The lives of the past prophets are there for us to learn from. Sounds cliche right? But then imagine yourself in the situation of Prophet Yusuf (pbuh): Your siblings throw you in a well (in today’s context, your family or community bind you to a fate which you cannot get out of like blocking your opportunity to study or work) and basically leave you to die (and not grow intellectually, socially etc.). Imagine the fear and betrayal you would feel. You are then picked up by a stranger who sells you (in today’s context, a stranger takes advantage of you). You go through so much more but then end up in jail for a crime you did not commit (in today’s context, you may be imprisoned in a life circumstance which you cannot easily get out of).
You have the ability to interpret dreams but no one sees this skill or they simply ignore it (in today’s context you may have creativity skills, communications skills which no one recognises). While going through these hardships, you are separated for years from the family you love so dearly. But then an opportunity arises where your dream reading skills are needed which means you have the chance of proving yourself to others. You are then given a position of authority (you are empowered in your life) and the rest is history.
This is briefly the life of Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) which we all can find in our own lives to some degree. We just have to be able to connect his experience to our experience.
What’s really important in this story is not so much the ending but how Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) responded to the various situations he encountered. Let’s face it, he had it tough, but he got through it by dealing with each situation in the best way he knew. If a prophet of God is going to go through difficult times, we should not think that we aren’t going to. Life is going to hurt, life is going to make us cry, but we can get through it, just as Yusuf (pbuh) did and what’s more, we can grow from it. God did not give these hardships to Yusuf (pbuh) to bring him down, He gave these hardships to Yusuf (pbuh) to help him grow, just like your personal trainer does not ask you to do 50 sit ups because they want to bring you down, just like your teacher does not make you sit for an exam to bring you down.
When we read about the lives of the Prophets, we should try and see ourselves in those situations, the good and the difficult. It will teach us a lot about how to deal with life, but most importantly, it will teach us how we can grow as an individual.
In some moments in our life, we will feel like we are reliving Yusuf’s (pbuh) experiences, in another occasion, it will feel like Noah’s (pbuh) experience, and then Moses, Jesus, Adam, Jonah (pbut) and so on. We have so much to learn from each and every one of the lives of the prophets, if only we can personalise their lives.