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Two Jail Mates ask Yusuf to interpret their Dreams

Qatadah said, "One of them was the king's distiller and the other was his baker.'' Each of these two men had a dream and asked Yusuf to interpret it for them.

﴿ قَالَ لَا يَأۡتِيكُمَا طَعَامٌ۬ تُرۡزَقَانِهِۦۤ إِلَّا نَبَّأۡتُكُمَا بِتَأۡوِيلِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن يَأۡتِيَكُمَا‌ۚ ذَٲلِكُمَا مِمَّا عَلَّمَنِى رَبِّىٓ‌ۚ إِنِّى تَرَكۡتُ مِلَّةَ قَوۡمٍ۬ لَّا يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَهُم بِٱلۡأَخِرَةِ هُمۡ كَـٰفِرُونَ وَٱتَّبَعۡتُ مِلَّةَ ءَابَآءِىٓ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ‌ۚ مَا كَانَ لَنَآ أَن نُّشۡرِكَ بِٱللَّهِ مِن شَىۡءٍ۬‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ مِن فَضۡلِ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡنَا وَعَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَشۡكُرُونَ

(37. He said: "No food will come to you as your provision, but I will inform its interpretation before it comes. This is of that which my Lord has taught me. Verily, I have abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter.'') (38. "And I have followed the religion of my fathers, - Ibrahim, Ishaq and Ya'qub and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to Allah. This is from the grace of Allah to us and to mankind, but most men thank not.)

Yusuf calls His Jail Mates to Tawhid even before He interprets Their Dreams

Yusuf, peace be upon him, told the two men that he has knowledge in the interpretation of whatever they saw in their dream, and that he will tell them about the interpretation of the dreams before they become a reality. This is why he said,

﴿ لَا يَأۡتِيكُمَا طَعَامٌ۬ تُرۡزَقَانِهِۦۤ إِلَّا نَبَّأۡتُكُمَا بِتَأۡوِيلِهِۦ

(No food will come to you as your provision, but I will inform you of its interpretation) Mujahid commented,

﴿ لَا يَأۡتِيكُمَا طَعَامٌ۬ تُرۡزَقَانِهِۦۤ

(No food will come to you as your provision,) this day,

﴿ إِلَّا نَبَّأۡتُكُمَا بِتَأۡوِيلِهِۦ قَبۡلَ أَن يَأۡتِيَكُمَا‌ۚ

(but I will inform you of its interpretation before it comes.) As-Suddi said similarly. Yusuf said that, this knowledge is from Allah Who taught it to me, because I shunned the religion of those who disbelieve in Him and the Last Day, who neither hope for Allah's reward nor fear His punishment on the Day of Return,

﴿ وَٱتَّبَعۡتُ مِلَّةَ ءَابَآءِىٓ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ‌ۚ

(And I have followed the religion of my fathers, - Ibrahim, Ishaq and Ya`qub) Yusuf said, `I have avoided the way of disbelief and polytheism, and followed the way of these honorable Messengers,' may Allah's peace and blessings be on them. This, indeed, is the way of he who seeks the path of guidance and follows the way of the Messengers, all the while shunning the path of deviation. It is he whose heart Allah will guide, teaching him what he did not know beforehand. It is he whom Allah will make an Imam who is imitated in the way of righteousness, and a caller to the path of goodness. Yusuf said next,

﴿ مَا كَانَ لَنَآ أَن نُّشۡرِكَ بِٱللَّهِ مِن شَىۡءٍ۬‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ مِن فَضۡلِ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡنَا وَعَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ

(and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to Allah. This is from the grace of Allah to us and to mankind,) this Tawhid -Monotheism-, affirming that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone without partners,

﴿ مِن فَضۡلِ ٱللَّهِ عَلَيۡنَا

(is from the grace of Allah to us), He has revealed it to us and ordained it on us,

﴿ وَعَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ

(and to mankind,), to whom He has sent us as callers to Tawhid,

﴿ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَشۡكُرُونَ

(but most men thank not.) they do not admit Allah's favor and blessing of sending the Messengers to them, but rather,

﴿ بَدَّلُواْ نِعۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِ كُفۡرً۬ا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوۡمَهُمۡ دَارَ ٱلۡبَوَارِ

(Have changed the blessings of Allah into disbelief, and caused their people to dwell in the house of destruction.) (14:28)

﴿ يَـٰصَٮٰحِبَىِ ٱلسِّجۡنِ ءَأَرۡبَابٌ۬ مُّتَفَرِّقُونَ خَيۡرٌ أَمِ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡوَٲحِدُ ٱلۡقَهَّارُ مَا تَعۡبُدُونَ مِن دُونِهِۦۤ إِلَّآ أَسۡمَآءً۬ سَمَّيۡتُمُوهَآ أَنتُمۡ وَءَابَآؤُڪُم مَّآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ بِہَا مِن سُلۡطَـٰنٍ‌ۚ إِنِ ٱلۡحُكۡمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ‌ۚ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ

