Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Habib Ali Zainal Abidin on Tafsir Surah Yusuf (verses 42 - 53)


Habib Ali Zainal Abidin Al Hamid expounded on the lessons behind these 11 verses of Surah Yusuf last sunday.

"Then he said to the one whom he deemed would be saved of the two: ‘Mention me to your lord’. But Satan caused him to forget the mention before his master, so that he stayed in prison for some years. And (one day) the king said (to his courtiers), “I have seen (in a dream) seven fat cows being eaten by seven lean ones, and seven ears of grain which are green and (seven) others which are dry. O people, tell me about my dream, if you can interpret dreams. They said, “(It seems to be) a mishmash of dreams, and we do not know the interpretation of dreams. And said the one who was released (from the prison) out of the two, and recalled (Yūsuf) after a long time, “I shall tell you its interpretation. Just send me (to Yūsuf). (Thus he came to the prison and said to Yūsuf “Yūsuf, O the truthful one, tell us about seven fat cows eaten by seven lean ones, and seven ears of grain which are green and (seven) others which are dry, so that I may go back to the people and they may know (the interpretation of the dream.). He said, “You will grow crops for seven years consecutively. So, what you have harvested, leave it in its ear, except a little which you eat. Then seven hard years shall come after that, which shall eat up what you have stored for them, except a little which you preserve (to sow). Then there shall come after that a year in which people will have rains and in which they will extract juices. And (when this person went back and told the king about the interpretation of the dream), the king said, “Bring him to me.” So, when the messenger came to Yūsuf, he said, “Go back to your lord and ask him, ‘What is the case of the women who cut their hands?’ Surely, my Lord knows well their guile. He (the king) said, “What was your case, O women, when you seduced Yūsuf?” They said, “God forbid, we know of no evil in him.” The governor’s wife said, “Now the truth has come to light. I did seduce him, and he is surely truthful. (Then Yūsuf said), “That was because he (the governor) may know that I did not betray him in his absence, and that Allah does not lead the guile of betrayers to success. And I do not absolve my inner self of blame. Surely, man’s inner self often incites to evil, unless my Lord shows mercy. Certainly, my Lord is the Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” [Qur'an 12:42 - 12:53]

Habib Ali said:
Before we ponder over the verses we should take note that Allah grant each of His prophet with unique abilities befitting the challenges faced during their time. Nabi Musa had a magical talent. Nabi Muhammad s.a.w was granted mukjizat of the beautiful Qur'anic Arabic language. Nabi Yusuf was a capable dream interpreter.

Several talents were consulted to interpret the king's dream but none of them could figure it out. They thought his dream was unclear. They were puzzled thinking how lean cows could feed upon fat cows. They could not make out its meaning because unlike Yusuf they had no access to wahyu.

When the king asked a courtier regarding his dream, he immediately thought of Yusuf because Yusuf was the one who had correctly interpreted his dream before, that he would eventually be released from imprisonment. The courtier was one of two persons accompanying Yusuf in prison. The other person, true to his dream as interpreted by Yusuf, had been murdered.

The king upon recommendation from his courtier, approached Yusuf, addressing him as siddiq. It was in fact Yusuf's first accolade. It is a title which is specially reserved for anbiya. Sadiq means one who is honest. Siddiq is a person who is very honest, one whose honesty is incomparable, in his promise, speech or actions.

Apart from the anbiya Sayyidina Abu Bakar, Sayyidina Ali and Sayyidatina Aishah were among ordinary people who were known as siddiq. Sayyidna Ali once said "Ana siddiqul akbar" - I am the greatest of all siddiq. Sayyidina Abu Bakar was a siddiq because he trusted Prophet Muhammad by heart and not mentally. One may believe in someone or something using his mental faculty. But one who believes in anything or anyone with his heart shows that his beliefs surpass his mind. When Abu Jahal related to him of the Prophet's Israk and Mikraj experience, Sayyidina Abu Bakar believed it instantly. He even asked Abu Jahal to share the story publicly. Abu Bakar didn't  have a doubt that people might not believe Abu Jahal's account and that they would shy away from the deen. Habib Ali further said: Abu Bakar was not afraid because religion is not in need of man, but man is in need of religion.

