Friday, August 28, 2009
Meeting JOSEPH in the QURAN (for the first time)
Joseph was a man singled out for this amazing purpose: to help his nation's people as well as helping family who had misused him and while so doing and being a forerunner of others specially so marked. Constantly he was forgiving and turning evil into good. Yet Joseph - good man 'though he was - knew he needed supernatural help with some situations like we all do - to ward off misconduct. Striking that to Joseph - doing right was so precious that he risked jail rather than to act wrongly. The way Joseph begged so urgently, fervently for God's help at some points strikes a strong reminiscent chord.
Revenge was not for Joseph - even when it was common - he found other ways. He navigated among peoples with other beliefs apparently at ease with himself, his own role and with great dignity. He worked to help society (the poor as well as the well established) with most basic physical as well as moral needs without becoming part of any war machinery. He neither took on values contradictory to his own convictions nor did he force his on others. He found his own way to accomplish the Divine will.
While Joseph became highly esteemed, he did not reduce his calling by arrogance. Even his imprisonment he turned into blessings. Joseph brings to mind the role of those who "stand in the gap" - who become a bridge between the rich and poor, the oppressed and the rulers who may have ignored or oppressed them.
His role was one of peace.
I noticed something in this the story of 'Joseph' which reminds me of a frequent theme in my discussions and readings: the value of dignity in all. Nor did Joseph reduce this dignity - even to his conniving brothers by offering "cheap grace". Yet for their own sake and for perhaps the sake of his own respect, Joseph made sure some lessons were well-learned. Kind acts for Joseph needed discretion, knowledge and craftily-wise intuition - important qualities to include along with compassion. Those given to natural and frequent acts of charity can sometimes be used or misled and thus lose dignity and then so do those who misuse the giving person.
There is a universal and timeless pattern here between the Divine and the seer, mystic, prophet or savior of the people: "Your Lord is choosing you and teaching you how to interpret events, and completing His favor towards you..." Just consider that it is the One - Love in complete Essence - the only Pure, Merciful, All-Knowing One wants us to learn to discern - to interpret events in our own time and often provides the means.
THERE IS A CONTINUITY HERE IN JOSEPH - a continuity from generation to generation - between historical eras even - which so often we forget. After editing this - I read Khurram Ali Shafique Sahib's offering on Joseph in Republic of Rumi and especially noted this that "every single item is a metaphor that may never run out of applications in the lives of individuals, nations and humanity."
So much of life seems to be an emergency today as then. The fast pace in Chapter 12 of the Quran also gives this sense. Yet by contrast, how helpful to see this universal wisdom from the mouth of Joseph's father earlier in story "Patience is beautiful!" And then in the narrative that - with Joseph - Love "was Dominant in his affair, even though most...do not realize it." Love was there all along.
Original source of photo at top of page - by Urang Awak - an Indonesian here
Posted by CN at 9:39 PM