(39. "O two companions of the prison! Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible'') (40. "You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged) - you and your fathers - for which Allah has sent down no authority. The command is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him; that is the straight religion, but most men know not.'') Prophet Yusuf went on calling his two prison companions to worship Allah alone, without partners, and to reject whatever is being worshipped instead of Him like the idols, which were worshipped by the people of the two men, Yusuf said,

﴿ ءَأَرۡبَابٌ۬ مُّتَفَرِّقُونَ خَيۡرٌ أَمِ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡوَٲحِدُ ٱلۡقَهَّارُ

(Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible) to Whose grace and infinite kingdom everything and everyone has submitted in humiliation. Prophet Yusuf explained to them next that it is because of their ignorance that they worship false deities and give them names, for these names were forged and are being transferred from one generation to the next generation. They have no proof or authority that supports this practice, hence his statement to them,

﴿ مَّآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ بِہَا مِن سُلۡطَـٰنٍ‌ۚ

(for which Allah has sent down no authority) or proof and evidence. He then affirmed that the judgment, decision, will and kingdom are all for Allah alone, and He has commanded all of His servants to worship none but Him. He said,

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُ

(that is the straight religion,) `this, Tawhid of Allah and directing all acts of worship at Him alone in sincerity, that I am calling you to is the right, straight religion that Allah has ordained and for which He has revealed what He wills of proofs and evidences,'

﴿ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ

(but most men know not.), and this is why most of them are idolaters,

﴿ وَمَآ أَڪۡثَرُ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَوۡ حَرَصۡتَ بِمُؤۡمِنِينَ

(And most of mankind will not believe even if you eagerly desire it.) (12:103) When Yusuf finished calling them, he started interpreting their dreams for them,

﴿ يَـٰصَٮٰحِبَىِ ٱلسِّجۡنِ أَمَّآ أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسۡقِى رَبَّهُ ۥ خَمۡرً۬ا‌ۖ وَأَمَّا ٱلۡأَخَرُ فَيُصۡلَبُ فَتَأۡڪُلُ ٱلطَّيۡرُ مِن رَّأۡسِهِۦ‌ۚ قُضِىَ ٱلۡأَمۡرُ ٱلَّذِى فِيهِ تَسۡتَفۡتِيَانِ

(41. "O two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his master to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.'')

The Interpretation of the Dreams

Yusuf said,

﴿ يَـٰصَٮٰحِبَىِ ٱلسِّجۡنِ أَمَّآ أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسۡقِى رَبَّهُ ۥ خَمۡرً۬ا‌ۖ

(O two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his master to drink;) to the man who saw in a dream that he was pressing wine. He did not direct this speech at him, however, so that to lessen the grief of the other person. This is why he made his statement indirect,

﴿ وَأَمَّا ٱلۡأَخَرُ فَيُصۡلَبُ فَتَأۡڪُلُ ٱلطَّيۡرُ مِن رَّأۡسِهِۦ‌ۚ

(and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head.) which is the interpretation of the other man's dream in which he saw himself carrying bread above his head. Yusuf told them that the decision about their matter has already been taken and it shall come to pass. This is because the dream is tied to a bird's leg, as long as it is not truthfully interpreted. If it is interpreted, then it becomes a reality. Ath-Thawri said that `Imarah bin Al-Qa`qa` narrated that Ibrahim said that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "When they said what they said to him, and he explained their dreams to them, they replied, `We did not see anything at all.' This is when he said,

﴿ قُضِىَ ٱلۡأَمۡرُ ٱلَّذِى فِيهِ تَسۡتَفۡتِيَانِ

(Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.)'' The understanding in this is that he who claims that he saw a dream and was given its interpretation, then he will be tied to its interpretation, and Allah has the best knowledge. There is an honorable Hadith that Imam Ahmad collected from Mu`awiyah bin Haydah that the Prophet said,

« الرُّؤْيَا عَلَى رِجْلِ طَائِرٍ مَا لَمْ تُعْبَرْ، فَإِذَا عُبِرَتْ وَقَعَت »

(The dream is tied to a bird's leg, as long as it is not interpreted. If it is interpreted, it becomes a reality.)

﴿ وَقَالَ لِلَّذِى ظَنَّ أَنَّهُ ۥ نَاجٍ۬ مِّنۡهُمَا ٱذۡڪُرۡنِى عِندَ رَبِّكَ فَأَنسَٮٰهُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ ذِڪۡرَ رَبِّهِۦ فَلَبِثَ فِى ٱلسِّجۡنِ بِضۡعَ سِنِينَ

(42. And he said to the one whom he knew to be saved: "Mention me to your king.'' But Shaytan made him forget to mention it to his master. So (Yusuf) stayed in prison a few (more) years.)

