In the beginning of Surah Yusuf, Allah ta’ala shares with us the private conversation between a father and son:
إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ
(Remember) when Yusuf (Joseph) said to his father: “O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon – I saw them prostrating themselves to me.” (12:4)
As usual, the gem is not captured in the English translation.
Yusuf alayhi salaam describes the stars, sun and moon prostrating to him, by using the word Saajideen. Saajideen is classified as a “Jam’ mudakkar saalim”, which means a sound masculine plural and it is only used for beings with free will such as humans and jinn.
Allah azza wa jal describes a creation that has no free will as if it has free will. We find this in other ayaat in the Qur’an as well:
In surah Inshiqaaq, Allah ta’ala describes the sky:
وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ
“And listens to and obeys its Lord.” (84:2)
Athinat is from uthun which means ear, the sky will listen to Allah ta’ala.
In surah Ahzaab, Allah azza wa jal describes:
إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الْأَمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأَبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا وَحَمَلَهَا الْإِنسَانُ ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
Truly, We did offer the trust to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e. afraid of Allah’s Torment). But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results). (33:72)
The heavens, earth and mountains did not want to be given the free choice to believe or disbelieve so man was given the trust. Allah ta’ala gave us reasoning to choose what benefits us. He ta’ala gave us the choice to submit, and only the person who has true understanding will choose to obey Allah ta’ala.
So when those 11 stars, the sun and moon were commanded to prostrate themselves to Yusuf (as) in the dream, Allah ta’ala uses the form used for humans to show the reasoning and choice behind their prostration.
How many humans have the choice to prostrate to Allah and don’t do it? It only took one sajdah to remove Iblis from Jannah.
-Taken from Dr. Reda Bedeir, Tafseer Surah Yusuf.