ஆசிரியர்: Manal Hatab
Prophet Yusuf’s (Joseph), alayhi as-salaam(blessings be upon him), story carries timeless spiritual, moral and literary lessons, among many others. One of those timeless lessons is the eloquent portrayal of Prophet Ya`qub’s (Jacob) (போன்ற) exemplary character, which stands as a testimony to his unshakeable faith. The Qur’an highlights his wisdom and divine knowledge as a parent and a believer in the following verse: “And indeed, he was a possessor of knowledge because of what We had taught him, but most of the people do not know.” (12:68)
Prophet Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) forbearing nature is evident throughout his difficult trials, which involved his own family. Ibn Qayyim Al Jawziyya said: “Iman (நம்பிக்கை) is two halves: Half of it is patience and the other half is gratitude.”1 சந்தேகம் இல்லை, தீர்க்கதரிசி Ya`kub (போன்ற) demonstrated those qualities repeatedly throughout his hardships.
My intention is to focus on his role model character, as depicted in Chapter Yusuf in the Qur’an. Ibn Kathir explains that Prophet Ya`qub (போன்ற) had twelve sons among whom Yusuf (போன்ற) was the most honorable. This is in a ஹதீஸ் (saying of the Prophet), narrated by Abu Huraira. இந்த ஹதீஸ் also confirms Prophet Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) honorable status. Some people asked the Prophet Muhammad நபி :”Who is the most honorable amongst the people?" அவர் பதிலளித்தார், “The most honorable among them is the one who is the most Allah-fearing.” They said, “O Allah’s Prophet! We do not ask about this.” He said, “Then the most honorable person is Joseph, Allah’s Prophet, the son of Allah’s Prophet (Ya`qub), the son of Allah’s Khalil [Prophet] Ibrahim.” (ஸஹீஹ் புகாரி)
Ya`qub’s Wisdom: His Parenting Style
"அவர் கூறினார், O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. And thus, will your Lord choose you, teach you the interpretation of narratives, and complete His favor upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He completed it upon your fathers before, Abraham and Isaac. உண்மையில், your Lord is Knowing and Wise.” (குர்ஆன், 12:5-6)
Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) wisdom as a father prevails in his remarkably nurturing and supportive response to Yusuf (போன்ற) who approached him to share his dream of the eleven stars, the sun and moon prostrating for him. The above verses, which describe Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) response, reveal a close relationship between father and son. According to the Sharaawy, the usage of the phrase “Ya bunaya” (O my son) அரபு மொழியில், indicates endearment and love.2 Yusuf was still very young and dependent upon his father. Using the appropriate rhetoric and parenting style, Ya`qub (போன்ற) delivered counsel with utmost wisdom. முதலாவதாக, he acknowledged the importance of Yusuf’s (போன்ற) dream and validated his experience by reminding him of God’s (சுபு) blessings upon him and his ancestors. இரண்டாவதாக, he counseled Yusuf (போன்ற) to keep the dream a secret; இதனால், displaying depth of insight into human nature. Instead of perpetuating unnecessary feelings of rejection between Yusuf (போன்ற) and his ten older sons, Ya`qub (போன்ற) highlighted Satan as the perpetrator of wrong doings. He avoided highlighting any flaws, due to envy, in his sons’ characters, ஆனால், அதற்கு பதிலாக, he brought Yusuf’s (போன்ற) attention to Satan, as the source of potential conflict between him and his siblings.
This encounter between father and son points to the importance of developing family relationships based on openness and transparency. By responding with genuine concern to their children’s experiences, parents keep a steady channel of communication open for future dialogue and counsel. மேலும், there is a valuable message to teach children compassion by using rhetoric, which encourages empathy and love, especially among siblings. According to modern psychology, Prophet Ya`qub’s parenting style is “authoritative.” This is the most effective parenting approach among the three parenting styles identified as “permissive,” “authoritative,” and “authoritarian”:
"Authoritative parents take a different, more moderate approach that emphasizes setting high standards, being nurturing and responsive and showing respect for children as independent, rational beings. The authoritative parent expects maturity and cooperation, and offers children lots of emotional support.”3
Ya`qub’s Patience: An Appropriate Response
As the story unfolds, the Qur’an describes Prophet Yusuf’s (போன்ற) brothers as harboring ill feelings towards their younger brother and accusing their father of favoritism. After seeking their father’s approval, they take Yusuf (போன்ற) on a leisure trip with the intention of getting rid of him. They throw him in a well and return to their father to relay the false news of his death.
