of the above sentence. According to him, there is no compelling reason to assume that Jacob had become really blind from grief. – The phrase “lay it over my father’s face” could also be rendered as “lay it before my father”, since the term wajh (lit., “face”) is often used in classical Arabic to denote, metonymically, one’s whole personality, or whole being.

12:94 And as soon, as the caravan [with which Jacob’s sons were traveling] was on its way, their father said [to the people around him]: “Behold, were it not that you might consider me a dotard, [I would say that] I truly feel the breath of Joseph [in the air]!”


Lit., “had departed”, i.e., from Egypt.

12:95 They answered: “By God! Thou art indeed still lost in thy old aberration!”


See verse 86 above.

12:96 But when the bearer of good tidings came [with Joseph’s tunic], he laid it over his face; and he regained his sight, [and] exclaimed: “Did I not tell you, ‘Verily, I know, from God, something that you do not know’?”


According to the Biblical account – not contradicted by the Qur’an – Joseph’s mother Rachel had died while giving birth to Benjamin. We may, therefore, assume that the “mother” implied in the term “parents” was another of Jacob’s wives, who had brought up Joseph and Benjamin; this would be in consonance with the ancient Arabian custom of applying the designation “mother” to a foster mother.

12:97 [His sons] answered: “O our father! Ask God to forgive us our sins, for, verily, we were sinners.”  


Lit., “onto the throne (al-‘arsh)”, in the metaphorical sense of this word.

12:98 He said: “I shall ask my Sustainer to forgive you: He alone is truly forgiving, a true dispenser of grace!”


According to ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas (as quoted by Razi), the personal pronoun in “before Him” relates to God, since it is inconceivable that Joseph would have allowed his parents to prostrate themselves before himself.

12:99 AND WHEN they [all arrived in Egypt and] presented themselves before Joseph, he drew his parents unto himself, saying, “Enter Egypt! If God so wills, you shall be secure [from all evil]!”


The fulfillment of Joseph’s childhood dream consisted in the high dignity with which he was now invested and in the fact that his parents and his brothers had come from Canaan to Egypt for his sake: for “no reasonable person can expect that the fulfillment of a dream should be an exact replica of the dream itself” (Razi, alluding to the symbolic prostration of the eleven stars, the sun and the moon mentioned in verse 4 of this surah)

12:100 And he raised his parents to the highest place of honor; and they [all] fell down before Him, prostrating themselves in adoration.


As regards my rendering of latif as “unfathomable”, see surah 6, note 89. In the present instance, this term supplies a further accent, as it were, on the theme “judgment as to what is to happen rests with none but God”.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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