From bad to… more bad?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.” So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing. Then it appeared to them after they had seen the signs that al-‘Azeez should surely imprison him for a time. [Qur’an, 33-35]


All of the rich and important (and attractive!) women of that time were after the Prophet Yusuf (as), even the wife of the minister. So Yusuf (as) prays to God to keep them away from him, even it means going to prison. So God sends him to prison.


One might ask, is that really what Yusuf (as) needs? From something bad to… even more bad? Why couldn’t Allah just keep those women away from him without having to send him to jail? From the outside, it looks like things keep getting worse for Yusuf (as). He gets out of one problem only to enter into another one.


But that is a matter of perspective. Every time a disaster is averted. And every time he is brought closer to something great. Every time he is growing in character, wisdom and closeness to God.


So sometimes, that prison is necessary. On the outside, it might seem like you simply moved from one bad thing to another bad thing, or an even worse thing. But what you don’t know is that you took an exit off a dangerous highway. The exit has thorns and is bumpy. But it’s an exit. And when you arrive, you arrive in Paradise.

Yusuf (as) was not blind to this. He didn’t complain. He was reassured. And he interprets the dreams of the two prisoners who are with him. He might have expected to be freed soon because he told the one whom he expected to be freed to mention him to his master. But he stayed in prison for years.

Finally, his moment comes. He interprets the dream of the king. He is appointed as a minister. He is reunited with his family, and his brothers ask for his forgiveness. Blessings one after the other.

So don’t feel disheartened when you pray to God to get you out of a job you hate, only for you to get a job that you hate equally as much. That could be your ‘prison’ that opens for you more doors.

The key to realizing all of this is to be like Yusuf (as). Keep God in mind wherever you are. Try to do good where you are and don’t make excuses. He talked to the prisoners about God. There is an opportunity to worship God in whatever situation you find yourself in. So don’t feel sorry for yourself. There will be an opening inshAllah. You might go from being hated by your brothers to being trapped in a well to a prison, but what you don’t know is it’s a step up. Keep up the hope. There is good in store for everyone who thinks well of Allah, who strives for Him and constantly turns to Him.


May Allah make us of them.


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