“And they came to their father at night, weeping. அதற்கு அவர்கள்,, ‘O our father, indeed we went racing each other and left Joseph with our possessions, and a wolf ate him. But you would not believe us, even if we were truthful.’ And they brought upon his shirt false blood. [Jacob] கூறினார், ‘Rather, your souls have enticed you to something, so patience is most fitting. And Allah is the one sought for help against that which you describe.’” (12:16-18)
Unlike a typical parent’s reaction, Ya`qub (போன்ற) responded to the news of Yusuf’s (போன்ற) demise with great resolve. Even though he knew that his sons had committed a sin and were relaying false news, he decided to respond with patience. Ibn Kathir explains the sons’ paradoxical behavior and Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) suspicions:
“They claimed that this was the shirt Yusuf was wearing, when the wolf devoured him, being stained with his blood. இருப்பினும், they forgot to tear the shirt, and this is why Allah’s Prophet Ya`qub did not believe them. மாறாக, he told them what he felt about what they said to him, thus refusing their false claim.”4
In spite of his total awareness of the sinful nature of his sons’ actions, Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) reaction lacked any harsh recourse and portrayed a character tempered with patience and wisdom. He did not hesitate to cast a doubt upon his sons’ actions, immediately sought “sweet patience” and called upon God, subhanahu wa ta’ala, Exhalted is He, for help. He chose to avoid provocation or frustration. தீர்க்கதரிசி Ya`kub (போன்ற) models patience as a state, which requires resolve as well as the courage to be steadfast during afflictions. He stands as an example for parents to show patience during family conflicts, while actively and intelligently seeking solutions with in the appropriate context and appropriate time. It is a fundamental character quality that the believer possesses and that defines his disposition during tribulations. Judith Orloff, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, affirms the empowering nature of patience:
“Patience doesn’t mean passivity or resignation, but power. It’s an emotionally freeing practice of waiting, watching, and knowing when to act.”5
Ya`qub’s Da`wah (Call) to his Family: A ”Balanced” Approach
After a focus on the events that Prophet Yusuf (போன்ற) underwent in Egypt, the Qur’an revisits the story of Ya`qub (போன்ற), his older sons and younger Benjamin. The sons are now in a despondent state. They had suffered from the drought that affected the region and were gradually undergoing a spiritual change indicated by feelings of remorse and despair. By that time, யூசுப் (போன்ற) had reached a high position as financial advisor, in charge of all the storage units in Egypt. The wheel had turned a full circle and now Yusuf (போன்ற) had advantage over his brothers. It is under those circumstances that Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) sons urge him to send Benjamin with them to Egypt to claim his share of goods. The Qur’an describes Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) response:
“He said, ‘Should I entrust you with him except [under coercion] as I entrusted you with his brother before? But Allah is the best guardian, and He is the most merciful of the merciful.’ And when they opened their baggage, they found their merchandise returned to them. அதற்கு அவர்கள்,, ‘O our father, என்ன [மேலும்] could we desire? This is our merchandise returned to us. And we will obtain supplies for our family and protect our brother and obtain an increase of a camel’s load; that is an easy measurement.’ [Jacob] கூறினார், ‘Never will I send him with you until you give me a promise by Allah that you will bring him [back] to me, unless you should be surrounded by enemies.’ And when they had given their promise, அவர் கூறினார், ‘Allah, over what we say, is Witness.’ And he said, ‘O my sons, do not enter from one gate but enter from different gates; and I cannot avail you against [the decree of] Allah at all. The decision is only for Allah; upon Him I have relied, and upon Him let those who would rely [உண்மையில்] rely.’ And when they entered from where their father had ordered them, it did not avail them against Allah at all except [it was] a need within the soul of Jacob, which he satisfied. And indeed, he was a possessor of knowledge because of what We had taught him, but most of the people do not know.” (12:64-68)
In this interaction between father and sons, Ya`qub (போன்ற) is instructing with the intention of rectifying the wrongdoings, committed by his children. He alludes to God (சுபு) as the Guardian, Merciful, and Witness. He first reminds his sons of their broken trust with Yusuf (போன்ற) so that they may not repeat it with Benjamin. He however does not negate God’s (சுபு) attribute as the ultimate Guardian. மேலும், he holds them responsible for their actions by obtaining an oath for Benjamin’s safe return and reminding them that God (சுபு) is a Witness over those events. This is incredible spiritual rhetoric, which arouses feelings of remorse and mindfulness of God (சுபு) by appealing to the sense of right and wrong. This type of rhetoric is however proceeded by very practical advice. Ya`qub (போன்ற) asks his sons to enter the city of Egypt from different gates hoping to prevent a possible calamity. He concludes by reminding his sons that God’s (சுபு) decree will finally avail in spite of his advice. The Qur’an attests to Ya`qub’s exemplary character. God (சுபு) describes him as the possessor of divine knowledge.
