I'm reading Sura 12, the narrative on Joseph's life, and I don't think I quite understand the historical context for why the women at the banquet cut their hands with a knife when they saw how handsome Joseph was? Was that a cultural custom/expression?

I also don't understand why Potiphar's wife held the banquet in the first place, and what the function/purpose of it was?

Can someone help clarify this scene for me?


2 Answers 2


The story is well described in the Quran: However some translations make it less obvious than others.

12:31 Thereupon, when she heard of their malicious talk, she sent for them, and prepared for them a sumptuous repast, and handed each of them a knife and said [to Joseph]: "Come out and show thyself to them!" And when the women saw him, they were greatly amazed at his beauty, and [so flustered were they that] they cut their hands [with their knives], exclaiming, "God save us! This is no mortal man! This is nought but a noble angel!"

They spoke of her in a malicious and pityful way for attempting to seduce her own servant. When she knew about it she invited them and organised the banquet for them to see the reason why she tried to seduce him.

  • 1
    Okay! Great! I understand the banquet part now -- so they can see for themselves how tempting he is. But I'm still a bit lost about the knives/cutting. Is it like "pinch me if this is real" sort of thing or is it that they were so distracted by his beauty that they weren't paying attention to what/how they were eating with their knives? Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 0:29
  • it can be an allegory that they "hurt" themselves exalting to his beauty. Many explain it as you said: they were exalting to his beauty and hurt themselves with their knife. Note that the Quran does precise that the woman handed to them knives.
    – user19208
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 0:37
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    Thank you!! I think you're right because my translation did not include those details that you had! Thanks for clarifying that for me! Makes much more sense now! Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 0:39
  • The historical film series "Prophet Joseph", gives you a good inside into the whole story. The scene about the banqueting you can find in part 17. previous.ifilmtv.com/English/Serie/197/#.V-zfQSTo5QI
    – Noor
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 9:31

Yes zulekha fall in love with him by seeing nabi yosuf beauty so she organized a banquet to show that anybody can fall in love with his beauty. Its not my mistake so its Every yhing Allah planned. After seeing yosuf all women are like lost in his beauty and cut their hand. All woman takes the zulekha side ya yosuf is too handsome.

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