Surah Yusuf >> Currently viewing Surah Yusuf Ayat 41 (12:41)

Surah Yusuf Ayat 41 in Arabic Text

يَـٰصَـٰحِبَىِ ٱلسِّجْنِ أَمَّآ أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسْقِى رَبَّهُۥ خَمْرًۭا ۖ وَأَمَّا ٱلْـَٔاخَرُ فَيُصْلَبُ فَتَأْكُلُ ٱلطَّيْرُ مِن رَّأْسِهِۦ ۚ قُضِىَ ٱلْأَمْرُ ٱلَّذِى فِيهِ تَسْتَفْتِيَانِ
Yaa saahibayis sijni ammaaa ahadukumaa fa yasqee rabbahoo khamranw wa ammal aakharu fa yuslabu fata’kulut tairu mir ra’sih; qudiyal amrul lazee feehi tastaftiyaan

English Translation

Here you can read various translations of verse 41

Sahih International
O two companions of prison, as for one of you, he will give drink to his master of wine; but as for the other, he will be crucified, and the birds will eat from his head. The matter has been decreed about which you both inquire.”

Yusuf Ali
“O my two companions of the prison! As to one of you, he will pour out the wine for his lord to drink: as for the other, he will hang from the cross, and the birds will eat from off his head. (so) hath been decreed that matter whereof ye twain do enquire”…

Abul Ala Maududi
Fellow-prisoners! (This is the interpretation of your dreams): one of you will serve wine to his lord (the king of Egypt). As for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat of his head. The question concerning what you asked has thus been decided.”

Muhsin Khan
“O two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he (as a servant) will pour out wine for his lord (king or master) to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.”

Pickthall
O my two fellow-prisoners! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified so that the birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which ye did inquire.

Dr. Ghali
O (you) two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he will give his lord wine to drink; and as for the other, then he will be crucified (and) so birds will eat of his head. The Command is decreed of which you (both) ask for pronouncement.

Abdel Haleem
Fellow prisoners, one of you will serve his master with wine; the other will be crucified and the birds will peck at his head. That is the end of the matter on which you asked my opinion.’

Quran 12 Verse 41 Explanation

For those looking for commentary to help with the understanding of Surah Yusuf ayat 41, we’ve provided two Tafseer works below. The first is the tafseer of Abul Ala Maududi, the second is of Ibn Kathir.

Ala-Maududi

(12:41) Fellow-prisoners! (This is the interpretation of your dreams): one of you will serve wine to his lord (the king of Egypt).As for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat of his head. The question concerning what you asked has thus been decided.”[34]


34. This discourse, which is the soul of this story, and is one of the best on the doctrine of Tauhid in the Quran itself, finds no place at all in the Bible and the Talmud. This is because they regard him merely as a wise and pious man and not as a Prophet. That is why Rev. Rodwell has, in regard to this passage, accused Muhammad (peace be upon him) of putting his own doctrine and conviction into the mouth of Joseph (peace be upon him). But the Quran not only puts forward and presents these two aspects of his life in a much better and clearer way but also presents him as a Prophet, who had started propagating the message even in the prison.

As this discourse suggests several very important things, it will be worthwhile to consider these one by one:

(1) This is the first occasion on which Prophet Joseph appears to have begun the preaching of the true faith. For before this, the Quran reveals him in the different stages of his life as a man of high morality but does not say anything to show that he conveyed the message also. From this it is clear that those stages were of a preparatory nature and the mission of Prophethood was entrusted to him at the stage of his imprisonment and this was his first discourse as a Prophet.

(2) Moreover, this was the first occasion when he revealed his identity to others. Before this, we find him bearing patiently everything that happened to him without revealing anything about his relationships with Prophet Abraham and others. He kept silent when the caravan made him a slave and carried him to Egypt, when Al-Aziz bought him and when he was sent to prison. As Prophet Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (peace be upon them all) were quite well known, he might have used their names to his advantage. The members of the caravan, both the Ishmaelites and the Midianites, were closely related to his family, and the Egyptians were, at least, familiar with the name of Prophet Abraham. Nay, the way in which Prophet Joseph mentioned their names in this discourse, shows that the fame of his father, grandfather and great grandfather had reached Egypt. But in spite of this, Prophet Joseph did not use their names on any of the critical occasions to save himself from the plight in which he was placed. This shows that probably he himself knew that these things were inevitable for his training for the mission for which Allah had chosen him. Now it was absolutely necessary for him, for the sake of his mission, to reveal this fact in order to show that he was not presenting any new faith but the same faith that was preached by Prophets Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (peace be upon them all). This was necessary because the message demanded that it should not be presented with the claim that it was a new and novel thing but that it was the same universal and eternal truth that has always been presented by its bearers.

