Prophet Yusuf (as) was approximately seven years old when he shared with his father a dream he saw. The Quran narrates it: “(Remember) when Yusuf said to his father: ‘O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon – I saw them prostrating themselves to me.’” (Yusuf 12:4) The above Ayah indicates the trust and rapport between father and son. Prophet Yusuf (as) confides in his father.
The Quran has beautifully described the family structure using a parable. The sun has been personified as a father. The moon is like a mother. And the eleven stars are like their children.
If we consider their roles and relationship with each other, we can understand that the sun (father) is the source of light. The moon (mother) draws its strength from the sun. Hence, she stays spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. The father defines the success of the family.
“He (the father) said: ‘O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they should arrange a plot against you. Verily Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!’” (Yusuf 12:5) Prophet Yaqoob (as) advises his son Yusuf (as) not to reveal his dream to his siblings. He is aware of their inherently jealous nature. As a father, he understands that all kids are not alike. They are likely to err. If a prophet’s sons can make mistakes, how can we expect ours not to?
After informing his son about sibling rivalry, the father also warns him about the role of Shaitan, which is to sow seeds of enmity and break up families.
“Verily in Yusuf and his brethren, there were Ayat for those who ask. When they said: ‘Truly Yusuf and his brother (Bin Yamin) are dearer to our father than we, while we are Usbah (a strong group). Really, our father is in plain error.” (Yusuf 12:7-8) The older sons wanted their father’s focus and attention. They considered their father to be in clear error for loving the younger two sons more.
“Kill Yusuf or cast him out to some (other) land, so that the favour of your father may be given to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending repentance before committing the sin).” (Yusuf 12:9) The brothers plot to execute Yusuf on account of their rivalry. They also realize that it is a sin, so they plan their repentance, too. They agree to unite in this sin and revert to piety later.
“One from among them said: ‘Kill not Yusuf but if you must do something, throw him down to the bottom of the well…’” (Yusuf 12:10) It seems that peer pressure was getting the best of them. The older brother did not wish to kill Yusuf (as), so he suggested abandoning him in a deep well.
“‘Send him with us tomorrow to enjoy himself and play, and verily we will take care of him.’ He Yaqoob said: ‘Truly it saddens me that you should take him away. I fear lest a wolf should devour him, while you are careless of him.’” (Yusuf 12:13)
The older sons begin to pressurize their father to let them take Yusuf (as). The father, in spite of assessing their misguided nature, lets him go. He does not want to break ties with his other sons by showing his mistrust for them.
“And they came to their father in the early part of the night weeping. They said: ‘O our father! We went racing with one another, and left Yusuf by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth.’” (Yusuf 12:16-17)
As planned, the brothers come lamenting about Yusuf’s killing. The father has not responded yet. They complain to him that he will not believe them.
“And they brought his shirt stained with false blood. He said: ‘Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allah (Alone), Whose help can be sought against that (lie) which you describe.’” (Yusuf 12:18)
This Ayah highlights the tool to handle sons – patience (Sabrun Jameel). Prophet Yaqoob (as) neither hit, nor reprimanded his disobedient sons. He simply communicated to them that he was aware of their sinful plotting and that he will turn to Allah (swt) wholly for deliverance from this situation. Prophet Yaqoob (as) remained with his sons for the remaining life.
“A Father Who Saw What Nobody Else Did”
Erik Weihenmayer was born with perfect eyesight. At the age of thirteen, he contracted a rare disease, rendering him blind. After much deliberation, Erik’s father enrolled him into a school that trained the blind for rock climbing skills.
Reality dawned upon Erik. He realized that playing a victim would not help his cause at all. Hence, he decided to focus on what he could do, instead of worrying and lamenting about what he could not.
By the time Erik Weihenmayor graduated, he had earned the title of being the school wrestling captain. Yet, he didn’t stop there. At the age of thirty-three, he conquered the peak of Mount Everest. His name will remain etched in history as the first sightless mountaineer to reach the summit of none other than the magnificent Mount Everest.
Erik achieved what people with sight don’t even dream about, let alone attempt. This man stands as an author and a motivational speaker today, all because his father refused to give up when he could have very easily. Instead, he believed in Erik. Despite his limitations, Erik’s father expected him to deliver his personal best – the best Erik was capable of.
This leads to a brewing question. What would have you done had you a son like Erik?
Adapted from a workshop titled “Cool Fathers, Super Sons” by Asim Ismail – Principal of Fajr Academy, Karachi