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She desired him and he desired her (Qur'an 12:24) : ' Abd al-Ra'ûf's treatment of an episode of the Joseph story in Tarjumân al-Mustafîd - article ; n°2 ; vol.57, pg 109-134


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Archipel - Année 1999 - Volume 57 - Numéro 2 - Pages 109-134
26 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



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Anthony H. Johns
"She desired him and he desired her" (Qur'an 12:24) : ' Abd al-
Ra'ûf's treatment of an episode of the Joseph story in Tarjumân
In: Archipel. Volume 57, 1999. pp. 109-134.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Johns Anthony H. "She desired him and he desired her" (Qur'an 12:24) : ' Abd al-Ra'ûf's treatment of an episode of the Joseph
story in Tarjumân al-Mustafîd. In: Archipel. Volume 57, 1999. pp. 109-134.
doi : 10.3406/arch.1999.3520
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/arch_0044-8613_1999_num_57_2_3520H. JOHNS Anthony
"She desired him and he desired her" (Qur'an 12:24) :
'Abd al-Ra'ûf s treatment of an episode of the Joseph story
in Tarjumân al-Mustafid
The vernacularization of Islamic learning is a core focus in the
exploration of the religious life and culture of Muslims in Southeast Asia.
Evidence of its results are to be found in the abundance of Arabic loan
words that are part of Malay and related local languages by the 17th century
and the fact that no writings in Malay are preserved not written in a local
form of the Arabic script.
Its achievements are to be seen in the literary heritage of Islamic works
from seventeenth century Acheh, which includes a variety of vernacular
works, Malay works of Islamic learning, including tafsir,fiqh and tasawwuf,
alongside a rich tradition of stories of the prophets, historical works and
belles lettres. Winstedt's so-called History of Classical Malay Literature,
Liaw Yock Fang's Sejarah Kesusastraan Melayu Klassik and a number of
other general surveys give an indication of the richness of the cultural
achievement by this date. U)
Both process and achievement are still inadequately appreciated or
understood. There is little historical evidence of the institutional bases which
supported them and from which they derived. Little is known of the history
Sejarah 1. Winstedt, Kesusastraan R.O.W., A Melayu History Klasik of Classical I, Penerbit Malay Erlangga Literature, : Indonesia, JMBRAS, 1991. Vol. 31, 1958 ; Liaw Yock Fang,
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999, pp. 109-134 110 Anthony H. Johns
of individual madrasah or pesantren. And evidence of a personality base, the
lives and personalities of the " ulamâ ", the teachers who staffed such
institutions are not well-known. Such local biographical resources in so far
as they exist are fragmentary, erratic in their distribution, and largely
The vernacular texts themselves have inspired a number of monographic
studies, ranging from the works of Schrieke, Kraemer and Doorenbos(2) of
the pre-war generation, to that of Drewes, Brakel, Syed Naguib al-Attas and
Siti Chamamah Soeratno(3> during more recent years. Conspicuous by their
paucity, however, are studies relating to the vernacular understanding of the
Qur'an, or the development and popularity in a Malayo-Indonesian
environment of Qisas al-Anbiya' - Stories of the Prophets, that the Qur'an
has inspired.
An aspect of the Qur'an often overlooked is its character as a story book.
The dramatically structured pericopes presenting brilliantly etched scenes
from the lives of the prophets have a powerful attraction. They make an
indelible impression on the minds of reciters and listeners alike, and with
their ellipses, frequently referential style and "open" character, created a
desire on the part of Muslims from the very beginnings of Islam to know
more of these heroes which the first generations of Qur'an exegetes, went to
great lengths to satisfy, and in effect created the genre.
Such stories have a significant role in Qur'anic exegesis, and are closely
associated with it. Generated out of encounters with the Qur'an, they form
an introduction to the Qur'anic world view, and in turn lead back to the
Qur'an and prophecy. Often superbly told, they command attention for their
literary qualities as much as for the religious values and attitudes implicit
within them.
