In Yusuf Ali's translation, we have a situation where the prophet Joseph engages in a deception by secretly placing a drinking cup inside his brother's bag as the brothers were departing, and then announces that they are thieves.

012.070 At length when he had furnished them forth with provisions (suitable) for them, he put the drinking cup into his brother's saddle-bag. Then shouted out a crier: "O ye (in) the caravan! behold! ye are thieves, without doubt!"
لَ‍‍مَّ‍‍ا‌ جَهَّزَهُمْ بِجَهَا‌زِهِمْ جَعَلَ ‌ال‍‍سِّ‍‍‍‍قَ‍‍ايَةَ فِي ‌‍رَحْلِ ‌أَ‍خِ‍‍‍ي‍‍هِ ثُ‍‍مّ‌َ ‌أَ‌ذَّنَ مُؤَ‌ذِّنٌ ‌أَيَّتُهَا‌ ‌الْع‍‍ِ‍ي‍‍‍رُ‌إِنَّ‍‍كُمْ لَسَا‌رِ‍‍قُ‍‍ونَ

Does the message of this verse imply that in some cases, the ends justify the means, and that deception is permissible when used against deceivers? In this case Joseph's brothers had perpetrated a massive deception against their father Jacob when they threw Joseph into the well in his boyhood and told their father he was eaten by a wolf.

However, these kinds of permissible deceptions can present a huge moral hazard in implementation in sharia.

  • Well the brothers were thieves, as they had stolen Joseph from his father and sold him as a slave. Benjamin knew about Joseph (12:69) and had asked Joseph to keep him and not let him return with the brothers, however Joseph could not forcibly take him from his brothers without a reason (12:76) and so he acted on this plan and the brothers had already consented to give the one who had the cup (12:75). – UmH Jul 4 '20 at 9:04

The intention of this so-called deception is to get at the truth. This is very different from a deception whose intention is to deceive, to falsify, to mislead whether it is one person, a group or a whole nation.

Thus, whilst you say that the Joseph 'engages in a deception'. By the above, this is not correct, and in a way, is misleading itself. His aim here is to get at the truth. This distinction is important.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.