ثُمَّ بَدَا لَهُم مِّن بَعْدِ مَا رَأَوُا الْآيَاتِ لَيَسْجُنُنَّهُ حَتَّىٰ حِينٍ
It occurred to them (the noblemen and their spouses), even after they had seen the signs (of Joseph’s innocence), that they should imprison him for a time. (Yūsuf 12:35)
This verse can be interpreted from a few perspectives, as follows:
1. That incident, which was gossiped about among the women, spread widely in the capital of Egypt at that time. Therefore, although Joseph was innocent, he should have been declared guilty and imprisoned in order to cease the rumor and preserve the “honor” of the minister and his wife. This has usually been the common attitude and practice of many ruling powers in history.
2. Prophet Joseph, upon him be peace, did not defend himself while he was imprisoned because as a Prophet, in addition to preserving his honor and chastity, he was expected to consider the honor of his audience on the way to Paradise, to which he called others. Therefore, Prophet Joseph could not make the honor of others the subject of gossip among people. Also, he would have to preserve his tongue from backbiting others to the extent that he kept himself distant from any unlawful affair. During his stay in prison, the incident was forgotten in Egypt. The new younger generation did not know it. For the sake of preserving the honor of others, Prophet Joseph, upon him be peace, was consented to be imprisoned for around ten years.
3. In the end, those who slandered Joseph admitted his innocence even though it was around ten years later, saying, “Now the truth has come to light” (Yūsuf 12:51). Obviously, there is a huge difference be-tween self-exoneration and exoneration by others. Both Zulaykha and her friends admitted before the king and other royal personnel that Prophet Joseph, upon him be peace, was sinless and utterly chaste. Despite the facts that point to Joseph’s innocence, such as the tearing of Joseph’s shirt from behind and the Zulaykha’s confession before her friends, the illustrious Prophet was put in prison. Yet, this proved to be one of the steps in the accomplishment of his mission and signaled that there might be many other innocent people in the prison. There he underwent a trial to be perfected and convey God’s Message in Egypt. He was released from prison where he had been put as a slave but walked out as the conqueror of hearts and the beloved of the people of Egypt. Actually, at the moment he lost his freedom, he entered the path to conquering hearts. While he was thrown into nothingness in terms of his carnal existence and ego, he stepped towards another rank of revival of the heart and spirit. While he was achieving self-perfection, he breathed “life” into spiritually dead bodies and diffused light from the pyramids to lead them upon the way to the Israelite Prophets, such as Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus, peace be upon them all, and finally to Prophet Muhammad, the Crown of Prophethood and the Pride of Humankind, upon him be peace and blessings. This all happened one by one when their time came, and Joseph, upon him be peace, became a most true and virtuous reminder for the people who have come after him.