Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam) and his call to Tawheed

call to tawheed

Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam)

The noble one, son of the noble one, son of the noble one. About whom Allaah sent down a long Surah relating his noble life to us, and its stages, from his childhood to his death, and how his circumstances changed, and the difficulties that he faced, and how he faced everything with the Strength of Prophethood and his patient perseverance, wisdom and mildness.

[As indicated in the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar, radhiallaahu ‘anhumaa, from the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) that he said, “The noble one, son of the noble one, son of the noble one: Yusuf the son of Ya’qoob, the son of Ishaaq, the son of Ibrahim, ‘alayhis-salaam.” Reported by al-Bukhari (Eng. trans. 4/390/596), and Ahmad in al-Musnad (2/96), and also the hadeeth of Abu Hurairah, radhiallaahu ‘anhu, that Allaah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) was asked about the noblest of the people, so he said, “Those most pious and obedient to Allaah.” They said, “It is not this that we are asking about.” He said, “Then the noblest of the people is Yusuf, the Prophet of Allaah, son of the Prophet of Allaah, son of the Prophet of Allaah, son of the chosen and beloved Friend of Allaah.” They said, “It is not this that we are asking about.” He said, “Then is it about the origins of the Arabs that you ask? Then the people are of various origins. The best of them in the times of ignorance are the best of them in Islaam when they attain knowledge and understanding in the religion.” Reported by al-Bukhari (Eng. trans. 4/390/597).]

Yusuf (alayhis salaam), saw the corrupt outlook of the Pharaohs in Egypt and their oppression, and he knew the beliefs of the nation amongst whom he lived. He knew the corruption of their beliefs and their idolatry, which led them to take idols and cattle as gods to worship besides Allaah. The story of this noble Prophet, ‘alayhis-salaam, is long, and from it, we will examine the story of his imprisonment and his da’wah at that time. Allaah, the Most High, says,

“And there entered with him two young men in the prison. One of them said: “Verily, I saw myself (in a dream) pressing wine.” The other said: “Verily, I saw myself (in a dream) carrying bread on my head and birds were eating thereof.” (They said): “Inform us of the interpretation of this. Verily, we think you are one of the Muhsinun. He said: “No food will come to you (in wakefulness or in dream) as your provision, but I will inform (in wakefulness) its interpretation before it (the food) comes. This is of that which my Lord has taught me. Verily, I have abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter (i.e. the Kan’aniun of Egypt who were polytheists and used to worship sun and other false deities). “And I have followed the religion of my fathers, – Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaque (Isaac) and Ya’qub (Jacob)], and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to Allah. This is from the Grace of Allah to us and to mankind, but most men thank not (i.e. they neither believe in Allah, nor worship Him). “O two companions of the prison! Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible? “You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged), you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. The command (or the judgement) is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e. His Monotheism), that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not.” [Surah Yusuf, 12:36-40]

This noble Prophet Yusuf (alayhis salaam), lived in their palaces and was therefore well aware of the corruption of their administration and their rulers. He experienced at first hand their plots, their oppression, their unjust persecution and imprisonment by them. Furthermore he lived amongst an idolatrous nation who worshipped idols, cattle and stars. So where was correction to begin? What was the starting point?

Did he begin calling to Allaah, whilst he was wrongfully imprisoned along with others who were oppressed like him, by inciting them and rousing them against the despotic and tyrant rulers? This would be without a doubt a political response, and was an opportunity open to him. Or did he begin his call from the starting point adopted by his noble forefathers, and at the head of them Ibrahim (alayhis salaam), the chosen and beloved Friend of Allaah and the Imaam of the call to tawheed; which was the starting point for all the Messengers of Allaah? There is no doubt that the single way of correction and rectification in every time and place is the way of calling to correct aqeedah and tawheed and that all worship should be made purely and sincerely for Allaah alone.

Therefore Yusuf began from this starting point, following his noble fathers, proud of their aqeedah, and deriding and exposing the foolishness of the idolaters and their practice of taking idols, cattle and stars as lords to be worshipped besides Allaah.

So after clearly explaining this, and openly calling to tawheed and to rejection of shirk, he emphasised his call and his argument by his saying,

“..The command (or the judgement) is for none but Allah..” [Surah Yusuf, 12:40]

[This Aayah is one of the basic principles from the principles of tawheed, as Allaah has explained upon the tongue of Yusuf (alayhis salaam). What is most unfortunate is that you see that many of the political reformers have explained it in a way that is far removed from its primary meaning, that all worship is to be made purely and sincerely for Allaah alone, and have instead explained it to have a political meaning, which is establishment of the state which they claim will establish Allaah’s Sharee’ah upon the earth as His deputies/vicegerents. Then they go beyond bounds in this direction till they cause the people to forget the principal meaning of the Aayah, and they understand nothing from it except this new meaning, and there is no action and no ability except by the will of Allaah. They do the same with all or most of the Aayaat of tawheed.]

