English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 12: Yusuf — Joseph (Revealed at Makkah: 12 sections, 111 verses)

Section 2 (Verses 12:7–12:20): Plot against Joseph by his Brothers


لَقَدۡ کَانَ فِیۡ یُوۡسُفَ وَ اِخۡوَتِہٖۤ اٰیٰتٌ لِّلسَّآئِلِیۡنَ ﴿۷﴾

12:7 Surely in Joseph and his brothers there are signs for the inquirers.1

اِذۡ قَالُوۡا لَیُوۡسُفُ وَ اَخُوۡہُ اَحَبُّ اِلٰۤی اَبِیۡنَا مِنَّا وَ نَحۡنُ عُصۡبَۃٌ ؕ اِنَّ اَبَانَا لَفِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنِۣ ۚ﴿ۖ۸﴾

12:8 When they said: Certainly Joseph and his brother2 are dearer to our father than we, though we are a (strong) company. Surely our father is in clear error —

اقۡتُلُوۡا یُوۡسُفَ اَوِ اطۡرَحُوۡہُ اَرۡضًا یَّخۡلُ لَکُمۡ وَجۡہُ اَبِیۡکُمۡ وَ تَکُوۡنُوۡا مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہٖ قَوۡمًا صٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۹﴾

12:9 Kill Joseph or banish him to some (other) land, so that your father’s regard may be exclusively for you, and after that you may be a righteous people.3

قَالَ قَآئِلٌ مِّنۡہُمۡ لَا تَقۡتُلُوۡا یُوۡسُفَ وَ اَلۡقُوۡہُ فِیۡ غَیٰبَتِ الۡجُبِّ یَلۡتَقِطۡہُ بَعۡضُ السَّیَّارَۃِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ فٰعِلِیۡنَ ﴿۱۰﴾

12:10 A speaker among them said: Do not kill Joseph, but, if you are going to do anything, cast him down to the bottom of the well. Some of the travellers may pick him up.

قَالُوۡا یٰۤاَبَانَا مَا لَکَ لَا تَاۡمَنَّا عَلٰی یُوۡسُفَ وَ اِنَّا لَہٗ لَنٰصِحُوۡنَ ﴿۱۱﴾

12:11 They said: Our father, why do you not trust us with Joseph, and surely we are his sincere well-wishers?

اَرۡسِلۡہُ مَعَنَا غَدًا یَّرۡتَعۡ وَ یَلۡعَبۡ وَ اِنَّا لَہٗ لَحٰفِظُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲﴾

12:12 Send him with us tomorrow that he may enjoy himself and play, and we shall surely guard him well.

قَالَ اِنِّیۡ لَیَحۡزُنُنِیۡۤ اَنۡ تَذۡہَبُوۡا بِہٖ وَ اَخَافُ اَنۡ یَّاۡکُلَہُ الذِّئۡبُ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ عَنۡہُ غٰفِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳﴾

12:13 He said: Indeed it grieves me that you should take him away and I fear that the wolf may eat him while you are careless of him.

قَالُوۡا لَئِنۡ اَکَلَہُ الذِّئۡبُ وَ نَحۡنُ عُصۡبَۃٌ اِنَّاۤ اِذًا لَّخٰسِرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾

12:14 They said: If the wolf should eat him while we are so many, we should then certainly be losers.

فَلَمَّا ذَہَبُوۡا بِہٖ وَ اَجۡمَعُوۡۤا اَنۡ یَّجۡعَلُوۡہُ فِیۡ غَیٰبَتِ الۡجُبِّ ۚ وَ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡہِ لَتُنَبِّئَنَّہُمۡ بِاَمۡرِہِمۡ ہٰذَا وَ ہُمۡ لَا یَشۡعُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾

12:15 So when they took him away and agreed to put him down at the bottom of the pit, We revealed to him: You will certainly inform them of this affair of theirs while they do not realize.4

وَ جَآءُوۡۤ اَبَاہُمۡ عِشَآءً یَّبۡکُوۡنَ ؕ﴿۱۶﴾

12:16 And they came to their father at nightfall, weeping.

قَالُوۡا یٰۤاَبَانَاۤ اِنَّا ذَہَبۡنَا نَسۡتَبِقُ وَ تَرَکۡنَا یُوۡسُفَ عِنۡدَ مَتَاعِنَا فَاَکَلَہُ الذِّئۡبُ ۚ وَ مَاۤ اَنۡتَ بِمُؤۡمِنٍ لَّنَا وَ لَوۡ کُنَّا صٰدِقِیۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾

12:17 They said: Our father, we went off racing with one another and left Joseph by our goods, so the wolf ate him. And you will not believe us, though we are truthful.

وَ جَآءُوۡ عَلٰی قَمِیۡصِہٖ بِدَمٍ کَذِبٍ ؕ قَالَ بَلۡ سَوَّلَتۡ لَکُمۡ اَنۡفُسُکُمۡ اَمۡرًا ؕ فَصَبۡرٌ جَمِیۡلٌ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ الۡمُسۡتَعَانُ عَلٰی مَا تَصِفُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾

12:18 And they came with false blood on his shirt. He said: Indeed, your souls have made it a light matter for you. So patience is best. And Allah is He Whose help is sought against what you describe.5

وَ جَآءَتۡ سَیَّارَۃٌ فَاَرۡسَلُوۡا وَارِدَہُمۡ فَاَدۡلٰی دَلۡوَہٗ ؕ قَالَ یٰبُشۡرٰی ہٰذَا غُلٰمٌ ؕ وَ اَسَرُّوۡہُ بِضَاعَۃً ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ عَلِیۡمٌۢ بِمَا یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۹﴾

12:19 And travellers came, and they sent their water-drawer and he let down his bucket. He said: Good news! This is a youth. And they concealed him as an article of merchandise, and Allah knew what they did.

وَ شَرَوۡہُ بِثَمَنٍۭ بَخۡسٍ دَرَاہِمَ مَعۡدُوۡدَۃٍ ۚ وَ کَانُوۡا فِیۡہِ مِنَ الزَّاہِدِیۡنَ ﴿٪۲۰﴾

12:20 And they sold him for a small price, a few pieces of silver, and they showed no desire for him.


  1. By inquirers are meant people who inquired about the Holy Prophet, who was at this time being persecuted most severely by the people of Makkah. They are told in plain words that the story of the Prophet and his opponents was the story of Joseph and his brothers.
  2. Benjamin, his brother by the same mother, is meant here.
  3. The conspiracy of the Quraish against the Holy Prophet is referred to in the Quran in the words: “And when those who disbelieved devised plans against you that they might confine you or kill you or drive you away” (8:30).
  4. The essential difference between the version of this story given in the Bible and the version in the Quran is that while the Bible narrates it as a simple story, the Quran preserves in it the spiritual element.
  5. The Quran represents Jacob as doubting from the very first the sincerity of Joseph’s brothers, but not so the Bible. Again, according to the Quran, Joseph relates his vision to his father, who is at once apprehensive of the envy of his brothers, if they are apprised of it; but according to the Bible, Jacob himself rebuked Joseph for his dream. Besides several discrepancies, the Bible narrative represents Jacob as an ordinary man, while the Quran represents him as a prophet.