ஆம் Tafheem, Al Maududi best explains Prophet Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) state:
சுருக்கமாக, as far as it was humanly possible, he took all the precautionary measures to avoid every possible risk. மறுபுறம், he always kept this thing in view (and expressed it) that no human precautionary measure could avert the enforcement of Allah’s will, and that the real protection was Allah’s protection: and that one should not rely on the precautionary measures but on the favour of AIlah. Obviously only that person who has the real knowledge can keep such a balance in his words and deeds, who knows what kind of efforts are demanded of his human faculties bestowed by Allah for the solution of worldly problems, who also realizes that it is Allah alone Who has the power to make them a success or a failure. This is “what most people do not understand”. Some of them rely merely on their efforts and measures and discard trust in Allah; while there are others who rely merely on “trust in AIlah” and do not adopt any practical measure to solve their problem.6
This is a lesson for parents to approach any problem they encounter with a practical solution that considers worldly causes or consequences to mundane matters without negating the power of God (சுபு) and His will to the outcome of their affairs. தீர்க்கதரிசி Ya`kub (போன்ற) also serves as a role model in his gentle approach to parenting where he instructs but also constantly reminds of God’s (சுபு) presence both through words and through actions.
Ya`qub’ s Hopefulness: A Tenacious Supplicator
The events that follow further deteriorate the sons’ relationship with their father. யூசுப் (போன்ற) who now has an established status in the land has plans to reunite the family. Benjamin, accused of stealing, is held back in the palace with Yusuf (போன்ற). Yusuf’s (போன்ற) brothers return to their dad in despair with the eldest son refusing to reunite with his father. He held himself accountable for Benjamin’s safety. தீர்க்கதரிசி Ya`kub (போன்ற) is deeply saddened, but never fails to return to God (சுபு) and supplicate for the safe comeback of his children. In the beginning verses, he seeks “sweet patience.” He does the same now while referring to God (சுபு) as the All-knowing. Even though he felt tremendous grief over Yusuf (போன்ற), he did not despair from the mercy of God (சுபு), and he relays that to his sons as he asks them to continue searching for Yusuf (போன்ற). This indicates that Ya`qub (போன்ற) did not shun his sons out completely but continued to remind them to take heed in God (சுபு) and gave them counsel.
“O my sons, go and find out about Joseph and his brother and despair not of relief from Allah. உண்மையில், no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” (குர்ஆன், 12:87)
Yaqub’s Certitude: A Trait of a Sound Heart
Ya`qub (போன்ற) continued to call his sons to submission and repentance through a relationship tempered with mercy and patience. His rhetoric in the Qur’an indicates a state of unremitting reliance on God (சுபு), with the initiative to continue his service to humanity through da`wah (call to God’s religion). In this case, da`wah was to his closest family members, his own sons. God (சுபு) also instructed the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to invite his family to Islam first and foremost:
“And warn your closest kindred.” (குர்ஆன் 26:214)
This kind of gentle rhetoric no doubt caused the children to feel remorse. Their wrong actions, of plotting against Yusuf (போன்ற), were spurred by the motive of seeking their father’s undivided attention. Their father did not desert them but continued to guide them while turning to God (சுபு) to seek solace and patience. His certitude that the dream would unfold kept him steadfast.Prophet Ya`qub (போன்ற) exemplifies how parents should carry their responsibilities towards their children even when they are in a state of rebellion. His actions reflect a sound heart, connected to God (சுபு) through worship and solely seeking His pleasure. Believers cannot but ponder upon his exemplary character and consider the malleable character of human beings. Yusuf’s (போன்ற) brothers underwent major moral changes stemming from a change of heart and consequently evolved from wrong doers to remorseful human beings who sought repentance and asked their father to pray for their forgiveness. It was God’s (சுபு) decree through all the events, to reunite Ya`qub’s (போன்ற) family with Yusuf (போன்ற) in a beautiful scene where the dream unfolds to reality.
As a parent, Ya`qub (போன்ற) suffered through the disobedience of his sons but remained involved in their lives with a mission to rekindle their faith. His “authoritative parenting style” portrays him as a “nurturing” and “responsive” parent who expected his sons to behave morally and consequently, he sought every effort through worship and counsel to propagate their repentance. Each tribulation brought him closer to His creator. இறுதியில், God (சுபு) does not waste the faith of those who have taqwa (பற்றும்,) and endure with patience. As the Qur’an addresses Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Chapter Hud:
“And have patience (oh Muhammad) for Allah will not waste the reward of the righteous.” (11:115)
- : http://www.islaam.net/main/display.php?id=1194&category=148 [↩]
- : http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=76&tSoraNo=12&tAyahNo=5&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1 [↩]
- : http://www.parentingscience.com/authoritative-parenting-style.html [↩]
- : http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=880&Itemid=67 [↩]
- : http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201209/the-power-patience [↩]
- : http://www.tafheem.net/tafheem.html [↩]
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