Ibn ʿAṭāʾ said, “We tried him with various sorts of the trial until We conveyed him to exaltedness and eminence.”
In terms of allusion, He is saying, “We turned Joseph over to various sorts of trial and kept him for a long time in the station of bewilderment on the carpet of remorse until We conveyed him to the place of generosity and elevation and let him taste the warmth of nearness and closeness. In face of this blessing that tribulation was not heavy, and next to this nearness that remorse was no loss.”
The foundation of happiness is all suffering, and beneath one disappointment lie a thousand treasures. If you want the wisdom of this clearer and an explication fuller, it means, “We ruled and decreed in the beginningless that Joseph would be king of Egypt. First We showed him the abasement of slavery so that he would be informed of the remorse of captives and slaves. Then We tried him with the trial of prison so that he would be aware of the burning and grief of prisoners. We threw him into the gloom of exile so that he would not be heedless of the helplessness of exiles.” We raise in degree whomsoever We will. First, there is going straight, then unveiling, then contemplation: “We give whomsoever We want a high standing, and We lift up his degrees: first the success of obedience, then the realization of recompense; first the self-purification of deeds, then making states limpid; first the resoluteness of service in the station of the Shariah, then the finding of contemplation in the Haqiqah itself.”
12:81 Return to your father and say, “O our father! Surely thy son has stolen.”
When Jacob became distracted and distraught in separation from Joseph, helpless in his pain without remedy, he wanted to make the remembrance of that dear one a balm for his wound and to be passionate with someone linked to Joseph. He made Benjamin his reminder and sympathizer, for he had drunk water from the same drinking place as Joseph and had been nurtured on the same lap. The heart of the passionate man always inclines toward someone who has a link or some sort of similarity with the object of passion. Do you not see that Majnūn of Banī ʿĀmir went out to the desert hunting for a gazelle? He saw that its eyes and neck were like those of Laylā. He was passing his hands over its neck, kissing its eyes, and saying, “Your eyes are her eyes, your neck is her neck!”
When Jacob fastened his heart to Benjamin and when a part of him came to rest in him, the venomous sickle was once again drawn from the sheath of time, and Benjamin was separated from his father. Then the name of a thief was thrown on him, and this added trial to his trial—salt was sprinkled on his wound and the burn was once again burned. Just as fire wants to kindle burnt rags, so also the pain of separation wants to settle down with a burnt heart.
Whenever Jacob saw Benjamin, he was consoled by him, for “He who is prevented from gazing is consoled by a trace.” Then, when he was held back from Benjamin, the burning reached the utmost limit and he moaned at the pain in his heart. With the tongue of longing, he said, 12:84 “Oh, my grief for Joseph!” And his eyes turned white because of the sorrow that he was suppressing.
The revelation came from the Compeller of all engendered beings: “O Jacob! You grieve so much for him, but you do not grieve for what you are missing of Me by being busy with grief for him!” O Jacob, how long this sorrow and regret at separation from Joseph? How long will you suffer grief and cold sigh? Do you not suffer the grief that you are held back from Me while busy with him?
Jacob’s remembrance of Joseph was the seed of heartache, and Joseph’s remembrance of Jacob was the seed of ease. Since Jacob had all that rebuke for remembering Joseph, everything other than remembering God is loss. It is said that remembering the Friend is like the spirit. Look more carefully: remembering the Friend is the spirit itself!”
When Jacob saw the harshness of the Real’s rebuke, he no longer mentioned Joseph’s name. Then the mercy and gentleness of the Exalted Threshold gave this command to Gabriel: “O Gabriel, go to Jacob and remind him of Joseph.” Gabriel came and mentioned Joseph’s name. Jacob sighed. The revelation came from the Real: “O Jacob, I know what is beneath your moaning. By My exaltedness, were he dead, I would resurrect him because of the beauty of your loyalty.”And his eyes turned white because of the sorrow that he was suppressing.
Abū ʿAlī al-Daqqāq said, “Jacob wept because of a created thing, so his eyesight went. David wept more than Jacob, but his eyesight did not go, because his weeping was for the sake of his Lord.”
Weeping for the Real is of two sorts: weeping from the eyes and weeping from the heart. Weeping from the eyes is the weeping of repenters in fear of God; they weep at seeing their own disobedience. Weeping from the heart is the weeping of the recognizers; they weep because of veneration of the Real in seeing tremendousness. Repenters weep because of remorse and need, recognizers weep because of secret whispering and joy.
Muṣṭafā said, “Tomorrow at the resurrection, all eyes will be weeping from the terror of the resurrection and the Greatest Fright, except four: One is the eye of a warrior who was wounded and died in the road of God. Second is the eye turned away from forbidden things so as not to look at the inappropriate. The third is the eye that was always sleepless from standing in prayer at night. Fourth is the eye that weeps in fear of God.”
It has been narrated that David said, “O God, what is the recompense of someone who weeps in fear of You until tears flow down his face?” He said, “His recompense is that I will make him secure from the Greatest Fright and will make his face forbidden to the scorching of the Fire.”
It has been narrated that God said, “By My exaltedness and majesty, no servant will weep in fear of Me without My pouring for him the nectar of My mercy! By My exaltedness and majesty, no servant will weep in fear of Me without My exchanging that for laughter in the light of My Holiness!”
And his eyes turned white because of the sorrow. He did not say, “Jacob became blind,” lest that be cruelty, for in reality “blindness” is the heart’s inability to see, as He said: “Surely it is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts in the breasts” [22:46]. Jacob had perfect seeing and clarity of heart, but his eyes were veiled from witnessing anyone but Joseph. This is because, under the ruling power of passion, during the absence of the object of passion the eyes of the passionate man must be veiled from others, for, in the religion of friendship, seeing another in place of the beloved is nothing but associationism.
