Tafsir by Abdur Raheem As-Saranbi
In this ayah Allah (swt) tells us how Yusuf (as) continues his dawah to the two prisoners.
The reality of this dawah is nothing but a call to Allah (swt). In the end all that you are calling the
people towards is the m’arifa of Allah (swt). The knowledge and the realization of the Lord. This is
the reality of this dawah. So this is what Yusuf (as) does in this ayah. He (as) calls these two
young men to Allah (swt). He (as) describes Allah (swt) for them. He (as) makes them reality of
their Creator. Once they realize this reality then they will see how nothing else matters except
complete submission to it.
Yusuf (as) begins this ayah by saying “O my companions of the prison”. Notice even
the way in which Yusuf (as) addresses them. He (as) refers to them as his companions in the
prison. This is a word that denotes friendship and nearness. This is the relationship that Yusuf
(as) builds with these two prisoners. He (as) does not hate them because they are not Muslim.
He (as) does not have rancor and malice towards them. He (as) knows that they are lost souls
and that they are in need of the guidance that he (as) brings them from their Lord. He (as) knows
that the only reason why they have not submitted to Allah (swt) is because their society has made
them ignorant and blind to Him (swt). That is why he (as) feels that he (as) needs to guide them.
So he (as) treats them with kindness and respect. He (as) wants to bring them closer to himself
so that perchance they would be attentive to what he (as) has to say about Allah (swt).
This is how we must also be towards the people who we carry dawah to. Be they
Muslims who we are reminding about Allah (swt) or non-Muslims who we are informing about
Allah (swt). We want the people to come closer and closer to Allah (swt). We want them to
worship and serve Him (swt) just like we are doing. We do not want anything to prevent them
from knowing their Creator. Especially not our own behavior. Imagine how terrible it would be for 145
you if you prevented someone from knowing Allah (swt) just because of your crude behavior.
Because of your arrogance and your pride. Because of your hatred and your looking down on
them. This was not the way of the Prophet (saw). He (saw) treated everyone with honor and
respect, even though he (saw) was much better a creation than them. If there was any human
being who had the right to look down on others and think of himself as better than others then it
would have been the Prophet (saw). He (saw) had been informed first hand by Allah (swt) that he
(saw) was the best of creation and that he (saw) was His (swt)’s most beloved. So the Prophet
(saw) truly was the best. But this did not cause him (saw) to be arrogant or proud. Rather he
(saw) was humble and kind even to the slaves and the poor. Such was a heart that truly knew
Allah (swt). Only if you try to inculcate in yourself such a heart will you be among those who can
call to the Real and the True. How can you impart to others the m’arifa of Allah (swt) if you
yourself do not have it? Know that such m’arifa will never enter a heart that is arrogant or proud
or heart that has hatred for the creation of Allah (swt).
Of course the non-Muslims can never be our brothers like the Muslims are, but we should
still treat them with kindness and respect. We should still respect them because they are also the
children of Adam (as) and they are also the creation of Allah (swt). We should still try to become
closer to them so that they will sincerely listen to what we have to say. Only when it becomes
clear that they have rejected the Message that we are presenting should we then turn away from
them. Until then we need to have Ihsan towards them and we should continue calling them to
their Creator. The Real and the True. The Purpose of all existence.
In the next part of the ayah Yusuf (as) asks these two prisoners a question. He (as) asks
of them “are many arguing lords better or Allah, the One, the Conqueror”. The Arabic word
rabb, which we have translated here as “lord” actually gives a far deeper meaning that this. It also
gives the meaning of “king” and “sovereign”, it also gives the meaning of “sustainer” and
“provider” and it also gives the meaning of “master” and “owner”. All of these meanings are
present in this one Arabic word. So Yusuf (as) presents two alternatives for these prisoners. He
(as) asks them if many different lords arguing with each other are better or Allah (swt), then he
(as) describes for them two of Allah (swt)’s most Majestic Names. 146
Let us consider these two alternatives for ourselves and see which of them is better. Are
many arguing lords better or is Allah (swt)? Would you rather have many different masters
arguing with each other or would you rather have Allah (swt) as your Master? Is it better to have
many kings fighting with each other or is Allah (swt) better as King? Is it better to have many
legislators arguing with each other or is Allah (swt) the true Sovereign? Of course the answer to
this should be obvious, but how many people today are ignorant of this fact. Just like the people
today are heedless of this fact, the people were also heedless of it at the time of Yusuf (as). This
is why he (as) poses this question to these two prisoners.
