When I was younger, one of the surahs I remember being really fascinated by was Surah Yusuf. Looking back, I now realize why. You see, Surah Yusuf is a life story. It’s the only surah in the Qur’aan that is a life story from start to finish, all narrated in one go. As a young, ambitious eighteen-year-old at the time, it inspired me to dream my own story. It lit me up in such a way that even now, years later, glimpses of that inspiration nudge at me when life gets the better of me. It reminds me that I too, can have my own success story.
The story of Yusuf (peace be upon him) starts with a scene of him spending quality one-on-one time with his beloved father. The two share a deep and loving bond. The father, Prophet Ya’qoob (peace be upon him), recognizes that the sibling rivalry in the family runs deep and that Yusuf’s brothers may harm him out of their intense jealousy of him. Later, it becomes the case indeed and his brothers try to get rid of him by throwing him into a well. So, here’s young Yusuf now, a child, shown malice by his own brothers and who was now separated from his father and family. Imagine how traumatic this is for a child!
To make matters worse, he’s then kidnapped by travelers passing by the well to a faraway land and sold to a couple there. He had no choice but to adapt and accept his new life.
Later, as he’s all grown up, the lady of the house turns on him and tries to seduce him! With his unwavering eemaan and consciousness of Allaah, he dodges her and makes for the door. His master, her husband, believes him as the evidence is in his favor, but the lady continues making life difficult for him until there was no way out except that Yusuf be imprisoned and taken out of the picture. So, there he was in jail, falsely accused of trying to seduce his master’s wife!
While in prison, he uses his gift of interpreting dreams to help out two fellow inmates. The one he predicted to be let free soon was supposed to remind the ruler of the time of Yusuf and his innocence. But his forgetfulness after being released from prison led to Yusuf spending a couple more years in prison!
Later, the king has a dream that he needs to get interpreted ASAP and the guy released from prison a couple years earlier finally remembers Yusuf – the dream interpreter! Yusuf (peace be upon him) then interprets the ruler’s dream and is finally released, his innocence proven after the lady of the household admits that she was the one seducing him and not the other way around. He is then promoted to Finance Minister in the kingdom and later, reunites with his family. A joyous and happy ending!
On his whole journey of life, he kept his connection to Allaah, worked hard for His sake, and stood resolute in the face of all the tests and trials that came his way. As a result of his sincerity and hard-work, Allaah honored him so much and brought him out victorious. Victorious over his difficulties, trauma, pain, and over all those who tried to harm him!
Allaah took him through all that – abandonment, fear, grief, the pain of being unjustly accused, and imprisonment – and gave him ultimate success in the end! He won Allaah’s Pleasure, making him successful in the ultimate sense and Allaah made him honored, loved, and respected in the dunya! This is Yusuf (peace be upon him)’s success story.
You see, every single one of us has been given the chance of life just like Yusuf (peace be upon him). Each of us have our own unique blessings, gifts, family issues, trials, struggles, and baggage in life. Your life can never be the same as another person on this Earth. Each of us has been given uniquely crafted blessings and trials for us to write our own success story.
In this journey of cradle to the grave, what are you aiming for? Through the ups and downs of life, through the calm waters and rocky waves, how ambitious are you? Are you aiming high like Yusuf (peace be upon him)? What’s driving you on the lazy Sundays and what dreams are keeping you awake at night?
How are you filling your books? What’s your story?