Where does it say the brothers of Yusuf were Prophets of Allah swt?


Where does it say the brothers of Yusuf were Prophets of Allah swt?


There are four positions regarding the prophethood of the brothers of Yusuf (as):

  1. they were prophets.
  2. that they were not prophets, for the prophets are ma`soom, infallible and the deeds of the brothers, as mentioned in the Quran, could not befit the prophetic office, even if done before they received the office.
  3. they were prophets after they were forgiven;
  4. among the scholars were those who took no stance.

Those who did consider the brothers of Yusuf (as) prophets based it on the understanding of the term al-Asbaat, which is found a number of times in the Holy Quran:

قولوا آمنا بالله وما أنزل إلينا وما أنزل إلى إبراهيم وإسماعيل وإسحاق ويعقوب والأسباط وبما أوتي موسى وعيسى والنبيون من ربهم لا نفرق بين أحد منهم ونحن له مسلمون

Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:136)

as well as in Surat al-Baqara, 2:140, Surat Aali-`Imran, 3:84 Surat an-Nisa, 4:163 and Surat al-A`raaf, 7:160.

Those who affirmed prophethood for Yusuf’s (as) brothers, as cited by Imam Suyuti in his Tafsir commenting on 2:136:

وأما أتباع التابعين فنُقِل عن ابن زيد أنه قال بنبوتهم، وتابعه على هذا فئة قليلة، وأنكر ذلك أكثر الأتباع فمن بعدهم، وأما الخلف فالمفسرون فِرَقٌ، منهم من قال بقول ابن زيد كالبغوي،

As for the Tabi` at-Tabi`een (Successors of the Successors), it has been transmitted from ibn Zayd that he affirmed their prophethood, and a small group followed him in this conclusion. And the majority of the Successors after them denied this. As for the later scholars (al-khalaf), they were divided, and of them al-Baghawi went with the saying of ibn Zayd.

Al-Hasan al-Basri said they were made Prophets after their repentance, which al-Mawardi said took them 20 years. Al-Qurtubi said this view is more acceptable.

Imam al-Maturidi in his Tafsir said Yusuf’s brothers were `ulama, not Anbiya.

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani says (@Sufilive.com):

There are different types of prophets: prophets without a message, prophets with a message, and Ooli ‘l-`Azham, the Highest Prophets. Some are prophets and some are messengers; the brothers of Sayyidina Yusuf (a) were prophets but not messengers. Sayyidina Yusuf (a) was a messenger.

As to how it is possible that prophets committed the forbidden acts they did Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani says (@Sufilive.com):

There is only one who is perfect: the Prophet (s)! Allah (swt) has protected Sayyidina Muhammad (s) and all other Prophets, as they are ma`soom, infallible. Although the brothers of Sayyidina Yusuf (a) who were also Prophets put him in the well, still they are ma`soom; they were drawn to do those acts to show the greatness of Sayyidina Yusuf (a).

As for those who denied their prophethood:

Imam at-Tabari, in his tafsir Jami` al-Bayaan fi ‘l-Qurani ‘l-Kareem, about the verse 2:136 says in part:

ويعنـي بقوله: { وَما أنْزِلَ إلـى إبْرَاهِيـمَ } صدّقنا أيضاً وآمنَّا بـما أنزل إلـى إبراهيـم وإسماعيـل وإسحاق ويعقوب والأسبـاط، وهم الأنبـياء من ولد يعقوب

And He swt means by saying: {And what was sent down to Abraham} We also accepted and believed in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes [al-Asbaat], who are the prophets from the descendants of Jacob.

In his tafsir Miftah al-Ghayb Imam ar-Razi says about this verse:

أما قوله: { وَالأسْبَاطَ } قال الخليل: السبط في بني إسرائيل كالقبيلة في العرب، وقال صاحب «الكشاف» السبط، الحافد، وكان الحسن والحسين سبطي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، والأسباط: الحفدة وهم حفدة يعقوب عليه السلام وذراري أبنائه الإثني عشر.

As for his saying: (and the tribes) Al-Khalil said: [the word] al-sabt, the tribe, with the Children of Israel is like the word qabeela, tribe, with the Arabs. He then references the author of al-Kashshaaf, Al-Zamakhshari who says about this verse:

والسبط الحافد. وكان الحسن والحسين سبطي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم { وَالاسْبَاطِ } حفدة يعقوب ذراريّ أبنائه الاثني عشر

The tribe means the grandchildren. Al-Hasan and al-Husayn were the two tribes,  sibtay, of the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. [Thus] {and the tribes} means the grandchildren of Jacob, descendants of his twelve sons.

Al-Baydawi in his tafsir Anwaar at-Tanzeel wa Asraar al-Ta’weel says:

والأسباط جمع سبط وهو الحافد،

And al-asbaat, the tribes, is the plural of sabt, a tribe, and it means the grandson.

Imam Suyuti, explaining the verse 2:136 said:

والأسباط: وَلَدُ يعقوب عليه السلام، وهم ٱثنا عشر ولدا، وُلِد لكل واحد منهم أُمّة من الناس واحدهم سِبْط. والسِّبْط في بني إسرائيل بمنزلة القَبيلة في ولد إسماعيل. وسُمُّوا الأسباط من السَّبط وهو التتابع فهم جماعة متتابعون. وقيل: أصله من السَّبَط بالتحريك وهو الشجر أي هم في الكثرة بمنزلة الشجر، .

As for the tribes: the descendants of Jacob, peace be upon him, and they were twelve of his descendants,  to each of which was born a nation from the people, and the singular is al-sabt, a tribe. As-sabt, ‘the tribe’ for the Children of Israel is as qabeela, ‘tribe’ for the Children of Ismail. And al-asbaat is from al-sabt, which is the succession, for they are a group of successors. And it was said: Its origin is from branching with movement, i.e. a tree, meaning they are in abundance like trees.

In sum:

The majority of scholars denied their prophethood.

As for the minority position that they were prophets, it was held by the Tabi` at-Tabi`een `Abd al-Rahman b. Zayd, followed by Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi and then the mufassir al-Baghawi; no one else apparently held this position and it was wholly rejected, in particular by al-Tha`labi in his Tafsir, who said it simply contradicts the infallibility of Prophets.

Al-Hasan al-Basri said they were made Prophets after their repentance, which al-Mawardi said took them 20 years. Al-Qurtubi said this view is more acceptable.

Taher Siddiqui

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