12:93 Go with this shirt of mine and cast it upon the face of my father so that he may come to seeing.
Joseph said, “Take my shirt to Jacob, for his pain has not ceased from the time he saw the shirt stained with the wolf’s blood. The balm will also be my shirt.” When they took the shirt from Egypt, the morning breeze was commanded to take the shirt’s scent to Jacob’s nostrils so that, before Joseph’s messenger could give the good news, he would receive it from the Real’s messenger and recognize the Real’s perfect gentleness and favor toward him. According to the tasting of the recognizers, this is the divine breeze that wanders furtively around the world to the doors of the breasts of the faithful and the tawḥīd-voicers to see where there may be a limpid breast and an empty secret core in which to dwell.
To this alluded the Prophet: “Surely your Lord has breezes in the days of your time,” and so on. As for Jacob, this generosity was shown to him by means of passion for Joseph. Beneath this lies a magnificent secret. Its explanation is that contemplating Joseph for Jacob was by means of contemplating the Real. Whenever Jacob saw Joseph with the eyes of his head, he was gazing on the Real in contemplation with the eye of his secret core. So, when he was veiled from contemplating Joseph, his heart was also veiled from contemplating the Real. All of Jacob’s anxiety and grieving were because of the loss of the contemplation of the Real, not the loss of companionship with Joseph. His longing and lamenting at separation from Joseph was because he had lost his mirror. He did not weep for the mirror itself, but for his heart’s closeness, which he no longer saw. He burned because of losing that. Hence, on the day when he saw him again, he fell down in prostration, for his heart was contemplating the Real. He was prostrating before the contemplation of the Real, for none other than God is worthy of prostration.
12:94 Their father said, “Surely I find Joseph’s scent.”
The wonder is that the bringer of the shirt found nothing of that scent, but Jacob found it at the distance of eighty farsakhs. For that was the scent of passion, and the scent of passion blows only on the passionate. Moreover, it does not always blow. As long as a man has not been cooked by passion and pounded by the trial of passion, the scent will not blow on him. Do you not see that at the beginning of the work and the outset of the story, when Joseph was taken away from him, the first stage was not reached when they threw him into the well. Jacob had no awareness of this and caught no scent. Finally, at Canaan, he reported about Joseph’s scent: “Surely I find Joseph’s scent.” It is said that in the House of Sorrows, Jacob wept a great deal every dawn. Sometimes he lamented miserably, sometimes he wailed at his abasement, sometimes he opened the journal of passion and began the chapter on passion. Sometimes he put his head on his knees, sometimes he placed his face in the dust, his two hands raised in supplication.
Thus it is that on the day of relief the morning breeze brought the scent of Joseph to Jacob and brought him into proximity. This is the custom of the lovers: asking in the lands, conferring with ruined encampments, and sniffing news from the winds.
In this meaning someone symphonies
“I will let the winds guide me to your scent
when they blow from your direction
And ask them to carry my greetings to you.
Respond to me if they come one day.”
12:99-100 So, when they entered in upon Joseph, he embraced his parents… And he lifted his parents to the throne, and they fell prostrate before him… “He acted beautifully toward me when He brought me out of prison and brought you from the desert after Satan had sowed dissension between me and my brothers. Surely my Lord is gentle toward what He will.”
In going to Egypt, all were the same. But at the time of proximity and caresses, they were different, for he put his father and maternal aunt on the throne of generosity and singled them out for the companionship, nearness, and embrace, as the Exalted Lord says: “And he lifted his parents to the throne.” But he brought his brothers down to the place of service: “And they fell prostrate before him.” This is an allusion that tomorrow at the resurrection, all the faithful will be brought into paradise, both the disobedient who have been forgiven and the obedient who have been approved. Then those who were the folk of disobedience, the ones received by the Real’s forgiveness, will be set down in paradise, and the folk of recognition will be singled out for the special favor of proximity and nearness. They will be brought to the Presence of At-ness: at an Omnipotent King [54:55].
The folk of service is one thing, the folk of companionship something else. The folk of service is prisoners of paradise, the folk of companionship commanders of paradise. The prisoners are in joy and bliss, and the commanders dwell in secret whispering with the Beneficent.”
He acted beautifully toward me when He brought me out of prison. The beautiful-doer is not he who acts beautifully at the beginning. The beautiful-doer is he who acts beautifully after your disloyalty. Joseph saw the disloyalty of his own soul at first when he sought refuge with the cupbearer in prison and said, “Remember me to your lord” [12:42]. Then he saw that his deliverance from the prison was through the Real’s bounty and generosity, and he counted that as beautiful doing. He said, “He acted beautifully toward me when He brought me out of prison.” Even though he had seen the trial of the well, he did not speak of it again, for he saw this trial as a blessing for him. In the well, he had received the revelation of the Real, heard the message of the King, and seen Gabriel, the messenger of the Presence. God says, “We revealed to him, ‘Surely thou shalt inform them’” [12:15]. So he counted the tribulation as a blessing and saw that the trial was bestowal itself. This is why he did not mention the trial of the well, but he did talk about the prison.
He said, “God acted beautifully toward me, for I was worthy of blame, but He showed generosity toward me. He saw bad from me and had mercy through His own bounty, delivering me from the prison and, after separation, bringing me together with the honored ones. He did all that out of His own gentleness, servant-caressing, and loving-kindness. Surely my Lord is gentle toward what He will. He is a Lord who through His own gentleness comes back to loyalty toward the hopeful and through His own generosity passes over the hidden things of the servants and sets their work aright in the two worlds.”