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 5 (Verses 12:36–12:42): Joseph’s Preaching in Prison


وَ دَخَلَ مَعَہُ السِّجۡنَ فَتَیٰنِ ؕ قَالَ اَحَدُہُمَاۤ اِنِّیۡۤ اَرٰىنِیۡۤ اَعۡصِرُ خَمۡرًا ۚ وَ قَالَ الۡاٰخَرُ اِنِّیۡۤ اَرٰىنِیۡۤ اَحۡمِلُ فَوۡقَ رَاۡسِیۡ خُبۡزًا تَاۡکُلُ الطَّیۡرُ مِنۡہُ ؕ نَبِّئۡنَا بِتَاۡوِیۡلِہٖ ۚ اِنَّا نَرٰىکَ مِنَ الۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ﴿۳۶﴾

12:36 And two youths entered the prison with him. One of them said: I saw myself pressing wine. And the other said: I saw myself carrying bread on my head, from which birds were eating. Inform us of its interpretation; surely we see you to be from among the doers of good.1

قَالَ لَا یَاۡتِیۡکُمَا طَعَامٌ تُرۡزَقٰنِہٖۤ اِلَّا نَبَّاۡتُکُمَا بِتَاۡوِیۡلِہٖ قَبۡلَ اَنۡ یَّاۡتِیَکُمَا ؕ ذٰلِکُمَا مِمَّا عَلَّمَنِیۡ رَبِّیۡ ؕ اِنِّیۡ تَرَکۡتُ مِلَّۃَ قَوۡمٍ لَّا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ ہُمۡ بِالۡاٰخِرَۃِ ہُمۡ کٰفِرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۷﴾

12:37 He said: The food with which you are fed shall not come to you, but I shall inform you of its interpretation before it comes to you. This is from what my Lord has taught me. Surely I have forsaken the religion of a people who do not believe in Allah, and are deniers of the Hereafter.

وَ اتَّبَعۡتُ مِلَّۃَ اٰبَآءِیۡۤ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ وَ اِسۡحٰقَ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ ؕ مَا کَانَ لَنَاۤ اَنۡ نُّشۡرِکَ بِاللّٰہِ مِنۡ شَیۡءٍ ؕ ذٰلِکَ مِنۡ فَضۡلِ اللّٰہِ عَلَیۡنَا وَ عَلَی النَّاسِ وَ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَشۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۳۸﴾

12:38 And I follow the religion of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. It does not befit us to set up any partner with Allah. This is by Allah’s grace upon us and on mankind, but most people do not give thanks.

یٰصَاحِبَیِ السِّجۡنِ ءَاَرۡبَابٌ مُّتَفَرِّقُوۡنَ خَیۡرٌ اَمِ اللّٰہُ الۡوَاحِدُ الۡقَہَّارُ ﴿ؕ۳۹﴾

12:39 My two fellow-prisoners, are various lords better or Allah the One, the Supreme?

مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِہٖۤ اِلَّاۤ اَسۡمَآءً سَمَّیۡتُمُوۡہَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ وَ اٰبَآؤُکُمۡ مَّاۤ اَنۡزَلَ اللّٰہُ بِہَا مِنۡ سُلۡطٰنٍ ؕ اِنِ الۡحُکۡمُ اِلَّا لِلّٰہِ ؕ اَمَرَ اَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اِیَّاہُ ؕ ذٰلِکَ الدِّیۡنُ الۡقَیِّمُ وَ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۴۰﴾

12:40 You do not serve besides Him but names which you have named, you and your fathers — Allah has sent down no authority for them. Judgment is only Allah’s. He has commanded that you serve none but Him. This is the right religion, but most people do not know.

یٰصَاحِبَیِ السِّجۡنِ اَمَّاۤ اَحَدُ کُمَا فَیَسۡقِیۡ رَبَّہٗ خَمۡرًا ۚ وَ اَمَّا الۡاٰخَرُ فَیُصۡلَبُ فَتَاۡکُلُ الطَّیۡرُ مِنۡ رَّاۡسِہٖ ؕ قُضِیَ الۡاَمۡرُ الَّذِیۡ فِیۡہِ تَسۡتَفۡتِیٰنِ ﴿ؕ۴۱﴾

12:41 My two fellow-prisoners, as for one of you, he will serve wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified, so that birds will eat from his head. The matter is decreed concerning which you inquired.

وَ قَالَ لِلَّذِیۡ ظَنَّ اَنَّہٗ نَاجٍ مِّنۡہُمَا اذۡکُرۡنِیۡ عِنۡدَ رَبِّکَ ۫ فَاَنۡسٰہُ الشَّیۡطٰنُ ذِکۡرَ رَبِّہٖ فَلَبِثَ فِی السِّجۡنِ بِضۡعَ سِنِیۡنَ ﴿ؕ٪۴۲﴾

12:42 And he said to him whom he knew would be delivered of the two: Remember me with your lord. But the devil caused him to forget mentioning (it) to his lord, so he remained in the prison a few years.


  1. Compare Genesis, ch. 40, which, however, omits Joseph’s preaching. The two youths were the butler and the baker.