It is such stories that by their very nature provide a means of religious
and social bonding within Muslim communities. They generate among
Muslims a shared word of heroes, role-models for imitation and edification,
establishing among communities an awareness of the spiritual universe of
2. Schrieke, B.J.O., Het Boek van Bonang, Dissertation, University of Leiden, 1916; Kraemer, H., Een
Javaansche primbon mt de zestiende eeuw. of 1921 ; Doorenbos, J., De
Geschriften van Hamzah Pansoeri, Dissertation, University of Leiden, 1933.
3. Drewes, G.W. J. and Brakel, L. F., The poems of Hamzah Fansuri, Bibliotheca Indonesica 26, Foris
Publications : Dordrecht-Holland/Cinnaminson, U.S.A. 1986; al-Attas, Syed M. Naguib, The Mysticism
of Hamzah Fansuri, Kuala Lumpur, 1970; Soeratno, Siti Chamamah, Hikayat Iskandar Zulkamain, Balai
Pustaka : Jakarta, 1992; Brakel, L.F., The Hikayat Muhammad Hanafiyyah, A Medieval Muslim-Malay
Romance, Bibliotheca Indonesica 12, Foris Publications, Dordrecht-Holland/Cinnaminson, U.S.A., 1975.
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999 " her" (Qur'an 12:24) 111 She desired him and he desired
Islam, a universalisée vision of the world and a linear account of time from
genesis to eschaton to which every individual has a place.
They enjoy their popularity in part because of the centrality of prophecy
in the Islamic religious tradition. Muhammad is the seal of the prophets, but
his predecessors in salvation history, from Adam (the first man and first
divinely appointed teacher to his progeny) onwards, are well-known in every
Muslim household, and provide a cornucopia of names for male children.
The prophets are models of human excellence, divinely chosen as
messengers, bearers of good tidings and warners to the peoples to whom
they are sent.
They provide an exemplary model of the role of story-telling in
establishing a shared sense of community and history. They have become an
integral part of both oral and written literary traditions in Malay. An early
example is a Malay version of the story of Dhû'1-Qarnayn, referred to in sura
18 of the Qur'an, widely identified with Alexander the Great. (4) Winstedt
refers to a Ms of the story of Joseph, dating from 1604.(5) The popularity of
such stories from very early times is amply attested in the MSS catalogues,
whether as collections under the general rubric of Qisas al-Anbiyâ ', or
stories of individual prophets. (6)
Among the stories of the prophets presented in the Qur'an, that of Joseph,
"the best of stories" (Sura 12 : 2), is regarded as the very epitome of story
telling and moral instruction. The story itself is world class. It encompasses a
variety of themes. It shows jealousy, envy, sexual temptation and deceit,
ovewhelmed by generosity, patience and forgiveness by virtue of prophetic
wisdom. And it shows how good is brought out of evil, and wrong is righted.
It has generated numerous re-tellings in Malay and even more in Javanese.
The earliest extant rendering in Malay of the Qur'anic telling of the story
is in Tarjumân al-Mustafld a work by the Achehnese scholar 'Abd al-Ra'ûf
of Singkel (1615-1693), and dates from the second half of the 17th century.
The Tarjumân al-Mustafid is, by and large, a rendering into Malay of the
single volume Arabic commentary on the Qur'an, Tafsir al-Jalâlayn.O)
While there may have been other renderings of Qur'anic commentaries that
4. See Liaw Yock Fang, Sejarah, pp. 261-3.
5. Winstedt, History, p. 73.
6. See Liaw Yock Fang, Sejarah, pp. 205-207.
7. This work, the tafsir of the two Jalils - hence the dual form of the title - was commenced by Jalâl al-
Din al-Mahalli (d.1459), and completed by his pupils the great scholar Jalâl al-Din al-Suyuti (d.1505),
famous for his work on the Islamic sciences al-ItqSnfi 'ulûm al-Qur'ân. It is a tafsir well known all over
the Muslim world, and virtually the foundation text of all Qur'anic studies in Southeast Asia.
