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THE BEST STORY

In chapter twelve, the Qur’an narrates a story, which it calls ‘the best of stories’. It is about the Prophet Joseph, who lived in Palestine with his father and stepbrothers. When Joseph was in his teens, his stepbrothers became jealous of him. They contrived to throw him into a dry well situated in a forest. But God came to his rescue—a caravan spotted him in the well and pulled him out. Later, they sold him as a slave in an Egyptian market. That was how he traveled from Palestine to Egypt.

“God does not waste the reward of those who do good, who are righteous and steadfast.” (12:90)

Luckily his master was a courtier of the Egyptian King. As for his religion, the King was an idol worshipper, while Joseph, who belonged to the family of Abraham, was a believer in the oneness of God. After some years, when Joseph reached the age of maturity, he came in contact with the King. The King, greatly impressed by his personality and wisdom, offered him a high office in his government. In present terms, this was the equivalent of being the minister of agriculture. According to the Biblical narration, the Egyptian King said: “You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis  42:40)

Joseph accepted this offer and successfully managed the agricultural affairs of the land at a time when there was a severe drought in Egypt and the surrounding areas. People became so happy that they accepted him as their hero. After narrating this story, the Qur’an says: “God does not waste the reward of those who do good, who are righteous and steadfast.” (12:90)

What qualities did Joseph possess that elevated him to this high status? After reading his story, as given in the Qur’an, we can summarize these qualities:

  • Joseph’s stepbrothers hatched an evil plot against him which was intended to cause his death. But Joseph never developed any kind of hatred or feelings of revenge towards them. Instead, he forgave them and gave them a warm welcome in Egypt, as mentioned in the Qur’an.
  • The caravan of traders sold him as a slave in the Egyptian market but he never protested against the caravan. He never said that he was a human being and that they were using him as a marketable commodity.
  • When in Egypt, he never created any problems for his master or the king. He remained patient with the culture of idol-worshippers that was prevalent in Egypt at that time.

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