Yusuf asks the King's Distiller to mention Him to the King

Yusuf knew that the distiller would be saved. So discretely, so that the other man's suspicion that he would be crucified would not intensify, he said,

﴿ ٱذۡڪُرۡنِى عِندَ رَبِّكَ

(Mention me to your King.) asking him to mention his story to the king. That man forgot Yusuf's request and did not mention his story to the king, a plot from the devil, so that Allah's Prophet would not leave the prison. This is the correct meaning of,

﴿ فَأَنسَٮٰهُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ ذِڪۡرَ رَبِّهِۦ

(But Shaytan made him forget to mention it to his master.) that it refers to the man who was saved. As was said by Mujahid, Muhammad bin Ishaq and several others. As for, `a few years', or, Bida` in Arabic, it means between three and nine, according to Mujahid and Qatadah. Wahb bin Munabbih said, "Ayyub suffered from the illness for seven years, Yusuf remained in prison for seven years and Bukhtanassar (Nebuchadnezzar - Chaldean king of Babylon) was tormented for seven years.''

﴿ وَقَالَ ٱلۡمَلِكُ إِنِّىٓ أَرَىٰ سَبۡعَ بَقَرَٲتٍ۬ سِمَانٍ۬ يَأۡڪُلُهُنَّ سَبۡعٌ عِجَافٌ۬ وَسَبۡعَ سُنۢبُلَـٰتٍ خُضۡرٍ۬ وَأُخَرَ يَابِسَـٰتٍ۬‌ۖ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلۡمَلَأُ أَفۡتُونِى فِى رُءۡيَـٰىَ إِن كُنتُمۡ لِلرُّءۡيَا تَعۡبُرُونَ قَالُوٓاْ أَضۡغَـٰثُ أَحۡلَـٰمٍ۬‌ۖ وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِتَأۡوِيلِ ٱلۡأَحۡلَـٰمِ بِعَـٰلِمِينَ وَقَالَ ٱلَّذِى نَجَا مِنۡہُمَا وَٱدَّكَرَ بَعۡدَ أُمَّةٍ أَنَا۟ أُنَبِّئُڪُم بِتَأۡوِيلِهِۦ فَأَرۡسِلُونِ يُوسُفُ أَيُّہَا ٱلصِّدِّيقُ أَفۡتِنَا فِى سَبۡعِ بَقَرَٲتٍ۬ سِمَانٍ۬ يَأۡڪُلُهُنَّ سَبۡعٌ عِجَافٌ۬ وَسَبۡعِ سُنۢبُلَـٰتٍ خُضۡرٍ۬ وَأُخَرَ يَابِسَـٰتٍ۬ لَّعَلِّىٓ أَرۡجِعُ إِلَى ٱلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَعۡلَمُونَ قَالَ تَزۡرَعُونَ سَبۡعَ سِنِينَ دَأَبً۬ا فَمَا حَصَدتُّمۡ فَذَرُوهُ فِى سُنۢبُلِهِۦۤ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬ مِّمَّا تَأۡكُلُونَ ثُمَّ يَأۡتِى مِنۢ بَعۡدِ ذَٲلِكَ سَبۡعٌ۬ شِدَادٌ۬ يَأۡكُلۡنَ مَا قَدَّمۡتُمۡ لَهُنَّ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬ مِّمَّا تُحۡصِنُونَ ثُمَّ يَأۡتِى مِنۢ بَعۡدِ ذَٲلِكَ عَامٌ۬ فِيهِ يُغَاثُ ٱلنَّاسُ وَفِيهِ يَعۡصِرُونَ

(43. And the king (of Egypt) said: "Verily, I saw (in a dream) seven fat cows, whom seven lean ones were devouring, and seven green ears of corn, and (seven) others dry. O notables! Explain to me my dream, if it be that you can interpret dreams.'' (44. They said: "Mixed up false dreams and we are not skilled in the interpretation of dreams.'') (45. Then the man who was released, now at length remembered and said: "I will tell you its interpretation, so send me forth.'') (46. (He said): "O Yusuf, the man of truth! Explain to us seven fat cows whom seven lean ones were devouring, and seven green ears of corn, and (seven) others dry, that I may return to the people, and that they may know.'') (47. (Yusuf) said: "For seven consecutive years, you shall sow as usual and that which you reap you shall leave it in the ears, (all) except a little of it which you may eat.'') (48. "Then will come after that, seven hard (years), which will devour what you have laid by in advance for them, (all) except a little of that which you have guarded (stored).'') (49. "Then thereafter will come a year in which people will have abundant rain and in which they will press (wine and oil).'')