Yusuf (Arabic: ????, also Yousef, Yousuf, Youssef, Yusef, Yossef or Yosef) is a prophet in the Qur`an, the holy scriptures of Islam. The figure corresponds to the character from the Jewish texts and the Christian Bible as Joseph and is the Arabic variant of that name. The majority of the Qu`ranic narrative of Yusuf bears close resemblance to that of the Bible.
According to the Qu`ran, Joseph (Arabic: Yusuf) was the son of Jacob (Arabic: Yaqub) and the great-grandson of Abraham (Arabic: Ibrahim). He was thus from a lineage of prophets, and had eleven brothers. At an early age, Joseph displayed signs of prophethood: he had a dream in which he saw eleven stars, the sun, and the moon, prostrating to him. His father, also a prophet, told his son to keep his dream a secret, as it would reveal itself in his future. Jacob also added that God would give him gifts such as dream interpretation, wisdom, grace, and honour, as well as make him a prophet.
Joseph`s brothers were all jealous of his talents and the fact that their father favoured him over his other sons. They plotted to kill him, but one of the brothers felt sorry for him, and suggeste they throw him into a well so that a caravan might pick him up and take him as a slave. They asked their father`s permission to take him out to play, who granted them their request, on the condition that they would keep watch over him. The brothers proceed with their plan and dropped him in a well and left him there. They brought back Joseph’s shirt, covered with sheep`s blood, to tell their father that wolves had eaten Joseph. Jacob became very saddened at the disappearance of his son and eventually became blind.
Joseph was rescued by a passing caravan and sold into slavery in Egypt, to a rich man termed al-Aziz. The Quran names Joseph as a very attractive man (see 12:31). While working for al-Aziz, he was constantly approached by his al-Aziz`s wife (Imra`at al-Aziz), she being intent on seducing him. Joseph continuously rebuffed her attempts, until one day, she became frustrated to the point where she chased him and tore the back of Joseph`s shirt. Al-Aziz then walked in on the scene and became angered at what he was witnessing. Imra`at al-Aziz then proceeded to accuse Joseph of initiating the chase. A servant who witnessed the scene aided Joseph by pointing out the obvious: his shirt was torn from the back, meaning that she (Imra`at al-Aziz) was perusing Joseph, not the other way around. Being constantly put in incidents to test his faith and honour, Joseph prayed that he would rather be imprisoned that be placed through the constant ordeals he was put through.
After being imprisoned for a few years, God gave him the ability to interpret dreams, a power in which he became popular amongst the prisoners using. However, two cooks were envious of his ability, so they decided to try to fool him by making up dreams and asking him to interpret them. Joseph of course interpreted these dreams, saying that the King of Egypt would catch the cooks after they had done something illegal, one would be forgiven and the other killed. The two cooks later on secretly laughed thinking they had fooled Joseph.
A day later, under order of the King of Egypt soldiers came to take the two cooks away, the King said one would be forgiven, the other killed. The forgiven cook would work near the King, as his slave. One day the King awakening from sleep told the forgiven cook about his very interesting dream, and about what it could mean. The forgiven cook was quick to say that there was a man in prison that could interpret dreams. The King immediately called Joseph, and told him that if he were to interpret this dream correctly he would become his advisor, freed from p