Financial Story #1: Yusuf the National Treasurer

Yusuf

Yusuf (Joseph) (‘alayhis-salām – on whom be peace) was one of the prophets (anbiya’) mentioned in the Qur’an.  His father, Ya’qub (Jacob) (‘alayhis-salām – on whom be peace) was also a prophet (nabi). He had eleven brothers. Ten were older than him, and one was younger, Benyamin (Benjamin).

Being a very good and handsome boy and loved by his father very much, Yusuf earned the jealousy of his ten older brothers. So they decided to get rid of him when he reached the age of 17.

Once Yusuf said to his father, “O father, I saw eleven planets and the sun and the moon, prostrating before me.”

He said, “O my son, do not mention your dream to your brothers, lest they become jealous of you.”

One day the ten older brothers convince their father to bring Yusuf with them in the field where they threw him in a well and sold him as a slave to a caravan.

Yusuf was sold in the marketplace of Egypt to a man and his wife, who had no children of their own.

The man was an Egyptian, an officer of Fir’awn (Pharaoh), the King of Egypt. His wife’s name was Zulaykha.

Under their custodianship, Yusuf grew up as a handsome and good-looking man, and God endowed him with wisdom and knowledge.

After sometime, his master’s wife tried to seduce him, which he naturally refused. As they raced toward the door, she grabbed and tore his shirt from behind, and they found her husband by the door. When he saw that his shirt was torn from the back he said to her:

“This is a device on your part, and the women’s deceit is mighty indeed. As for you Yusuf, you can forget the whole thing. As you my wife, ask forgiveness for your sin. You are certainly wrong.”

Some women in the city gossiped: “The governor’s wife is trying to seduce her servant. She is madly in love with him. What she is doing is really error.”

When she heard of their gossip, she sent for them and prepared a feast. After she gave each one of them a knife, she said to him (Yusuf): “Go out to them!”

When they saw him, they so admired him that they cut their hands and said: “By God, this is not a human being, he is a handsome angel.”

She said, “This is the one about whom you blame me, I did try to seduce him, he refused. Unless he does what I command him to do, he will be imprisoned, and debased.”

He said, “My Lord, the prison is better for me than what they invite me to do, unless you divert their evil from me. I may desire them and behave like the ignorant.”

As answer to his prayer, they later decided, in spite of all the sign, to imprison him for awhile.

Two young men entered the prison with him. One of them said, “I saw myself in a dream pressing wine.”

The other one said, “I saw myself carrying bread on my head from which the birds were eating.”

As he was guided to the right path, before interpreting the dreams, Yusuf preached his religion to two of his companions in prison. He said, “I have been telling you of every food that came to you as provision, even before it came to you. That is what my Lord has taught me, for I have forsaken the religion of people who disbelieve in God and the hereafter.”

He also said, “O my prison companions! One of you will be the king’s wine butler. As for the other, he will be crucified, and the birds will eat from his head. This is the opinion concerning your inquiry.”

He then said to the one to be saved, “Remember me in your master’s presence.”

But Yusuf’s companion went out of prison, he forgot to remember him in the present of the King, and Yusuf remained in prison a few more years.

Years later while Yusuf was in prison, the Fir’awn of Egypt had a dream which caused him much concern.

The King said, “I saw seven fat cows being eaten by seven thin cows; and seven green ears of wheat, and seven dried ones. O you elders, explain my dream to me if you can interpret the dream the dreams.”

They said, “This is probably a nonsense dream. We know nothing about the interpretation of dreams.”

Then the one who had been saved remembered after such a long time and said, “I tell you the interpretation thereof if you send me to Yusuf!”

As he was sent to the prison, he said, “Yusuf, my friend, explain to us seven fat cows being eaten by seven thin cows, and seven green ears of wheat, and seven dried ones, that I may return to the people, and let them know.”

Yusuf explained, “The dream means that the first seven years to come will be good years with good harvest, but the next seven years to follow will be bad years with famine and hunger.”

He then continued, “You will produce good crops for seven conservative years. When you harvest, you should store them in their ears, except for a minimum that you eat.”

Yusuf also said, “Then seven bad years will follow, and will exhaust what you had advanced for them, except for a little that may be left. After that, a year will come in which the people will prosper, and will again press (wine and oil).

The King said, “Bring him to me!”

When the messenger went to him, Yusuf said, “Go back to your master and ask him about the women who cut their hands. My Lord is fully aware of their schemes.”

The King said, “What happened when you tried to seduce Yusuf?”

They said, “God forbid, we have not known of anything bad about him.”

The governor’s wife said, “Now the truth is manifest. I am the one who tried to seduce him. He had told the truth. Now he should know that I did not betray him in his absence. God does not bless the schemes of the betrayers.”

She continued, “I claim no innocence for myself. Surely, the self advocates evil, except for those blessed by my Lord. My Lord is forgiver, merciful.”

The King said, “Bring him to me, to have him work for me.”

When the King talked to Yusuf, he said, “As of now, you are our trusted confidant.”

Yusuf said, “Put me in charge of the treasury. I am an experienced treasurer.”

The King made him the treasurer and inspector of Egypt’s storage chambers.

At that time, Yusuf was thirty years old.

After the King appointed him treasurer, Yusuf married the governor’s wife who became widow.

Not long after that, Yusuf met and forgave his ten brothers who betrayed and sold him as a slave. He was also reunited with his father Ya’qub and younger brother Benyamin, and he invited his whole family to live in Egypt.

God establish Yusuf in the land of Egypt, ruling therein as he pleased. God endowed him with mercy, and He never neglected to reward the righteous.

Source: Iljas Ismail, STORIES OF TWENTY FIVE PROPHETS MENTIONED IN THE HOLY QUR’AN, Story 10.

Financial Lessons of the Story:

  1. Trust in God (tawakkal ‘alallah) at all times.
  2. Preservation of one’s self-esteem and personal integrity.
  3. Utilization of one’s energy and talent to earn for a living.
  4. Identification of one’s niche – what one can do best and passionate of;
  5. Maintenance of one’s network of friends, co-workers, and relatives.
  6. Importance of saving in facing any emergency in the future.

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