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Verses 12:23-24 Surah Yusuf - the terms 'my Lord' and 'his Lord'


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Ruhi_Rose
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« on: August 30, 2021, 08:56:25 am »



 BismEm


"And she in whose house he was tried to seduce him.  She locked the doors and said to him, 'Come. '  He said, "I seek refuge in Allah!  Surely He is my Lord (Who has) made good my abode:  Surely the wrongdoers do not prosper.'"  12:23.

"She verily desired him, and he would have desired her if it had not been that he saw the argument of his Lord. Thus it was, that We might ward off from him evil and lewdness.  Indeed! he was of Our chosen slaves."  12:24.



As-Salam Alaykum dear all.   In the above Verses it's absolutely clear that the words "my Lord" in V.12:23 and "his Lord" in V.12:24 refer to Allah Almighty.   But much to my surprise I hear some commentators and readers of the Quran think that the reference is to the master of the house where Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) resided.   How could they come up with such an absurd opinion? 

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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2021, 09:08:37 am »



Walaikum As-Salam.  Right-on totally, sister.  The references in those two Verses is to Allah Almighty and none else, and all mainstream commentators and translators agree with that.   The confusion arose because of a few inexperienced and poor translators who couldn't understand these Verses correctly, even though the Verses are crystal clear.  Subhan'Allah.  On account of the misunderstanding of few of these ignorant translators who have written the letter "L" for 'Lord' with lower case 'l' .. some people who read their translations got the impression that the allusion was to the master of the house.  The fault lies squarely on the translators for their incorrect work.

In V.12:23 the original word mentioned for "My Lord" is ربى (Rabbi).  This word is always used for Allah, addressed to Him only and no one else.  It is impossible that Prophet Yusuf would use the term "Rabbi" for a human being. 

In V.12:24 the original word stated for "his Lord" is رَبِّهِ (Rabbihi) as Allah Almighty speaks.  Without a doubt, for sure, Allah is referring to Himself and none else. 


Reading ahead .. In V.12:25 the reference is to the master of the house.   Quoting that Verse:

"And they raced with one another to the door, and she tore his shirt from behind, and they met her lord and master at the door."  12:25.

The Quranic term stated in Verse 12:25 is سيدها  which literally means 'master' but here it refers to the woman's husband.  Again, some translators, even the recognized ones like Pickthall and Yusuf Ali, have translated the word سيدها (sayyidahā) as "lord and master" or "lord."  The use to the word "lord" in the translation is completely wrong and unnecessary.  It is actually this mistranslation in V.12:25 that apparently prompted the inexperienced translators to misunderstand and mistranslate the preceding two Verses.

In V.12:24 "the argument of his Lord." means the guidance of Allah Almighty to help Prophet Yusuf reject the temptation caused by the woman.  For that reason Prophet Yusuf said in V.12:23 that he sought refuge in Allah, Who had bestowed on him a lot of kindness by providing him with a good place to live in.  In other words, Prophet Yusuf said he would never betray The Almighty by yielding to such lewd temptations and indulging in an immoral act. 

It was because of Prophet Yusuf's firm Faith in Allah and his decision and awareness of the significance to hold firmly to the guidance of Allah that he was able to fend off this temptation and save himself from a tremendous transgression.  Maybe it was also a test for Prophet Yusuf in which he was hugely successful by the help and mercy of Allah.  It also reflects that The Almighty takes special care for guiding and protecting His prophets from misguidance and temptations because they are His chosen slaves.  Subhan'Allah.

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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2021, 09:23:01 am »



I read in Maududi's commentary where he said that in Arabic grammar the usage of the word 'lord' for human masters is also there but in Verses 12:23-24 the reference is definitely and surely to Allah Almighty.  In my opinion, that practice of Arabic grammar is very old, of pagan era.  I don't know nor read of any Muslim using the word 'rab' in Arabic for human masters nowadays. 
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« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2021, 09:34:45 am »



Walaikum Salam brother.    Muslim use of the word “Rab” is only for Allah and it is with a capital ‘R.’

Maududi is right; according to Arabic grammar the term ‘rab’ (‘lord’ in English) is also used for humans alluding to ‘master.’  But as you too rightly suggested, that grammatical culture of the Arabic language is ancient, of pre-Islamic times.  No Muslim presently uses “rab” for humans at all.  Whenever believers say “my Rab” it refers only to Allah.  In the Noble Quran whenever Prophets are quoted as saying “my Rab” (Rabbi), it always refers to Allah Almighty only.  In one Verse of Surah 12 Verse 50 the word ‘your rab’ indicates a human being, which is only when the Quran quotes someone addressing a non-Muslim.  Quoting Verse 12:50 of Surah Yusuf:

“And the king said: ‘Bring him to me.’  But when the messenger came to him, [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: ‘Return to your lord (master) and ask him, what happened to the women who cut their hands?  Surely, my Lord (Allah) is Well-Aware of their plot.’ “  12:50.

