Yaqoub’s love for his son is one of the most touching aspects of the Quranic narrative. When he was separated from Yusuf, the tears of grief took his very sight away. After decades of sorrow and longing, his sons found Yusuf in Egypt. Yusuf sent them back with a shirt of his to cure his father’s blindness. Yaqoub detected the scent of his beloved son from miles away as the caravan approached:
وَلَمَّا فَصَلَتِ الْعِيرُ قَالَ أَبُوهُمْ إِنِّي لَأَجِدُ رِيحَ يُوسُفَ
“And as soon as the caravan was on its way, their father said: “Indeed, I find the scent of Yusuf in the air…””
Yaqoub interestingly says: أَجِدُ, I find the scent of Yusuf, but who says that they find the smell of something? You’d expect him to say “I smell the scent,” or “I detect the scent,” but word “find” is used here to represent a deeper emotional meaning.
The opposite of finding something is losing something, just as Yaqoub lost Yusuf. Moreover, to find something you must be searching for it.
The word أَجِدُ suggests that, after all those years, Yaqoub was still searching and longing for his son. He never gave up his hope in Allah, nor the love of his son. So when the caravan finally set out, he found the scent of Yusuf that he had been searching for, as opposed to smelling it. The subtle detail of Quranic word choice reveals such intricate beauty.
Taken from the Bayyinah Blog with permission
We retain information better when we can forge connections with our existing bank of knowledge. Therefore every time you learn a new word try and recall all the other contexts in which that word has been used.
I did this with my 7 year old son recently. He learnt the Arabic word ‘Sadr’ chest, he already knew the dua of Musa (A.S) before he went to meet the Pharoah, where the word ‘Sadri’ my chest is used. So I retold the story to him in a manner which is appealing to 7 year old boys, reinforcing words like ‘imagine’ which help to create emotional connections by generating feelings within the listener. Then I told him how Allah mentions this word ‘Sadr’ a few times in the Qur’an, in various formats, when He says ‘He Knows what is in our chests’, ‘He is well acquainted with what our chests conceal’ etc. Then we looked at an anatomy chart and pointed out sadr, later that week we did push ups that work… ‘the chest’ all the while calling it ‘sadr’. Lo and behold, he learnt the Arabic word for chest.
This an oversimplified overview of how to make connections you can go much deeper than that. In the masjid I teach at, I have found linking my teaching material with the school curriculum a very effective approach.