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999 112 Anthony H. Johns
have included the chapter of Joseph, no longer extant, in practice this work is
of unique importance. 'Abd al-Ra'ûf was an extraordinary scholar, and his
Tarjumân represents a vernacularization of the Qur'an in the context of an
authoritative commentary and has shaped understanding of the Qur'an for
Malay speakers over three centuries. Its treatment of the sura Yûsuf then
provides one of the earliest encounters of the peoples of Southeast Asia with
the Qur'anic version of the story in a vernacular, the form in which hundreds
of thousands of students at madrasah in the region have come to terms with
Until the 19th century, it was known only through MSS. In 1302/1884, it
was published in Istanbul. It rapidly established itself as a basic text, in
madrasah and pesantren, and is still regularly reprinted. It has been little
studied. It was widely regarded as a rendering of al-Baydâvï's Anwâr al-
Tanzil. W It was not definitively established that it was based on the tafsir al-
Jalâlayn, a work very different in character, until the publication of Dr.
Riddell's Ph.D thesis in 1990.(9)
This essay presents two scenes from Sura 12 (vv. 22-34) as rendered by
'Abd al-Ra'ûf in the Tarjumân. The first (vv. 22-29), tells of Zulaykha's
attempt to seduce Joseph, the second (vv. 30-34) of her displaying him
before the women of Egypt who have been gossiping about her misplaced
love for him.
It should be stressed that notionally, at least, we have not a translation of
the sura, but a commentary. In practice, it involves a close rendering in
Malay of the Qur'anic text, accompanied by a rendering in Malay of glosses,
identifications, completion of ellipses, anecdotal data, and the insertion of
link passages, mostly taken from the Tafsir al-Jalâlayn.
The following is a close English rendering of the two scenes to establish
an overview of 'Abd al-Ra'ûf's analysis of them. It follows the Arabic
closely, using the same palette of diction as used in the English rendering of
'Abd al-Ra'ûf's text.
It may be divided into two parts :
8. The full title of Baydâwï's tafsir is Anwir al-tanzil wa asrïr al-ta'wil. There are numerous editions
published in Cairo and Beirut and elsewhere.
9. The work is virtually unstudied, apart from an edition of juz' 16, i.e. al-Kahf v.75 - Ta Ha v.135, by
Dr. Riddell. See Riddell, Peter, Transferring a Tradition 'Abd al-Ra'ûf al-Singkili 's Rendering into Malay
of the JalSlayn Commentary, Monograph No 31, Monograph Series, Centers for South and Southeast
Asia Studies, University of California at Berkeley, 1990.
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999 " " (Qur 'an 12:24) 113 She desired him and he desired her
I - Zulaykha attempts to seduce Joseph
22 When he reached his full maturity
We gave him authority and knowledge
- so do We reward those who do good.
23 She in whose house he was made a [sexual] demand of him,
locking the doors, and saying to him,
Here with you !
He said
I take refuge with God !
My master has given me a good lodging.
Those who do evil do not prosper.
24 She desired him and he desired her.
Had he not seen the sign of his Lord [he would have lain with her].
- so did We that We might divert from him
evil and disgrace,
indeed he is of our chosen servants.
25 The two of them raced each other to the door
and she tore his garment at the back.
The two of them met her husband at the door.
She said,
There is no requittal for one intending
evil to one of your household
other than imprisonment
or a painful punishment !
26 He said,
She made a [sexual] demand of me !
A witness of her household gave testimony,
If his garment is torn from the front,
she has spoken the truth
and he is of those who lie ;
27 and if his garment is torn from the back,
then she has lied,
and he is of those who are truthful.
28 So when he [Potiphar] saw his garment was torn from the back
he said
Indeed, this is of your deceit !
Your deceit is very great !
29 Joseph, turn aside from this [matter].
You, [woman] ask pardon of God for your sin,
indeed, you are of those who sin.
II - Zulaykha presents Joseph to the women of Egypt
30 The women in the city said
The wife of the governor is making a [sexual] demand of her servant,
He has pierced her heart with love.
Indeed we see her in evident error.
