When he reached maturity, We gave him judgement and knowledge: this is how We reward the people of excellence (12:22).
‘Maturity’ begins at puberty and reaches completion between the ages of 30 and 40. Sayyiduna Yusuf had reached a point at which he was fit to receive expansive knowledge and wisdom. The word translated as judgement (hukm) here could signify prophethood, wisdom or leadership.
Allah in His wisdom does not give people knowledge in one go, but rather He teaches people gradually: it is Allah who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing (16:78).
Each person has different capabilities, but age plays an important role and many realities are only unveiled to people as they get older. For this reason, we have been commanded to respect our elders and to consult people of age and experience.
Most of the Prophets received revelation after reaching the age of forty, although Yusuf received prophethood at an early age and Allah kept increasing his knowledge and wisdom as he grew older.
This is how Allah treats those who show excellence (ihsan) in their transaction with Him – the more they do this, the more He gifts them with knowledge. Allah asks: Shall the reward of good be anything but good?” (55:60). But what is the small amount of our human goodness compared to His? His goodness is far greater, far more beautiful and far more expansive.
A person may be illiterate, but due to his excellent transaction with Allah, he is gifted with knowledge, is able to grasp certain realities and has a deeper understanding than many people who study for years. He possesses a deep consciousness and fear of Allah and as it has been said, “the essence of wisdom is fear of Allah”.
This is how We reward the people of excellence.
So how fortunate are the people of excellence! May Allah make us among them!
Learning from Surah Yusuf with Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)