( 31 ) So when she heard of their scheming, she sent for them and prepared for them a banquet and gave each one of them a knife and said [to Joseph], “Come out before them.” And when they saw him, they greatly admired him and cut their hands and said, “Perfect is Allah! This is not a man; this is none but a noble angel.”
( 32 ) She said, “That is the one about whom you blamed me. And I certainly sought to seduce him, but he firmly refused; and if he will not do what I order him, he will surely be imprisoned and will be of those debased.”
( 33 ) He said, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant.”
( 34 ) So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
( 35 ) Then it appeared to them after they had seen the signs that al-‘Azeez should surely imprison him for a time.
( 36 ) And there entered the prison with him two young men. One of them said, “Indeed, I have seen myself [in a dream] pressing wine.” The other said, “Indeed, I have seen myself carrying upon my head [some] bread, from which the birds were eating. Inform us of its interpretation; indeed, we see you to be of those who do good.”
( 37 ) He said, “You will not receive food that is provided to you except that I will inform you of its interpretation before it comes to you. That is from what my Lord has taught me. Indeed, I have left the religion of a people who do not believe in Allah, and they, in the Hereafter, are disbelievers.
( 38 ) And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And it was not for us to associate anything with Allah. That is from the favor of Allah upon us and upon the people, but most of the people are not grateful.
( 39 ) O [my] two companions of prison, are separate lords better or Allah, the One, the Prevailing?
( 40 ) You worship not besides Him except [mere] names you have named them, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. Legislation is not but for Allah. He has commanded that you worship not except Him. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.
( 41 ) O two companions of prison, as for one of you, he will give drink to his master of wine; but as for the other, he will be crucified, and the birds will eat from his head. The matter has been decreed about which you both inquire.”
( 42 ) And he said to the one whom he knew would go free, “Mention me before your master.” But Satan made him forget the mention [to] his master, and Joseph remained in prison several years.
( 43 ) And [subsequently] the king said, “Indeed, I have seen [in a dream] seven fat cows being eaten by seven [that were] lean, and seven green spikes [of grain] and others [that were] dry. O eminent ones, explain to me my vision, if you should interpret visions.”
( 23 ) And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him. She closed the doors and said, “Come, you.” He said, “[I seek] the refuge of Allah. Indeed, he is my master, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed.”
( 24 ) And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.
( 25 ) And they both raced to the door, and she tore his shirt from the back, and they found her husband at the door. She said, “What is the recompense of one who intended evil for your wife but that he be imprisoned or a painful punishment?”
( 26 ) [Joseph] said, “It was she who sought to seduce me.” And a witness from her family testified. “If his shirt is torn from the front, then she has told the truth, and he is of the liars.
( 27 ) But if his shirt is torn from the back, then she has lied, and he is of the truthful.”
( 28 ) So when her husband saw his shirt torn from the back, he said, “Indeed, it is of the women’s plan. Indeed, your plan is great.
( 29 ) Joseph, ignore this. And, [my wife], ask forgiveness for your sin. Indeed, you were of the sinful.”
( 30 ) And women in the city said, “The wife of al-‘Azeez is seeking to seduce her slave boy; he has impassioned her with love. Indeed, we see her [to be] in clear error.”
Confession: I have never read Proust. Not one word, let alone the 4,300 of them in the English translation of his seven-volume masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past).
On the occasion of the French author’s 145th birthday, LitHub invited six authors to sing his praises, and explain why his work remains essential reading. Siri Hustvedt, Edmund White, André Aciman, Francine Prose, Aleksandar Hemon, and Daniel Mendelsohn all weighed in. Mendelsohn had a particularly modern take on the value of reading Proust’s densely written, heavily detailed, slowly unfolding opus:
Recently I was traveling on a train next to a young man—a recent college graduate, I guessed—who was reading a hugely fat Victorian novel. Since I teach literature, this made me happy. But as I watched him I noticed that roughly every 90 seconds he’d fish out his iPhone to check his text messages. After a…
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