31 Then when she heard their back-biting she sent to them [summoning them],
and prepared for them a cushion
giving each of them a knife,
and she said
Come out before them !
Then when they saw him they extolled him
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999 114 Anthony H. Johns
they cut their hands and said,
Flawless is God [in creating him]
This is no human being,
He is none other than a gracious angel.
32 She said,
So this is he for whom you blamed me.
I made a [sexual] demand of him
yet he preserved his virtue.
If he does not do what I command him,
he will surely be imprisoned,
he will be of those despised.
33 He said,
My Lord, prison is more loved of me
than that to which they call me.
And if you do not divert from me their deceit,
I will incline to them,
I will be of those who are ignorant.
34 So his Lord answered him [his plea]
for He diverted from him their deceit.
Indeed it is He who is the Hearer, the Knower.
The text is transcribed from a microfilm of the 1302/1884 Istanbul edition
of the work, and observes the segmentation of verses made by 'Abd al-Ra'ûf
(AR).(10) Where verse-units are sub-divided, the divisions are indicated by
(a), (b), (c) etc after the verse number. To distinguish between the Qur'anic
text, close Malay renderings of the Qur'an and commentary based on Arabic
sources, different type-faces are used. The transliteration of the Qur'an is in
bold; close renderings of the Qur'anic words in Malay are in plain text;
commentary (explanatory details, completion of ellipses, identifications,
glosses etc) from the Arabic of the Tafsir al-Jalâlayn, is in italic ; glosses
from the JalMayn substituting for a literal rendering of a word or phrase in a
rendering of the Qur'an is in italic, but in round brackets. Words or passages
of commentary from other commentators, some of which may be 'Abd al-
Ra'ûf's own, are also in italic, but in < > brackets apart from the excursus
following (24b). Perceived minor omissions from the text are supplied in
square brackets.
10. Detail of the MSS and printed sources available for the study of the Tarjumân are given in Riddell,
Transferring a Tradition pp. 15-20, & pp. 26-31.
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999 " " (Qur'an 12:24) 1 1 5 She desired him and he desired her
I - Zulaykha attempts to seduce Joseph
(22a) wa lammi balagha ashuddahu ataynShu hukman wa 'ilman
Dan tatkala sampailah ia kepada kesudah-sudahan keras tubuhnya dengan berumur tigapuluh
tahun, telah Kami nugrahai akan dia (hikmat dan ingaf) akan agama, [dahulu] daripada ia
disuruhkan [sebagai nabi],
When he reached the fullness of his physical strength - at the age of thirty years - We
gave him (wisdom and understanding) of religion [before] he was called [as a
prophet], Hi)
(22b) wa kadhSlika najzl'l-mufrsinlna
dan seperti telah kami balas akan <Yusuf> itu Kami balas akan segala yang berbuat baik.
and as We rewarded <Joseph>, so do We reward those who do good.
(23a) wa rSwadathu'l-latl huwa fi baytihS 'an nafsihi wa ghallaqati'l-abw&ba
Dan telah dituntut oleh yang ia di dalam rumahnya itu - yakni Zulaykha - daripadanya, -
bahwa diwati akan dia - serta ditutupnya segala pintu rumahnya.
She in whose house he was - that is Zulaykha - made a [sexual] demand of him - that he
have intercourse with her- while shutting the doors of her house.
(23b) wa qilat hayta laka
Dan dikatanya baginya, "Marilah engkau bersegera <pada menjabat daku>". And she said
to him, "Come you swiftly <to take hold ofme> ".
(23c) Q51a ma'adha'll&hi innahu rabbi ahsana mathwSya
Kata <Yusuf>, "Berlindung aku kepada Allah ta'ala daripada yang demikian itu. Bahwa
sanya yang <menebus> daku itu penghuluku telah diperbaikinya tempatku, maka tiadalah
harus aku khianat akan isi rumahnya" .
