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 4 (Verses 12:30–12:35): Joseph is Imprisoned


وَ قَالَ نِسۡوَۃٌ فِی الۡمَدِیۡنَۃِ امۡرَاَتُ الۡعَزِیۡزِ تُرَاوِدُ فَتٰىہَا عَنۡ نَّفۡسِہٖ ۚ قَدۡ شَغَفَہَا حُبًّا ؕ اِنَّا لَنَرٰىہَا فِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿۳۰﴾

12:30 And women in the city said: The chief’s wife seeks to seduce her slave. He has indeed affected her deeply with (his) love. Truly we see her in clear error.

فَلَمَّا سَمِعَتۡ بِمَکۡرِہِنَّ اَرۡسَلَتۡ اِلَیۡہِنَّ وَ اَعۡتَدَتۡ لَہُنَّ مُتَّکَاً وَّ اٰتَتۡ کُلَّ وَاحِدَۃٍ مِّنۡہُنَّ سِکِّیۡنًا وَّ قَالَتِ اخۡرُجۡ عَلَیۡہِنَّ ۚ فَلَمَّا رَاَیۡنَہٗۤ اَکۡبَرۡنَہٗ وَ قَطَّعۡنَ اَیۡدِیَہُنَّ وَ قُلۡنَ حَاشَ لِلّٰہِ مَا ہٰذَا بَشَرًا ؕ اِنۡ ہٰذَاۤ اِلَّا مَلَکٌ کَرِیۡمٌ ﴿۳۱﴾

12:31 So when she heard of their scheming,1 she sent for them and prepared for them a feast, and gave each of them a knife, and said (to Joseph): Come out to them. So when they saw him, they thought him great, and cut their hands (in amazement), and said: Holy Allah! This is not a mortal! This is but a noble angel.2

قَالَتۡ فَذٰلِکُنَّ الَّذِیۡ لُمۡتُنَّنِیۡ فِیۡہِ ؕ وَ لَقَدۡ رَاوَدۡتُّہٗ عَنۡ نَّفۡسِہٖ فَاسۡتَعۡصَمَ ؕ وَ لَئِنۡ لَّمۡ یَفۡعَلۡ مَاۤ اٰمُرُہٗ لَیُسۡجَنَنَّ وَ لَیَکُوۡنًا مِّنَ الصّٰغِرِیۡنَ ﴿۳۲﴾

12:32 She said: This is he about whom you blamed me. And certainly I sought to seduce him, but he was firm in self-restraint. And if he does not do what I order him, he shall certainly be imprisoned, and he shall certainly be degraded.

قَالَ رَبِّ السِّجۡنُ اَحَبُّ اِلَیَّ مِمَّا یَدۡعُوۡنَنِیۡۤ اِلَیۡہِ ۚ وَ اِلَّا تَصۡرِفۡ عَنِّیۡ کَیۡدَہُنَّ اَصۡبُ اِلَیۡہِنَّ وَ اَکُنۡ مِّنَ الۡجٰہِلِیۡنَ ﴿۳۳﴾

12:33 He said: My Lord, the prison is dearer to me than that to which they invite me. And if You do not turn away their intrigue from me, I shall yearn towards them and be one of the ignorant.

فَاسۡتَجَابَ لَہٗ رَبُّہٗ فَصَرَفَ عَنۡہُ کَیۡدَہُنَّ ؕ اِنَّہٗ ہُوَ السَّمِیۡعُ الۡعَلِیۡمُ ﴿۳۴﴾

12:34 So his Lord accepted his prayer and turned away their intrigue from him. Surely He is the Hearer, the Knower.

ثُمَّ بَدَا لَہُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ مَا رَاَوُا الۡاٰیٰتِ لَیَسۡجُنُنَّہٗ حَتّٰی حِیۡنٍ ﴿٪۳۵﴾

12:35 Then it occurred to them after they had seen the signs that they should imprison him for a while.3


  1. Some think that she knew that certain women had circulated the news with the object of getting a chance to see Joseph.
  2. The Egyptians were a superstitious and polytheistic people, and any­­thing strange, or any human being about whom they witnessed anything won­der­­­­ful, was considered by them to be a god.
  3. There is nothing to show that Joseph was cast into prison on a charge of having committed an outrage on that woman. As he was proved guiltless of that charge, it is very likely that some other accusation was brought against him; and more probably an autocratic ruler needed no excuse for putting an innocent man into prison. By signs must be understood the signs of Joseph’s innocence.