Surah Yusuf (12): Read Online and Download - English Translation

This page contains all verses of surah Yusuf in addition to Interpretation of all verses by Maarif-ul-Quran (Mufti Muhammad Shafi). In the first part you can read surah يوسف ordered in pages exactly as it is present in the Quran. To read an interpretation of a verse click on its number.

Information About Surah Yusuf

Surah Yusuf
سُورَةُ يُوسُفَ
Page 235 (Verses from 1 to 4)

Listen to Surah Yusuf (Arabic and English translation)

Tafsir of Surah Yusuf (Maarif-ul-Quran: Mufti Muhammad Shafi)

English Translation

Alif, Lam, Ra. These are the verses of the clear Book.

English Transliteration

Aliflamra tilka ayatu alkitabi almubeenu


With the exception of four verses, Surah Yusuf is wholly a Makki Surah. In this Surah, the story of Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) has been described with continuity and order. Then, the story of Sayyidna Yusuf appears in this Surah alone. It has not been repeated anywhere else in the whole Quran as such (with the exception of Surah Al-An’ am - 6:84 - and Surah Al-Mu'min or Ghafir - 40:34 - where only the name of Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) has been mentioned as a Messenger of Allah, in appropriate context). This is particular with the story of Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) otherwise the stories and events concerning all blessed prophets have been introduced in the entire Qur'an with great wisdom, part by part, and repeatedly too.

The truth of the matter is that world history and past experiences teach human beings what to do with their lives in the future. These have a natural effect of their own which acts better on minds and hearts as compared to the pull of formal education. This effect is deeper and fairly effortless. Therefore, in the Holy Qur'an, which has been sent for all peo-ples of the world as their last testament, a marked portion of the entire history of the peoples of the world - a portion that serves as the master prescription for the betterment of the present and ultimate human condition - has been taken up electively and pragmatically. Furthermore, even this portion of world history has been introduced by the Holy Qur’ an, with its unique and inimitable style, in a manner that its reader simply does not get the impression that he or she was reading some book of history. In fact, whatever part of a certain story serves the need of driving home a lesson or tendering a good counsel on any given occasion, it is just that part which finds mention in that setting. And should there be the need to allude to that particular part once again on some other occasion, it was repeated. Therefore, consideration was not given to sequential order in the narration of events in the story. At some places the earlier part of the story comes later, and the later part finds mention earlier. This special style of the Qur’ an carries a standing rule of guidance that reading or remembering world history and its past events is not an end by itself. Instead of that, the purpose of every human being should be to draw some lesson from every story and to cull and deduce some good advice from every information.

It is well-known that the human speech is classified into two forms: Descriptive (khabar) and imperative (insha' ). According to the knowledgeable scholars, it is the later form (i.e. imperative) that is the essential objective. Description in itself is not an end. A wise man ought to learn an imperative from every description, and make use of it for correcting and reforming himself.

That the story of Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) has been narrated in a sequence could be because historiography is a discipline. It has particular rules of guidance for its practitioners. For instance, the narration should not be so brief as to make its understanding impossible, nor should it be so long as would make reading and remembering it difficult - which be-comes clear from the Qur’ anic treatment of this story.

According to some narrations, another reason for this could lie in what the Jews had said to the Holy Prophet". To test him, they had asked him: If you are a true prophet, tell us why did the family of Ya` qub move from Syria to Egypt and what had actually happened to Yusuf (علیہ السلام) ? It was in answer to that that this whole story was revealed. It was a miracle of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، and certainly a great proof of his prophethood - for he was simply an Ummiyy, one who was not taught by anyone, who had never read a book and who had lived in Makkah practically his whole life, yet, he narrated all events mentioned in the Torah correctly. In fact, he told them of what was not mentioned in the Torah. There are many injunctions and instructions which emerge from these narrations which will appear later in this commentary.

In the first of the set of verses cited above, the words: الٓرٰ ` Alif Lam Ra' are isolated letters (al-Huruf al-Muqatta at) of the Holy Qur'an. About these, it is the universal verdict of the majority of Sahabah and Tabi` in that they are a secret between Allah Ta’ ala, the speaker, and the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، the addressee - which a third person cannot understand, nor is it appropriate for one to exert and insist on finding it out.

After that it was said: تِلکَ آیٰتُ الکِتٰبِ المُبِین (These are the verses of the en-lightening Book). That is, these are verses of the Book which delineate the delimitations and restrictions of what is lawful and unlawful, including those of other things in all departments of human life, and thus gives people a simple, straight and moderate system of living, as promised in the Torah, and as already known to the Jews.

English Translation

Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur\'an that you might understand.

English Transliteration

Inna anzalnahu quranan AAarabiyyan laAAallakum taAAqiloona

The statement made in verse 2 following immediately is: إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ قُرْ‌آنًا عَرَ‌بِيًّا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ (Surely, We have sent it down, an Arabic Qur’ an, so that you may understand).

It is indicative of the situation that those who had asked to be informed of what had happened to Sayyidna ~Yusuf (علیہ السلام) were the Jews of Arabia. So, Allah Ta’ ala revealed this story in their language so that they may ponder over it and attest to the veracity of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and tune their lives in the light of the injunctions and instructions which emerge from this story.

This is the reason why the word: لَعلَّ (la'alla) has been brought in here in the sense of ` so that' because the mindset of these addressees was already known - that they would, despite having the benefit of very clear verses before them, still doubt and delay their acceptance of truth.

English Translation

We relate to you, [O Muhammad], the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur\'an although you were, before it, among the unaware.

English Transliteration

Nahnu naqussu AAalayka ahsana alqasasi bima awhayna ilayka hatha alqurana wain kunta min qablihi lamina alghafileena

In the third verse, it was said: نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْ‌آنَ وَإِن كُنتَ مِن قَبْلِهِ لَمِنَ الْغَافِلِین (We narrate to you the best narrative by revealing this Qur'an to you, and surely before this, you were among the unaware).

This is to chasten the Jews that they had tried to test the Messenger of Allah ﷺ which proved to be in vain, for its effect turned out to be just the reverse of what they had intended. It only went on to prove the excellence and authenticity of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in a far more evident manner. From this it became clear that he was already an Ummiyy and had no knowledge of world history. Now that he came to know of this needs an explanation and there can be no explanation for this except that he was Divinely educated and blessed with revelation as a prophet of Allah Ta’ ala.

English Translation

[Of these stories mention] when Joseph said to his father, "O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me."

English Transliteration

Ith qala yoosufu liabeehi ya abati innee raaytu ahada AAashara kawkaban waalshshamsa waalqamara raaytuhum lee sajideena

Moving on the verse 4, the text takes up the story of Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) which opens with the following words: إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَ‌أَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ‌ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ‌ رَ‌أَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ (It happened) [ when Yusuf said to his father, 'My father, I have seen eleven stars and the Sun and the Moon; I have seen them all prostrating to me.]

This was the dream seen by Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) interpreting which Sayyidna ` Abdullah ibn ` Abbas ؓ said: ` The eleven stars meant the eleven brothers of Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) and the Sun and the Moon meant his father and mother.'

According to al-Qurtubi, though the mother of Sayyidna Yusuf (علیہ السلام) had passed away from this mortal world before this event, but in her place, his father was wedded to her sister. A maternal aunt already has love and concern for her sister's children as their natural mother would normally have. Now when she, after the death of her sister, comes to be the wife of the father, she would customarily be referred to as the mother.