With respect to the story of Yusuf عليه السلام in what transpired between him and the wife of Al-Azeez his master (whom some call Zuleikhah), Allāh saysو لقد همت به و هم بها لولا أن رءا برهان ربه” And indeed she did desired him and he would have inclined to her desire, had he not seen the evidence of his Lord.” (Q 12:24).
The Mufassiroon (exegetes) give two interpretations for this verse.1. That prophet Yusuf did desire her but was stopped from acting on his desires by the ‘shreds of evidence’ of his Lord that he saw. Ironically this will seem the apparent translation of the verse – و هم بها (and he desired her) لولا أن رءا برهان ربه (had he not seen the evidences of his Lord).
Imam Al-Baghawi in his Tafseer mentions the statements of renowned scholars of history like Assudi and Ibn Ishāq on what transpired between Yusuf and the wife of Azeez. They say when she sought to seduce Yusuf she went on describing Yusuf in nice attractive ways. She said “O Yusuf, you have such nice hairs”, to which Yusuf replied “it will be the first of things to be lost (when I die)”Then she said “You have such beautiful eyes” and he responded “it will be the first part of my face to fall off in the grave” Then she said “You have such a beautiful face” And Yusuf said, “that is for the earth to devour (when I die)”.
Then she said “The silk bed has been made, now get up and fulfill my desires” to which Yusuf said, “(if I do that) then I will lose my share of Jannah”.She did not stop trying to seduce him in such manner, and he was a young man while she was an exceedingly beautiful and attractive woman, till he felt in his heart a desire, just as men will feel in such a circumstance, then Allāh intervened and rescued his prophet by showing him shreds of evidence.
That is why Allāh said “Thus it was, that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse” so Allāh showed him those evidences to protect him from falling into such sin of immorality. Some scholars have also mentioned different things as the evidences Allāh showed Yusuf. Some say he saw his Father Ya’qub touching his chest and admonishing him to be steadfast, some say he saw words of Allāh written on the ceiling, verses like و لا تقربوا الزنا… (and do not come close to Zina…), etc wallāhu a’lam.
You will also recall that Yusuf eventually said, after the wife of Azeez and the other women confessed to have been guilty of trying to seduce him ” And I do not seek to free myself from blame, for indeed the soul is ever inclined to evil, except those shown mercy by my Lord. Surely my Lord is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Q 12:53).2. Some scholars (especially the muta’akhireen) say this interpretation is not befitting for a prophet of Allāh, that instead there was ‘taqdeem and ta’kheer’ in the verse, a linguistic term used in Tafseer to refer to the reordering of the positions of words and or phrases in a sentence. Take, for instance, Allāh’s statement أرأيت من اتخذ إلهه هواه(Q 25:43)A direct translation of this sentence could be “Have you seen the one who takes his God as his desire…”.
This is not what the verse means as taking your Lord as your desire is something praiseworthy. So, even though God is mentioned in the verse before desire, what is meant is “Have you seen the one who takes his desires as his god” (i.e allowing his desires to dictate for him). This could then also be written as “have you seen the one who takes as his god, his desires”.
So, in the translation of a sentence, it is sometimes necessary to reorder the words for better comprehension. This is taqdeem and ta’kheer. So the scholars say as for the statement و هم بها لولا أن رءا برهان ربه (and he desired her had he not seen the evidences of his Lord) what is meant is لولا أن رءى برهان ربه لهم بها (had he not seen the evidences of his Lord he would have inclined towards her desire. So they say this is more befitting for a prophet of Allāh. We see that in the first opinion, desire did happen in his heart but Allāh intervened and halted the translation of the desire into action, but in the second, which I subscribe to, the desire never happened, but it will have, had Allāh not intervened by showing him evidences. Points to note in all of this: None of us should feel safe from falling into Zina! Allāh had to intervene to save his prophet from falling into sin, yet some of us act so carelessly on this issue as though we were immortals who can not feel desire or be seduced.
Never let yourself get into compromising situations with a woman such as being secluded. Even the mightiest have succumbed under the seduction of a woman. Love and sexual desire are seldom separate. If someone loves you they will likely also be sexually attracted to you. The same with if you love someone. That’s why it may be easy to turn down the sexual advance of other persons but those you love you are easy prey for them. Recall that the women in Egypt when they heard of Zuleikha’s attempt to seduce Yusuf, they mocked her and kept saying “قد شغفها حبا” (Love for him has plagued her heart).
It is her Love for Yusuf that pushed her into all that. It is therefore not uncommon for a woman in love with you to seek to seduce you, even if sometimes inadvertent, and vice versa. We are indeed weak over these affairs. That’s why the scholars will always say the best thing for two people in love is to get married! This is because otherwise, they will be a fitnah for one another! A married woman can fall in love with another man other than her husband if circumstance permits, like working in close proximity with a man who has lovable features. A society that has lax laws against free mixing should therefore expect by nature a spike in marital indiscretions even from wives who are known to be more conservative than husbands.
The Zani (fornicator or adulterer) and the one who intends to fall into it should fear just as Yusuf feared, of losing your portion in jannah! He should repent from it and do good deeds.May Allāh protect us and help us guard our chastity.
Written By: Abu Imran