Then he explained this authority and command to mean the tawheed of Allaah, and that He alone is to be worshipped:

“…He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e. His Monotheism), that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not.” [Surah Yusuf, 12:40]

Also Yusuf (alayhis salaam), attained the highest position in this state whilst calling to the tawheed of Allaah and establishing the clear proofs for his call and his Prophethood. Allaah, the Most High, says, in explanation of this,

“And the king said: “Bring him to me that I may attach him to my person.” Then, when he spoke to him, he said: “Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.” [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: “Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge” (as a minister of finance in Egypt, in place of Al-‘Aziz who was dead at that time).” [Surah Yusuf, 12:54-55]

[Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, rahimahullaah, said in al-Hisbah (p.7), “Likewise Yusuf the truthful and honest, was a minister for the Pharaoh of Egypt, and he and his people were mushriks. So Yusuf performed whatever justice and good he was able to and called them as far as possible to correct eemaan.”]

And he said, giving thanks to his Lord and Protector,

“”My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me the interpretation of dreams; The (only) Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Wali (Protector, Helper, Supporter, Guardian, etc.) in this world and in the Hereafter, cause me to die as a Muslim (the one submitting to Your Will), and join me with the righteous.”” [Surah Yusuf, 12:101]

Furthermore Allaah says in explanation of his da’wah, upon the tongue of the Believer from the family of the Pharaoh:

“And indeed Yusuf (Joseph) did come to you (before Musa), in times gone by, with clear signs, but you ceased not to doubt in that which he did bring to you, till when he died you said: “No Messenger will Allah send after him.” Thus Allah leaves astray him who is a Musrif (a polytheist, oppressor, a criminal, sinner who commit great sins) and a Murtab (one who doubts Allah’s Warning and His Oneness).” [Surah Ghaafir, 40:34]

So from the knowledge to be learned from the life-story of Yusuf (alayhis salaam), which is presented to us in those noble Aayaat is that the call to tawheed is something very essential. Furthermore there is to be no leniency or relaxation in fighting against shirk, it is not permissible to keep silent about it, whatever the circumstances of the caller to Allaah; rather it is not permissible for any Muslim to ever accept it or be relaxed about it. So this shows the high station of aqeedah, and its importance with Allaah, and with His Prophets and His Messenger. It also shows the very great difference and the distance between it and the details of Islaam.

It is not permissible for the Muslim, particularly the caller, to take up any position which violates his aqeedah or is contrary to it, or that he is a fortune-teller, those who are Mushriks, or that he is a custodian of their idols. If he does any of this then he is one of the misguided Mushriks. With regard to the legislative aspect, if the Islamic state is established, it must apply the Sharee’ah of Allaah, otherwise:

“…And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the Kafirun (i.e. disbelievers – of a lesser degree as they do not act on Allah’s Laws).” [Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:44]

The unbelief (kufr) here is explained in detail by the scholars of Islaam, from the Companions and others, that it may be major Kufr, when the person disdains the Sharee’ah of Allaah and declares it lawful to judge by something else, and it may be lesser Kufr (i.e., that which does not take a person out of Islaam) when he does not declare it lawful to judge by other than it, but gives in to his desires and because of that judges by other than what Allaah sent down.

However when the Islamic state has not been established, then Allaah does not a burden a soul with more than it is capable of. So the Muslim may take up a position in a non-Muslim state with the condition that he establishes justice, and that he does not obey them ina matter which involves disobedience to Allaah, and does not judge by other than what Allaah sent down. This was what the Prophet of Allaah, Yusuf, did. He took up a position as a deputy for a unbelieving king, and he did not judge according to his laws:

“He could not take his brother by the law of the king (as a slave), except that Allah willed it. (So Allah made the brothers to bind themselves with their way of “punishment, i.e. enslaving of a thief.”)” [Surah Yusuf, 12:76]

Furthermore, he established justice between the subjects and called them to the tawheed of Allaah. So this contains a decisive reply to those who give little importance to the aqeedah of Tahweed. Those who gloss over and accommodate when it comes to the shirk which has filled the world, and they regard the callers to tawheed and the enemies of shirk with contempt and scorn. They turn up their noses and are too proud to ‘lower’ themselves to the level of the callers to tawheed, and they are very wily and astute concerning political affairs, but nothing is more burdensome and disagreeable to their hearing and their hearts than listening to or saying a word regarding tawheed or shirk. These types of callers have caused themselves to fall into a deep abyss, whilst they think that they have reached the highest peaks. Can a people ever prosper whose stance with regard to the call of the Prophets is like this, unless they sincerely repent to Allaah from what they are upon?


The above is excerpted from the book : ‘The Methodology of the Prophets in Calling to Allaah – that is the way of wisdom and intelligence” – by Shaykh Rabee’ ibn Haadee al-Madkhalee hafidhahullaah, translated by Dawud Burbank rahimahullah.

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