“They (Yoosuf’s brothers) said: ‘O our father! We went racing with one another and left Yoosuf by our belongings, and a wolf ate him; but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth.’
And they brought his shirt stained with false blood. [Ya’qoob] said: ‘Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is Allaah (alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.’”[12: 17-18]
What is the most fitting behaviour for a person whose family hurts him or her?
We find the most excellent example in Yoosuf and Ya’qoob (a.s.) of what to do when we are hurt and wronged by our own close family members – to exercise patience, and a beautiful one at that.
Patience is not easy. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said that patient is to be adopted at the first stroke of a calamity. We see this in the example of Ya’qoob (a.s.), when his sons come to him with an obviously false tale about their brother’s death. Yoosuf (a.s.) was very close to his father, being the most favourite son because of his righteousness. One can imagine the anguish, the sinking feeling and the overwhelming helplessness Ya’qoob (a.s.) must have felt at the news, and yet he immediately reaches the conclusion that patience is most befitting and it is Allaah’s help that can only be sought.
We see that Ya’qoob (a.s.) deals with his sons on face value, even though he knows better. A normal father would have gone crazy with anger if he knew his sons had killed their innocent brother; in his fury he would even be ready to kill those sons himself. But we don’t see any such display of emotion by Ya’qoob (a.s.). He doesn’t even hurl accusations at them or sarcastic remarks. Neither does he say ‘I told you’ or ‘I warned you’, even though that was exactly what he had done before his children had left: “Indeed, it saddens me that you should take him, and I fear that a wolf would eat him while you are careless of him.” [12: 13]
Also, in the beginning of the soorah, we learn that if any of our family members may be seeking to hurt us, we should not share news of our blessings with them – because this will incite their jealousy, which will motivate them harm us. When Yoosuf (a.s.) got a true dream from Allaah which held good implications for the future, Ya’qoob (a.s.) told his son: “O my son! Do not relate your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you. Indeed, Shaytaan is to man an open enemy.” [12: 6]
Thus we also learn that the evil may not necessarily be residing in the veins of the evil-doer; rather, it is Shaytaan who is inciting him to do whatever he is doing.
Hence, we learn from the example of Ya’qoob (a.s.) the qualities we should adopt if we are hurt by our family members:
– Exercising caution from those who are jealous towards us
– Having good supposition about them (i.e. it is Shaytaan who is causing them to do such-and-such, they are not evil in themselves; perhaps they can come around)
– Having patience when they actually do something
– Dealing with them on face value, even if they are blatantly lying
– Seeking help from Allaah, giving them respite until Allaah’s Judgement comes to pass
May Allaah enable us to learn from these beautiful characters from the most beautiful story. Peace be upon Ya’qoob and Yoosuf (a.s.)
A Student of the Quran
I think the foremost thing is to have patience! (while I am writing this my daughter and her cousin were having a conversation in which the cousin said that her brother teased her a lot, so my 3 year old daughter says the next time he does that “hit him and get angry with him”). I think we take these things in our stride all the time and don’t give it any serious thought. However, while writing this I realized how important these little things are and how training needs to starts so early. None of us are willing to be patient even in the smallest matters in our lives. Be it in the marketplace, on the roads, at homes….I think it all begins when we are little infants and all our needs are taken care of , and if they are not we throw tantrums! As mothers, we need to attain wisdom on when to and when not to answer every whim of our child. As it could have lasting effects on our child as they get older, as well as eventually on the society they live in.
Also, if we do end up retaliating and harm those who have hurt us, then there is no difference between us and them. We need to invoke Allah and ask Him to protect us and help us.
A Student of the Quran
The most instinctive behavior for a person whose family hurts him/her is to retaliate and to take revenge. The most fitting behavior of a believer is to forgive and forget. This involves not bringing up the topic of hurt again ever in the future. This, however, is a very difficult thing to implement. The only way this can be achieved is to have complete (kamil) faith in Allah.
Ideally and as per the learning from Yaqub (AS) narration in Surah Yousuf, he did not even attempt to investigate or counter question the story or prove them wrong. He simply trusted in Allah and endured. I pray to Allah to give me such exemplary patience and iman.