We have the tendency to evaluate anything and everything using our brain. Know that the brain comes second. You should only use your brain to find the hikmah (lessons) of a thing even if it is beyond mental logic.You must first believe it in your heart. So again as-siddiq is one who believes with his heart and looks for hikmah using his brain to believe what his heart believes in.

Another lesson we should learn from the story of Yusuf is that we should only keep our hopes on Allah. While Yusuf was in prison with two other men (one of whom was the king's courtier) Yusuf said to the courtier: 'when you get a chance to get near the king, do mention me to him.' But Allah made the courtier forgot about Yusuf's request so he had to remain prisoned for three or five years after the courtier was freed. Yusuf had depended on the king to alter his fate instead of relying on Allah. That was a punishment for Yusuf.

We could learn the same lesson from the story of Nabi Musa. When Musa pleaded to Allah to cure his toothache, Allah guided him to a special tree for remedy and his pain was relieved. But when Musa did the same thing the second time around, the remedial concoction from the same tree could not remove his pain. So Musa lamented to Allah why it didn't work. Allah said: 'In the first incident, you had placed your trust in Me, but afterwards you trusted the tree instead!'

Habib Ali reminded us to always turn to Allah even if we think we know a solution to a problem. Whenever faced with a problem, do not ignore Allah for He is nearer to you than your jugular vein. Allah loves to hear your plea. Said one arrifin: 'Your whining at Allah is considered as though you are calling out one of His Names.'

If possible avoid telling anyone about your pain. If you must share with people, you should first make a plea to Allah. Nabi Yusuf was hoping that the king would free him. Nabi Yusuf did not ask from Allah, thus he was punished. Allah made him wait a few years before he was finally released from prison.

We learned from the surah that the king had summoned the women who had implicated Yusuf and they eventually confessed of their wrongdoings. Nabi Yusuf was concerned about his reputation. He wanted to be freed for his innocence and not merely based on the king's pardon. Nabi Yusuf didn't want to be seen as betraying the king who had been kind towards him. It is a big jarimah (offence) to be disloyal to the person we are close to, whom we love and respect.

In fact, protecting one's dignity/reputation is one of the five requirements of shariah.  The other four requisites of maqasid shari'ah are: religion (one cannot commit syirik); intellect (one cannot harm one's brain by taking alcohol or drugs); posessions (one cannot steal, bribe etc); an-nafas (one is not allowed to commit suicide).

The final lesson from these verses is that we should be wary of our lower nafs (inner soul). Nafs amarah is one whose nafs continually incite him to do evil. Zukaikha confessed of having seduced Yusuf. She admitted that she was being incited by her nafs. The nafs would always strive to seek gratification. We also learned how dangerous nafs is from the story of Khabil and Habil.  Our nafs can have a forceful effect on us - fataw wa ta'at - meaning it would force you to obey its desires. Many of us are defeated by our nafs. It is important that we fight (mujahadah) against it. The ariffin are known to fight their desires even if it is for something that is mubah (permissible), let alone makruh or haram. Whenever they have a strong desire to eat something they would simply refrain from eating it.

Know that there are six types of nafs. Nafs amarah bisu (one who enjoys commiting maksiat (the forbidden); nafs lawwamah (one who admonish his own mistakes); nafs mulhamah (one whom Allah gives tawfik or inspirations to do good); nafs mutmainnah (one who is at peace and enjoys doing good deeds); nafs radhiah (one who doesn't rely on his ibadah and is pleased with whatever that is destined for him); nafs mardhiah (one on whom Allah is pleased).

Concluding the lesson, Habib Ali made a long prayer so that Allah would grant us nafs mutmainnah, radhiah or mardhiah.
Wallahu a'lam. May I be forgiven for any unintentional error or omissions. The majlis was hosted by:

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