(3) This teaches us that one can, like Prophet Joseph, carve out a way for the propagation of the message, if one has the intention and the required wisdom. The two men pay their homage to him and request him to interpret their dreams. In answer to this he says: I will tell their interpretations but let me first inform you about the source of my knowledge that enables me to understand dreams. Thus he takes advantage of their request and preaches his own faith to them. We learn from this that if a person is imbued with the true and strong desire for propagating the truth, he can very gracefully turn the direction of the conversation towards the message he desires to convey. On the contrary, if a person has no strong desire for the propagation of the message, he never finds any opportunity for it, even though hundred and one such opportunities might have come his way which could have been utilized for this purpose. But one must be on his guard to discriminate between the right use of an opportunity by a wise man from the crude propagation of a foolish and uncultured person, who tries to thrust the message into the ears of unwilling hearers and succeeds only in creating aversion for it in their minds because of his crude way of presentation.

(4) This also teaches the right procedure that should be followed in presenting the message. Prophet Joseph does not present, at the very start, the details of the creed and regulations of the faith but the most fundamental thing that distinguishes a believer from a non-believer, that is, the distinction between Tauhid and shirk. Then he presents it in such a rational manner as cannot fail to convince any man of common sense. And his argument must have impressed deeply on the minds of the two slaves. Which is better, various gods or One Omnipotent Allah? They knew it from their personal experience that it was much better to serve one master than a number of them. Therefore it was far better to serve the Lord of the universe than His servants. Moreover, he does not invite them directly to accept his faith and discard their own faith, but he very wisely draws their attention to this fact; This is Allah’s bounty upon us and upon all mankind that He has not made us the servants of any other than Himself, yet most of the people are not grateful to Him. Instead of serving Him alone, they invent gods for themselves and worship them. Then it is also noteworthy that his criterion of the faith of his addressees is based on wisdom and has no tinge of bitterness in it. He says: The gods whom you call, the god of wealth or the god of health or the god of prosperity or the god of rain etc. are mere names you have given them without any reality behind them. The real Owner of everything is the Supreme Allah Whom you also acknowledge as the Creator and the Lord of the whole universe. He has sent no authority and given no sanction to anyone for Godhead and worship, but has reserved all the powers, all the rights and all the authorities for Himself, and commanded, “Serve and worship none but Me.”

(5) It may also be inferred from this discourse that Prophet Joseph must have made full use of this opportunity of a decade for the propagation of the message. Some people think that that was the only time when he extended the invitation to the message. This is wrong for two reasons. First, it is absurd to imagine that a Prophet could have been neglectful of his mission for a long period. Second, it cannot be imagined that the person who availed himself of the opportunity when two men approached him for the interpretation of their dreams, could ever have passed a decade of imprisonment without propagating the message entrusted to him by his Lord.

Ibn-Kathir

41. “O two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his master to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head. Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.”


The Interpretation of the Dreams

Yusuf said,

﴿يصَاحِبَىِ السِّجْنِ أَمَّآ أَحَدُكُمَا فَيَسْقِى رَبَّهُ خَمْرًا﴾

(O two companions of the prison! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his master to drink;) to the man who saw in a dream that he was pressing wine. He did not direct this speech at him, however, so that to lessen the grief of the other person. This is why he made his statement indirect,

﴿وَأَمَّا الاٌّخَرُ فَيُصْلَبُ فَتَأْكُلُ الطَّيْرُ مِن رَّأْسِهِ﴾

(and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head.) which is the interpretation of the other man’s dream in which he saw himself carrying bread above his head. Yusuf told them that the decision about their matter has already been taken and it shall come to pass. This is because the dream is tied to a bird’s leg, as long as it is not truthfully interpreted. If it is interpreted, then it becomes a reality. Ath-Thawri said that `Imarah bin Al-Qa`qa` narrated that Ibrahim said that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, “When they said what they said to him, and he explained their dreams to them, they replied, `We did not see anything at all.’ This is when he said,

﴿قُضِىَ الاٌّمْرُ الَّذِى فِيهِ تَسْتَفْتِيَانِ﴾

(Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.)” The understanding in this is that he who claims that he saw a dream and was given its interpretation, then he will be tied to its interpretation, and Allah has the best knowledge. There is an honorable Hadith that Imam Ahmad collected from Mu`awiyah bin Haydah that the Prophet said,

«الرُّؤْيَا عَلَى رِجْلِ طَائِرٍ مَا لَمْ تُعْبَرْ، فَإِذَا عُبِرَتْ وَقَعَت»

(The dream is tied to a bird’s leg, as long as it is not interpreted. If it is interpreted, it becomes a reality.)

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