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What Does the Quran Say About Knowing?

There are many things in life that we are not aware of.  The past, the future, even the now.  In Surah Yusuf, Allah is telling Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) things that are beyond his knowledge., such as a detailed story of what had happened to Prophet Yusuf. 

It begins with sujood and ends with sujood.  This is Surah Yusuf.  Al-Ghaib is an Arabic expression used to convey that something is concealed (“unseen”) in some way.  The past is Al-Ghaib.

What was revealed in Surah Yusuf?

Surah Yusuf revealed this big theme of ‘not knowing’ and ‘knowing only because Allah led them to know’.  This is not a mystery, but a fact that we fail to see in a different perspective . That knowing is a gift from Allah.

1. Yusuf’s dream

  • Only Yusuf and Yaqub knew what the dream was about.  None of his siblings knew it.

2. The meeting

  • Yusuf brothers had ill intentions toward Yusuf.  Their jealousy upon him led them to plotting of leaving Yusuf in an abandoned well.  Both Yusuf and Yaqub were not aware of their scheming in getting Yaqub’s permission to bring Yusuf out with them and to later leave him in an abandoned well.

3. Saved by a merchant

  • None of the brothers knew what would have happened to Yusuf after they left him in the well.  The merchant who came looking for a drink and was shocked to find a boy in the well, too, didn’t know that he’d be facing that kind of situation.
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4. Inside the heart of Al-Azeez’s wife

  • No one knew what was going on inside Al-Azeez or The Ruler’s wife.  What drove her to seduce Yusuf.  No one in the castle knew what happened behind the locked doors, except for The Ruler’s wife herself and  Yusuf – the one being locked inside her room.

5. Proof of innocence

  • No one outside the castle knew about the proof of Yusuf’s innocence, i.e. the tearing on the back of Yusog’s shirt.  No one knew about it except Yusuf, the Ruler, the Ruler’s wife and a judge.

6. The word spread

  • The Ruler’s wife was not aware of the word spreading about her ill intention towards Yusuf until she was told about it.

7. Inside the prison

  • In the prison, none of the prisoners knew about their food situation; when would they be getting them and what kind of food they would be getting. Suddenly, Yusuf announced to his two cellmates that he knew this when and what as he had been informed by The-All-Knowing.

8. The king’s dream

  • None of the ministers were able to interpret the king’s dream and relate to the future of Egypt.  Yusuf announced that  he knew the meaning  of the dream as he had been informed by The-All-Knowing.
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9. The confession

  • The Ruler’s wife made a confession in front of the King of Egypt about her deception regarding Yusuf.  Yusuf who was still in prison at the time did not know about this confession.

10.The first arrival

  • When Yusuf brothers first arrived in Egypt, he recognised them although they didn’t recognise him.  They didn’t recognise that was the brother they left in a well some time ago.

11. Sacks of wheat

  • Yusuf returned their belongings, without their knowing what was hidden inside those sacks of wheat  until they  returned to their father.

12. The second arrival

  • On their second arrival in Egypt, Yusuf made a plan with his youngest sibling, Benjamin.  The plan was unknown to their brothers just like they didn’t know about the king’s drinking cup hidden in one of  the sacks of wheat.

13. Lamenting his sorrow

  • Yaqub lamented to Allah about his sorrow but none of his 10 sons knew about it.

14. Scent of Yusuf’s attire

  • When Yaqub smelled the scent of Yusuf’s attire, the whole family was convinced that their blind old man was no longer sane.  They had no knowledge about what Yaqub knew.  Yaqub said, “I know from Allah, what you didn’t know of”. 
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15. Yusuf’s brothers’ sujood

  • The prostration (sujood) of all of Yusuf’s 11 brothers while he gave a speech to interpret his previous dream.  His brothers didn’t know about the dream before.  They only knew it at that moment.

This surah has recorded incidents that happened scene-by-scene.  That is how we know what had happened to Prophet Yusuf.  Because Allah allows us to.  This should increase our understanding and will to prostrate before The-All-Knowing ( عَلَّامُ الغُيُوب) .  Allah presented us proofs only The-All-Knowing would have access to.  Everyone mentioned in this surah only knew  what Allah had revealed to them.  Even when Prophet Yusuf told them about the food in prison, or the king’s dream – he mentioned it can happen because Allah revealed the knowledge to him. 

ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ أَنبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ أَجْمَعُوا أَمْرَهُمْ وَهُمْ يَمْكُرُونَ

That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal, [O Muhammad], to you. 
And you were not with them when they put together their plan while they conspired. 
(Yusuf:102)

This article was originally written in Bahasa Malaysia by Ustadh Syaari Ab Rahman from Tadabbur Centre Malaysia

References:

Dr Umar Ali Hassan Arafat, Kitab دلالة أسماء السور القرآنية على محاورها وموضوعاتها, Wikipedia

Farwina Faroque

Author Farwina Faroque

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