Asking for ‘Aafiyah: Tafsir al-Baghawi, al-Qurtubi, & al-Aloosi

In surah Yusuf, Allah informs us that when Yusuf was being tested by the wife of his master and the women of Egypt, he supplicated to his Lord by saying:

قَالَ رَ‌بِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِي إِلَيْهِ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَصْرِ‌فْ عَنِّي كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.” [12:33]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi mentioned:

وقيل : لو لم يقل : السجن أحب إلي لم يبتل بالسجن ، والأولى بالمرء أن يسأل الله العافية .ـ

Some say: if only he had not said

السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

prison is more to my liking

then he would not have been tested with prison. And the most appropriate thing for a person to ask Allah for is ‘aafiyah – the absence of any ailment or troubles.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 4/240]

Imam Abu Muhammad al-Qurtubi also commented on this phrase by saying:

ـ ” أحب إلي ” أي أسهل علي وأهون من الوقوع في المعصية ; لا أن دخول السجن مما يحب على التحقيق . وحكي أن يوسف – عليه السلام – لما قال : السجن أحب إلي أوحى الله إليه ” يا يوسف ! أنت حبست نفسك حيث قلت السجن أحب إلي ، ولو قلت العافية أحب إلي لعوفيت ” . ـ

Allah’s statement

 أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

… more to my liking …

i.e. that it easier and less weighty on me than to fall into sins, not that going to prison is something that he would want otherwise.

And it has been transmitted that when Yusuf said:

السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

… prison is more to my liking…

then Allah communicated to him via revelation, “O Yusuf, you have imprisoned yourself by saying ‘prison is more to my liking’. If you had said ‘‘aafiyah is more to my liking’ then you would have received ‘aafiyah.”

Al-Aloosi expanded on this point in his tafsir by writing:

 وفي أثر ذكره القرطبي أنه عليه السلام لما قال: رب السجن أحب إلي إلخ أوحى الله تعالى إليه: يا يوسف أنت جنيت على نفسك ولو قلت: العافية أحب إلي عوفيت، ولذلك رد رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم على من كان يسأل الصبر، فقد روى الترمذي عن معاذ بن جبل عنه عليه الصلاة والسلام أنه سمع رجلا وهو يقول: “اللهم إني أسألك الصبر، فقال صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم: سألت الله تعالى البلاء فاسأله العافية”.ـ

It comes in a narration which al-Qurtubi mentioned that when Yusuf said,

رَ‌بِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ

My Lord, prison is more to my liking …

then Allah revealed to him, “O Yusuf, you have brought this upon yourself. If you had said ‘‘aafiyah is more beloved to me’ then you would have been granted ‘aafiyah.”

And it was for this reason that Prophet repudiated the one who was supplicating for sabr – patience. al-Tirmidhi narrated from Mu’adh ibn Jabal that the Prophet heard a man who was saying, “O Allah, I ask you for sabr,” so the Prophet said, “You have asked Allah for a trial; instead ask Him for ‘aafiyah.”

[Tafsir al-Aloosi 12/236]

Read more tafsir of surah Yusuf here

See also: The Sabr of Choice and Sabr of Necessity: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Subtleties of the Supplications of Ayyub and Yusuf – ibn al-Qayyim

See also: Avoid the sins which prevent forgiveness and the acceptance of du’a: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: Those who come to Allah with a Pure Heart: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Learn more about these explainers of the Qur’an with our Mufassir Profiles

2 thoughts on “Asking for ‘Aafiyah: Tafsir al-Baghawi, al-Qurtubi, & al-Aloosi

  1. Pingback: The Sabr of Choice and Sabr of Necessity: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Subtleties of the Supplications of Ayyub and Yusuf – ibn al-Qayyim | Tulayhah

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