As you can see in the above Verse 12:50 that when Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) said “your lord” (it must be written with a lower case ‘l’), he referred to the human master of a non-Muslim society.  When he said “my Lord” then he referred to Allah Almighty.


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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2021, 09:35:47 am »



Exactly, very correctly elucidated sister. 
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2021, 09:45:04 am »



Walaikum As-Salaam.  Excellent thread, Mash'Allah.  This is vital information.  There is sometimes a bit of confusion about it because of incorrect translations of certain Verses of Surah 12.  Your perception is spot-on Sister Heba.

This reminds me, Pickthall too has translated one Verse of this Surah, V.12:68, very incorrectly. 

The original Arabic:

" وَلَمَّا دَخَلُوا مِنْ حَيْثُ أَمَرَهُمْ أَبُوهُمْ مَا كَانَ يُغْنِي عَنْهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا حَاجَةً فِي نَفْسِ يَعْقُوبَ قَضَاهَا ۚ وَإِنَّهُ لَذُو عِلْمٍ لِمَا عَلَّمْنَاهُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ "
12:68


Transliteration for those who cannot read Arabic:

“Walammā dakhalū min ḥaythu amarahum abuhum ma kana yughni  anhum mina Allahi min shayin illa hajatan fi nafsi ya’quba  qadaha wa-innahu ladhū il’min lima ʿallamnāhu walākinna akthara al-nasi la yaʿlamūna.” 12:68


English translation by Sahih International:
“And when they entered from where their father had ordered them, it did not avail them against Allah at all except [it was] a need within the soul of Jacob, which he satisfied. And indeed, he was a possessor of knowledge because of what We had taught him, but most of the people do not know. “ 12:68


English translation by Pickthall:
“And when they entered in the manner which their father had enjoined, it would have naught availed them as against Allah; it was but a need of Jacob's soul which he thus satisfied; and lo! he was a lord of knowledge because We had taught him; but most of mankind know not.”  12:68


The word لَذُو (ladhu) in Arabic as stated in V.12:68 means ‘possessor’ or a person with lot of knowledge as bestowed by Allah.   All recognized translators have used one of these two expressions, except Pickthall who has mentioned ‘lord of knowledge.’  That’s a very incorrect translation.  I don’t know how he didn’t realize this point.

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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2021, 09:57:01 am »



That's a very significant point.  Thank you Sister Zeynab as I hadn't noticed it earlier.  I would certainly never expect Pickthall to make this sort of mistake. 
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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2021, 10:05:33 am »



Thanks much for adding this Sister Zeynab.  That was very well explained.  I too didn't recall this blunder by Pickthall.
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2021, 10:16:10 am »



Thank you so much for helping me on this topic.  Very intelligently explicated and thoughtful observation. 

You know what?   When I checked the list of translations for V.12:23, not just the inexperienced translators, but Sahih International, Pickthall, Yusuf Ali and Mohsin Khan, all four of them have made the mistake I questioned about.  Shakir and Mohammad Sarwar are among the few who have translated it correctly.

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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2021, 10:43:59 am »



Even Abdel Haleem has made the same mistake on V.12:23. 

"The woman in whose house he was living tried to seduce him: she bolted the doors and said, ‘Come to me,’ and he replied, ‘God forbid! My master has been good to me; wrongdoers never prosper.’" V.12:23 Translated by Abdel Haleem.

The original word "Rabbi"  (my Lord) by which Prophet Yusuf meant Allah Almighty, Sahih International has mistranslated it as 'my lord' with a small 'l' implying that Prophet Yusuf referred to the master of the house as 'my lord."  Not correct at all.  Following this wrong translation, Abdel Haleem translated it as "my master."  This means Haleem followed the explanation of Sahih International but changed the word 'lord' to 'master' .... whereas in reality Prophet Yusuf alluded to Allah only. 

Sometimes the mainstream translators make big mistakes and the lesser known translators do a better job.
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2021, 10:51:22 am »



That surprises me.   I thought Haleem was more careful with his understanding of Quranic Verses.

I agree with you guys.  There are times when mainstream translators make unnecessary blunders while the supposedly more inexperienced ones perceive correctly.


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