This ayah is a powerful evidence as to why democracy can never be an acceptable form
of government in Islam. What is democracy except many lords arguing with each other? The
people elect representatives to go to congress and parliament. What then are these
representatives except lords arguing with each other? They will argue and wrangle with each
other only to pass a single law. Each of them wants to do what is in his agenda. Each of them
only wants to bring the laws that they want. Each of them only looks to the interests of those that
helped them get elected. They rarely think about what is best for the people. They rarely think
about what is just and fair. This is why man can never be the legislator. This is why Allah (swt)
has forbidden man from legislating in this Din. So how sad is it that there are Muslims today who
are calling for democracy? They should come back and read this ayah and think about its
meaning. They should realize that this ayah is yet another evidence as to why the only
government acceptable to Allah (swt) is the Islamic State.
Not only does this ayah give the meaning that Allah (swt) should be the Sovereign for the
Muslims but it also gives the meaning that He (swt) should be the Sovereign for all mankind.
There should not be any other lords beside Allah (swt) because He (swt) is the One and the
Conqueror. How beautiful would it be if all mankind lived under the Law of Allah (swt)? This does
not mean that the people should be forced to become Muslim, rather it means that the
Sovereignty over the earth should be return to its Creator. This is where Sovereignty belongs.
This ayah testifies to that fact and this entire universe testifies to that fact. How wonderful would
that be if this should happen. There would be no more wars. There would be no more petty 147
conflicts between the people. All of the resources of this world would be distributed evenly.
Everyone would have a fair share of the wealth. But best of all is that all of the people will be
given the chance to correctly receive the Message that their Creator has sent them. How
wonderful would that be? How much better would it be than the corrupt system we have today
where the many arguing lords hoard all of the wealth and resources for themselves and leave
nothing for the people. The arguing lords are busy fighting with each other and the people are left
to suffer. The people are suffering and they do not even realize how much they are suffering. May
Allah (swt) save us all!
In the final part of this ayah Yusuf (as) describes two of Allah (swt)’s most Majestic
Names and these Names tell us why He (swt) should be the Lord for all creation. Yusuf (as)
describes Allah (swt) here as “the One, the Conqueror”. Allah (swt) is the One in that He (swt) is
the only One like Him (swt). Who else is there who is like Allah (swt)? He (swt) is the One and
Only. Is there anyone else who is the Creator? Is there anyone else who is the Sustainer? Is
there anyone else with all of the Names of Perfection? Is there anyone else who is the source of
everything? So how then can anyone else claim to be sovereign besides He (swt)? Allah (swt) is
also the Conqueror. Allah (swt) is the One Who defeats and overpowers all else. There is no one
who can defeat Allah (swt). There is no one who can even try and take His (swt)’s Sovereignty
from Him (swt). There is no might nor power except with Allah (swt), so how then can anyone
stand a chance against Him (swt)? Once you realize that Allah (swt) is One and that He (swt)
conquers and subdues all else, how then can you ever desire a lord besides He (swt)?
So we see in this ayah that Yusuf (as) is not merely telling these prisoners that Allah
(swt) should be the only God to worship, but he (as) is also telling them that He (swt) should be
the only Sovereign to obey. This meaning is clear from the ayah. How sad is it then that today
many so-called Muslims use this Surah to justify a government other than the Islamic State?
Insha Allah we will come to the ayahs that they use to justify kufr governments and Insha Allah
we will show how their understating of these ayahs is wrong. Whereas this ayah and several
other ayahs in the Quran clearly show that the only Allah (swt) can be the Sovereign.