Exploring Surah Yusuf with Sheikh Alihusain Datoo (Podcast)

On this week’s TMV Podcast, Sheikh Alihusain Datoo speaks about Sura Yusuf, explaining both the depth of the story of Prophet Yusuf as well as the human element of this Surah that remains so empowering to this day.

On this week’s TMV Podcast, Sheikh Alihusain Datoo speaks about Sura Yusuf, explaining both the depth of the story of Prophet Yusuf as well as the human element of this Surah that remains so empowering to this day.

On this week’s TMV Podcast, I spoke to Sheikh Alihusain Datoo about Surah Yusuf, exploring both the depth of the story of Prophet Yusuf as well as the human element of this Surah that remains so empowering to this day. 

Listen to the full discussion on Surah Yusuf here:

Surah Yusuf remains unique in the Quran because it contains the only full story from start to finish, and is also the only story of Yusuf that is mentioned in the Quran. It also remains a “practical surah”, explains the Sheikh, in that it provides practical and understandable tips on how to change our lives for the better. Both relatable and timeless, the story of Prophet Yusuf contains many human elements that speak to many who feel they are struggling with faith or practice. Sheikh Alihusain focused in on three main aspects of Surah Yusuf, in the attempt to better utilize the many benefits this surah can give to believers: the acknowledgment that being human has its limitations and that it is normal to feel these limitations, the concept of learning to love instead of fear God, and finally the important aspect of patience and mercy in Islam.

“Why would God ever write something evil for you? Why would He put you through difficulty, simply for pain? Are [your struggles] not because there is something greater for you at the end of the path?”

Sheikh Alihusain Datoo

One of the most endearing aspects of Surah Yusuf is Prophet Yusuf’s human element, and while this may seem obvious, the human element of our Prophets are often ignored or not spoken of, making it difficult for many to connect to some of Islam’s most powerful and beautiful Prophets. Sheikh Alihusain explains that while the focus is (rightfully so) on the wife of Aziz’s passion and lust for Prophet Yusuf, it is equally important to understand that Prophet Yusuf was also tempted as well. The important point, however, is that Prophet Yusuf chooses not to act on his desires.

By recognizing that Prophet Yusus was indeed human and like many of us also had weaknesses for temptations, we can better understand how to use him as an example of how to overcome our own harmful desires. Prophet Yusuf’s first reaction to being tempted by the wife of Aziz was to cry out “God Forbid”, before calling upon Allah to help him and protect him from falling into sin. When we recognize that Prophet Yusuf had human limitations and temptations, it becomes easier for us to relate and understand better how to use Prophets like Yusuf to better our own lives for the sake of Allah.

“Prophet Yusuf sees everything is being done by the permission of God…he sees God everywhere”

Sheikh Alihusain Datoo

The concept of learning how to love God instead of fear Him is also an important aspect of Surah Yusuf according to Sheikh Alihusain. Too much of our focus is on the wrath of God, and how we should learn to fear Him in order to become better believers, he explains, using the example of Prophet Yusuf’s relationship with God as a prime example of how we should really be thinking when serving God. Prophet Yusuf did not stop his temptations and desires because he feared God, but because he loved God. Instead of saying that God will punish him for his sins, he instead reminds himself what God deserves from us because of our love for Him. This is one of the key aspects of Surah Yusuf according to Sheikh Alihusain, that Prophet Yusuf chooses not to commit his sin not because he is afraid of God, but because he wants to show his thankfulness to God instead. By being thankful to God and remembering our love for God, we will be less likely to sin and fall into temptations. Surah Yufus shows us in plain terms that we should all be learning to love God and not simply fear Him.

“If you want God to have mercy on you then you need to have mercy with the people on earth first”

Sheikh Alihusain Datoo

The final aspect of Surah Yusuf that Sheikh Alihusain delved into was the concept of patience and mercy in Islam. Being able to truly practice patience means that you fully rely on God, and the example of when Prophet Yusuf was held in jail remains extremely beneficial to us if we take the time to really understand how he was able to remain calm and in control of his emotions even when tested with the worst of possible situations. The more reliant on God you become the more patient you can also become, which also leads to another important aspect from Surah Yusuf: the act of mercy. Prophet Yusuf’s mercy when he forgave his brothers for trying to kill him may baffle many of us. But his steadfast belief in forgiveness and mercy, even when afflicted with something as treacherous as your own blood attempting to kill you, remains an important lesson to us all about how to become better people as well as better Muslims. Patience, which in many cases can lead to greater mercy, remains at the core of Prophet Yusuf’s conduct with the world and how he showed his devotion to God.

“We need to have that God element constantly in our lives, and trusting in God’s plan”

Sheikh Alihusain Datoo

Surah Yusuf remains as both one of the most underestimated and yet loved suras of the Quran, and with the empowering human element of the story of Prophet Yusuf’s life, it sheds light on just how important it is to remember God and to remember how important the Quran is in helping us better our lives. Although the full tafseer of Surah Yusuf can be studied over a lifetime, Sheikh Alihusain explained in detail three of the most important aspects of this surah: that it is important to remember we are humans with temptations and desires and that it is normal to struggle through them, that it is imperative we learn to love and not only just fear God, and finally that learning to have patience and mercy can be some of the most rewarding ways of connecting with God. May we all benefit from the lessons of the Quran, and remember to keep the oneness of God in our hearts and souls.