<Joseph> said, "I take refuge with God from such as that. Indeed, the one who
<ransomed> me is my master, he has made good my lodging, so I should not betray his
(23d) innahu 11 yuflifru'l-z&limOna
Bahwa sanya - pekerjaan itu - tiada beroleh kemenangan (segala orang yang zina.)
Indeed - the fact of the matter - (those who commit adultery) do not gain prosperity.
(24a) wa la qad hammat bihi wa hamma bihl
Dan sanya telah dikasad <oleh Zulaykha itu> daripadanya jima ', dan dikasad <oleh Yusuf>
daripadanya yang demikian itu.
Indeed <Zulaykfia> desired intercourse with him, and <Joseph> desired such from her.
(24b) law IS an ra'i burh&na rabbihi
Jikalau tiada dilihat <oleh Yusuf> suatu tanda daripada Tuhannya akan keji pekerjaan zina,
niscaya dijima 'nya akan dia.
If <Joseph> had not seen a sign from his Lord as to the wickedness of the act of adultery,
he would certainly have had intercourse with her.
Bahwa kata ibn 'Abbas tatkala itu bahwa dirupakan Allah Ta 'ala bagi Yusuf Y a 'qub. Maka
dipukulnya dadanya, maka keluar keinginannya daripada segala anakjarinya. (Dan tersebut
11. Rendering the Jalalayn... pikmatan wafiqhanfi'1-dïn qabla an yub'atha nabiyan.
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999 116 Anthony H. Johns
didalam Baidawi telah dilihatnya Jibra'il. Dan kata setengah, terupa bagi Yusuf Ya'qub
menggigit<12) segala anak jarinya. Dan kata setengah, dilihatnya Qitfir. Dan kata setengah
telah diserukan, "Hai Yusuf, bahwa engkau tersurat di dalam jumlah segala anbiya, padahal
kauberbuat perbuatan segala orang yang dungu)". Wa'llahu a'iam !
Ibn 'Abbas says that at that time, Almighty God presented an image of Jacob to Joseph. He
smote his [Joseph' s]chest, and his desire came out from his fingers.
(It is stated in Baydawi that he saw Gabriel. Some say that Joseph saw an image of Jacob
biting his fingers. Others say that he saw Potiphar. Others say that there was a cry, "Joseph,
you indeed are inscribed among the number of the prophets, yet you are about to do an act of
the foolish ").03> God knows best !
(24c) kadhSlika li nafrifa 'anhu'1-sU'a wa'1-fahshV, innahu min 'ib&din&i-mukhlafind*)
<Bermula> kami perlihatkan akan dia tanda yang tersebut itu supaya kami palingkan
daripadanya (khianat [dan] zina). Bahwa sanya, adalah ia daripada jumlah segala hamba
Kami yang ikhlas pada berbuat bakti.
We showed him that sign so that We might divert from him betrayal [and] adultery.
Indeed he is one of our servants who are sincere in doing acts of devotion. ( '5)
(25a) wa'stabaq&'l-b&ba wa qaddat qamigahu min duburin wa alfayi sayyidahl ladS'l-
Dan bersegera-segera, berlari-lari keduanya kepada pintu, dan adalah <segera> lari Yusuf
itu hendak lepas <daripada Zulaikha>, dan <Zulaikha itu> hendak menjabat dia, dan
[dijjabatnya kain Yusuf, dan dihelanya kepadanya dan cariklah baju <Yusuf> daripada pihak
belakang, dan didapat oleh keduanya suami <Zulaikha> pada pintu, maka disucikannya akan
The two of them swiftly raced each other to the door, Joseph running swiftly to escape
from Zulaykha, and Zulaykha in order to seize him. She seized Joseph's garment, and
dragged it towards her, and <Joseph's> garment tore at the back. The two of them
encountered <Zulaykha's> husband at the door, so she tried to pretend innocence.
(25b) qSlat mS jazi'u man arâda bi ahlika sQ'an ills an yusjana aw 'azâbun alim.
Kata <Zulaykha>, "Tiada balas orang yang hendak (berbuat zina) dengan isi rumahmu
melainkan dipenjarakan di dalam penjaraan, atau disyiksa dengan syiksa yang memberi
sangat pedih" .
