Consideration is given to the completeness of the conclusion, not the defects of the beginning

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di authored a small book entitled Benefits Extracted from the Story of Yusuf (‘alaihi al-salaam). Composed of fifty chapters each detailing a specific benefit, he dedicated chapter six to the following topic:

الفائدة السادسة : العبرة في حال العبد بكمال النهاية

The Sixth Benefit: The Consideration of the slave’s state is according to the completeness of the conclusion

ومنها : أن العبرة في حال العبد بكمال النهاية ، لا بنقص البداية ، وذلك أن إخوة يوسف جرى منهم ما جرى من هذه الجرائم ، لكن في آخر أمرهم ونهاية تابوا إلى الله ، وطلبو السماح من أخيهم يوسف ومن والديهم الاستغفار ، فحصل لهم السماح التام والعفو الكامل فعفا الله عنهم و أوصلهم إلى الكمال اللائق بهم . ـ

And one of the benefits is: that the consideration of the slave’s condition is given to the completeness of his conclusion, not according to the deficiency of his beginning. That is because the brothers of Yusuf did what they did of their crimes, however in the end they repented to Allah, sought forgiveness from their brother Yusuf, and sought for their parents to seek Allah’s forgiveness for them. So he granted them total forgiveness and complete pardon, so then Allah pardoned them and caused them to attain a level of excellence which was appropriate for them.

قيل إن الله جعلهم أنبياء . كما قاله غير واحد من المفسرين في تفسير الأسباط : إنهم إخوة يوسف الاثنا عشر . وقيل بل كانوا قوما صالحين ؛ كما قال آخرون ؛ وهو الظاهر ، لأن المراد بالأسباط قبائل بني إسرائيل ، وهم اسم لعموم القبيلة لأولاد يعقوب الاثنى عشر فهم آباء الأسباط وهم من الأسباط . ـ

It is said that Allah made them prophets. As more than one of the mufassiroon have said concerning the explanation of “al-Asbaat” – that they are the twelve brothers of Yusuf. And it is also said: no (they were not prophets), rather they were a righteous people, as other mufassiroon have said – and this is what is apparent, because the intended meaning of “al-Asbaat” is the tribes of Banu Israa’eel (the Children of Israa’eel), and that is the general name for the tribes of the twelve sons of Ya’qub. So they are the forefathers of al-Asbaat and they are included in al-Asbaat.

ولهذا في رؤيا يوسف رآهم بمنزلة الكواكب في إشراقها وعلوها ، وهذه صفة أهل العلم والإيمان والله أعلم . ولهذا تفسير رؤيا الشمس والقمر والكواكب بالعلماء والصالحين وقد تفسير بالملوك ، والمناسبة الظاهرة .ـ

And this is because in the dream of Yusuf, he saw them in the status of the major stars in the night sky in terms of their splendor and height, and that is the characteristic of the people of ‘ilm and eemaan – and Allah knows best. And because of this, the dream of seeing the sun and the moon and the major stars is explained (to correspond to) the scholars and the righteous ones, and perhaps the rulers – and this is what is apparent and fitting.

[Fawaa’id Mustanbitah min Qissah Yusuf pg. 35]

And in his earlier thematic tafsir, he also expounded on the same subject in a more compact form by writing:

ومنها: أن العبرة للعبد في حال كمال النهاية، لا بنقص البداية، فإن أولاد يعقوب عليهم السلام جرى منهم ما جرى في أول الأمر من الجرائم المتنوعة، ثم انتهى أمرهم إلى التوبة النصوح، والاعتراف التام، والعفو التام عنهم من يوسف ومن أبيهم، والدعاء لهم بالمغفرة والرحمة، وإذا سمح العبد بحق فالله أولى بذلك وهو خير الراحمين الغافرين، ـ

And from the benefits [of the story of Yusuf] is that the consideration of the slave is according to the completeness of the end, not according to flaws of the beginning. For verily what occurred of various crimes from the sons of Ya’qub (‘alaihim al-salaam) occurred at the outset, and then they ended their affair with sincere tawbah (repentance), complete recognition (of guilt) and complete pardoning towards them from Yusuf and their father, as well as their supplications for forgiveness and mercy (from Allah) towards them. And when a slave forgoes a right [e.g. to receive compensation or to punish his assailants], then it is more becoming of Allah to do that and He is the best of those who show mercy and of those who forgive.

