#488: Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) AS and the Woman Attracted to Him

Question:

Assalamualaikum w.b.t. I recently read a story about Prophet Yusuf and women were attracted to him. I want to know further about the meaning of the word “هَمّ” mentioned in surah Yusuf verse 24 and what is the interpretation of this word. The statement by Allah SWT is:

وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ ‎

“And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.” (Surah Yusuf: 24)

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam w.b.t.

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Allah SWT states:

وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ ‎

“And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.” [1]

According to al-Tabari, the truest opinion on this issue is that Allah SWT narrated about ‘هم يوسف’ and ‘هم امرأة العزيز’ one another.  If only Yusuf didn’t see the signs from his Lord, and it is the sign from Allah SWT which prevented him from committing the atrocious thing. The sign can be in the form of Ya’qub, a depiction of a king, or the warnings in the verses Allah SWT has stated in the Quran regarding adultery. None can ascertain the choice. The true action in this issue stated the same as stated by Allah SWT and believe it as well as leaving other than that to those who know. [2]

Al-Syaukani said: that the word ‘هم بالأمر’ means intended and determined to do the act. This means that Yusuf has the intention of being with the woman and the woman intends to be with him. Each was inclined towards the other and was attracted to each the same as how men and women are attracted to each other in general. However, previously, Yusuf never had the intent of it as a choice of his as depicted in his statement where he asked for Allah’s protection, for the act is an act of transgression and the prophets are protected from wanting to sin or intentionally do so.

Al-Syaukani further said: Some said the meaning of ‘هَمَّ بِهَا’ is ‘هَمَّ بِضَرْبِهَا’ (which means striking the woman). Some also stated that the meaning of ‘هَمَّ بِهَا’ is wishing to marry her. The majority of tafsir scholars, whether the salaf or khalaf interpreted the same as what is presented above, that is it means lexically, the arrangement of the verses is appropriate to their meanings. This is depicted in the following verses, “ذَٰلِكَ لِيَعْلَمَ أَنِّي لَمْ أَخُنْهُ بِالْغَيْبِ” (That is so al-‘Azeez will know that I did not betray him in [his] absence) and the verse “وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي ۚ إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ” (And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil). This means (intention) does not deny the sin. And only because Yusuf is protected that he is saved from falling into sin and this is what is commanded.[3]

Ibn Kathir in Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim [4] said the meaning of want (هَمّ) here is stated as al-Baghawi in Ma’alim al-Tanzil [5] as the waves induced from words of desire. This want narrated by Allah SWT here peaks in both the Prophet Yusuf AS and the woman. Or literally, it means both of them were lustful. However, several scholars contradicted such interpretations, among them is Ibn Hazm al-Andalusi who gave the meaning of al-Hamm (الهمّ) as being vengeful and wanting to strike. It means here that because the lust of the woman isn’t fulfilled by the Prophet Yusuf AS, she then chased Prophet Yusuf AS to strike him. Prophet Yusuf AS became angry and also hit her.

Syeikh Rasyid Ridha in Tafsir al-Manar [6] also supported the opinion of Ibn Hazm and scholars who agree with him. The reason is for the word al-Hamm (هَمّ) has another meaning that means striking or having evil intention, among them in verse 11 Surah Ali Imran, verse 122 Surah al-Nisa, verse 13 and 73 surah al-Taubah and several other verses.

Syeikh al-Maraghi when commenting on the above verse stated: Prophet Yusuf AS is seemingly getting greater and more amazing in front of the woman, and for his firmness in holding onto his religion and responsibility, preventing treachery and maintaining the honour of his owner and the owner of the woman except by insulting Prophet Yusuf AS through revenge. This is maybe what is planned by the woman to be immediately executed or nearly so that she meant to teach him a lesson. [7]

Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili in al-Tafsir al-Munir [8] said the interpretation of the verse should be considered after analyzing the whole verse. When it is interpreted as a whole, there is no element of desire presented in the above verse. The reason is based on the concept of ta’lik (لو لا) is used here. This means the want (or desire) is prevented with the sign of Allah SWT. Furthermore, according to him, if what is meant here is the waves induced by words of lust and the desire to commit adultery based on innate human desires, it is not an offence in syarak. The proof of this is when action is only taken when the want or intention is accompanied by determination and resolution to commit the act. This matter is stated by Rasullullah PBUH in a Qudsi hadith which states:

فَمَنْ هَمّ بِحَسَنَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا كَتَبَهَا الله عِنْدَهُ حَسَنَةً كَامِلَةً وَإِنْ هَمّ بِهَا فَعَمِلَهَا كَتَبَهَا الله عَزّ وَجَلّ عِنْدَهُ عَشْرَ حَسَنَاتٍ إِلَى سَبْعِمِائَةِ ضِعْفٍ إِلَى أَضْعَافٍ كَثِيرَةٍ. وَإِنْ هَمّ بِسَيّئَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا كَتَبَهَا الله عِنْدَهُ حَسَنَةً كَامِلَةً… وَإِنْ هَمّ بِهَا فَعَمِلَهَا، كَتَبَهَا الله سَيّئَةً وَاحِدَةً

“Whosoever intended to perform a good deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended to perform it and then did perform it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds up to seven hundred times, up to many times multiplied. And if he intended to perform an evil deed, but did not do it, then Allah writes it down with Himself as a complete good deed. And if he intended it [i.e., the evil deed] and then performed it, then Allah writes it down as one evil deed.” [9]

From the above discussion, it can be understood that the difference between the word al-Hamm which describes Prophet Yusuf AS and al-Hamm which comes from the woman is based on burning vengeance because her desires were rejected by Prophet Yusuf AS and based on sin. While al-Hamm of Prophet Yusuf AS is him defending and saving himself from the seduction of the woman as explained by Allah SWT in His statement:

كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ

“And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality.” [10]

At the end of this verse, Allah SWT purifies Prophet Yusuf AS from this sin and groups him among His sincere slaves.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1]  (Surah Yusuf: 24)

[2] See Jami’ al-Bayan ‘an Ta’wil Ay al-Quran, 14/575

[3] See Fath al-Qadir, 5/560

[4] See Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azim (4/381)

[5] See Ma’alim al-Tanzil (4/231)

[6] See Tafsir al-Manar (12/223)

[7] See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 6/3326

[8] See al-Tafsir al-Munir (12/240)

[9] Narrated by Muslim (355)

[10] Surah Yusuf (24)

Kami amat mengalu-alukan sumbangan anda untuk penyelenggaraan operasi Maktabah Al-Bakri.

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