Zulaykha said, "There is no requittal for one intending to {commit adultery) with one of
your household other than being put in imprisonment, or being punished a very
painful punishment".
(26a) QSla hiya r&wadatnl 'an nafsl
Kata Yusuf, padahalnya melepaskan dirinya, "Ia menuntut daku daripada diriku".
Joseph said, trying to clear himself, "She made a [sexual] demand of me".
(26b) wa shahida shShidun min ahlihl
Dan telah naik syaksi seorang syaksi daripada anak mama Zulaykha, kanak-kanak di dalam
ayunan, maka katanya,
12. Printed mengigigit.
13. An accurate citation from Baydâvï. See Beeston, A.F.L., BaidSvi's Commentary on Sura 12 of the
Qur'an, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1963, p. 15.
14. The printed Qur'anic text reads mukhlasin. 'Abd al-Ra'ûf however has rendered the recitation that
realizes this word as mukhlisin, an active participle.
15. i.e. instead of "chosen" servants.
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999 " " (Qur'an 12:24) 117 She desired him and he desired her
A Witness gave testimony, a child of Zulaykha's uncle, an infant in the cradle, for he
(26c) In kina qamiçuhu qudda min qubulin fa çadaqat wa huwa mina'l-kSdhibln
"Jika ada baju Yusufita carik daripada pihak hadapannya, maka benar <Zulaykha> padahal
adalah <Yusuf> daripada segala orang yang dusta,
"If <Joseph's> garment is torn from the front, then <Zulaykha> is truthful, in which case
Joseph is of those who lie,
(27) wa in k&na qamiçuhu qudda min duburin fa kadhabat wa huwa mina'1-sâdiqln
dan jika ada bajunya carik pihak di belakangnya, maka dusta <Zulaykha>, padahal adalah
<Yusuf> daripada segala orang yang benar.
and if his garment is torn at the back, then Zulaykha has lied, in which case Joseph is of
those who are truthful".
(28a) fa lammS ra'S qamlf ahu qudda min duburin q&la innahu min kaydikunna inna
kaydakunna 'azim
Maka tatkala dilihat oleh suaminya baju Yusuf carik daripada belakang, telah berkata ia,
rumahnya>' "Bahwa sanya itu daripada katamu daya 'Tiada kamu balas jua'. orang Bahwa yang sanya hendak daya kamu, berbuat hai segala <zina perempuan, dengan isi
amat besar".
Then when her husband saw that Joseph's garment was torn at the back, he said, "Indeed
those words of yours 'There is no requittal <for one wishing to commit adultery with one
of the household> ' are part of your deceit. Indeed, your deceit, women, is very great".
Maka dikatanya,
Then he said,
(28b) YQsuf, a'rid 'an hâdhl
"Hai, Yusuf, berpalinglah engkau daripada pekerjaan ini, danjanganlah kausebut-sebut ia,
supaya jangan masyhur. "
"O, Joseph, turn aside from this matter and do not speak of it, so it will not be widely
(28c) wa'staghfiri li dhanbiki innaki kunti mina'1-khï i'lna
Dan minta ampun engkau, hai Zulaykha, bagi dosamu. Bahwasanya adalah engkau daripada
orang yang berdosa. Dan telah masyhurlah khabar.
And you, Zulaykha, ask pardon for your sin. Indeed, you are of those who sin."/W the
news [of it] was widely known. "
An excursus presenting a list of the variant recitations of three traditions of reciters of the
words and phrases ya bushrâ, hayta laka, rabbi ahsana mathwSya, wa'1-fahshS' innahu,
mukhliçin, and wa huwa. Of these, he treats only mukhli; as offering a variant meaning. It is
referred to below. For the remainder, he is concerned only with phonological detail. <16>
16. For a succinct account of the variant traditions of recitation of the Qur'an, see Watt, W.M. & Bell,
Introduction to the Qur'an, Edinburgh : at the University Press, 1970, pp. 47-50.
Archipel 57, Paris, 1999