ولهذا في أصح الأقوال إن الله جعلهم أنبياء لمحو ما سبق منهم، وكأنه ما كان، ولقوله: { وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰ إِبْرَ‌اهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ } [البقرة: 136]. وهم أولاد يعقوب الاثنا عشر وذريتهم، ومما يؤيد هذا أن في رؤيا يوسف أنهم هم الكواكب التي فيها النور والهداية، وهي من صفات الأنبياء، فإن لم يكونوا أنبياء فإنهم علماء عباد.

So for this reason – according to the most correct opinion – Allah made them prophets in order to erase what had previously emanated from them, and it seems that that is the case according to His statement:

وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰ إِبْرَ‌اهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ

And [we believe] in what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Ibrahim and Ismaa’eel and Ishaaq and Ya’qub and al-Asbaat [2:136]

And they [al-Asbaat] are the twelve sons of Ya’qub and their offspring. And from the things which support this is that in the dream of Yusuf they were the major stars in which there is light and guidance, and this is one of the attributes of the prophets. And if they were not prophets, then they were scholars and devoted worshipers.

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 386-387]

And earlier still, in his famous tafsir of the entire Qur’an, Imam al-Sa’di listed a number of benefits at the close of the story of Yusuf, including a similar point in its briefest form:

ومنها: أن العبرة في حال العبد بكمال النهاية، لا بنقص البداية، فإن أولاد يعقوب عليه السلام جرى منهم ما جرى في أول الأمر، مما هو أكبر أسباب النقص واللوم، ثم انتهى أمرهم إلى التوبة النصوح، والسماح التام من يوسف ومن أبيهم، والدعاء لهم بالمغفرة والرحمة، وإذا سمح العبد عن حقه، فالله خير الراحمين. ـ

And from the benefits is that consideration regarding the condition of a slave is according to the completeness of his conclusion, not the defects of his beginning. For indeed the sons of Ya’qub (‘alaihi al-salaam): what occurred from them occurred at the beginning of the matter – which was one of the most major causes of deficiency and blame – but then them concluded their affair with sincere tawbah, complete pardoning from Yusuf and from their parents, and beseeching them for forgiveness and mercy. And when the slave is lenient regarding his due rights, then Allah is the best of the ones who show mercy.

ولهذا – في أصح الأقوال – أنهم كانوا أنبياء لقوله تعالى: { وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ } وهم أولاد يعقوب الاثنا عشر وذريتهم، ومما يدل على ذلك أن في رؤيا يوسف، أنه رآهم كواكب نيرة، والكواكب فيها النور والهداية الذي من صفات الأنبياء، فإن لم يكونوا أنبياء فإنهم علماء هداة. ـ

And for this reason – according to the most correct of the various opinions – they were prophets according to Allah’s statement:

وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَ‌اهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ

And we revealed to Ibrahim, Ismaa’eel, Ishaaq, Ya’qub, and al-Asbaat [4:163]

And al-Asbaat are the twelve children of Ya’qub and their descendants. And among the things which prove this [i.e. that they were prophets] is that in the dream of Yusuf he saw them as luminous major stars, and major stars contain light and guidance in them which are among the characteristics of the prophets. And if they were not prophets, then they were noble scholars.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 472-473]

Translator’s Note: Imam al-Sa’di’s repeats a largely similar text in both his famous tafsir of the entire Qur’an, Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman (completed in 1354H/1935CE), and in his smaller thematic tafsirTaysir al-Lateef al-Manaan (completed in 1368H/1949CE), and in both of these works he states the the more correct opinion appears to be that the brothers of Yusuf became prophets. However, in his later work dedicated exclusively to the story of Yusuf, Fawaa’id Mustanbitah min Qissah Yusuf (completed in 1375H/1955CE), he shifts his opinion to favor the position that what is apparent is that they were righteous people, as can be seen in the initial quote.

It is well-known that one of distinguishing characteristics of the tafsir works of Imam al-Sa’di is their avoidance of delving into differences of opinion and instead presenting only the strongest opinion, except in cases where strong differences call for the mention of multiple positions. The fact that Imam al-Sa’di brings forth both positions in all three of these collected statements indicates the relative merits of both claims in his eyes and the lack of a conclusive answer. This is especially apparent in the language used in his final writing on the subject. And Allah knows best.

See also: “I will seek forgiveness for you from my Lord”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: “I complain of my grief and sorrow only to Allah”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: The Tawakkal and Understaning of Ya’qub (‘alaihis salaam)

See also: An encouragement towards rectification in the last days of Ramadan: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: Khutbah at the Close of the Year: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

5 thoughts on “Consideration is given to the completeness of the conclusion, not the defects of the beginning

  1. Pingback: Khutbah at the Close of the Year: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “Not for you is the decision…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Taking the Means to Allah’s Forgiveness: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: The Story of Yunus: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.