MUSA (AS) (MOSES)
He is Musa bin Umraan bin Wahib bin Laawy bin Yaakub bin Ishaaq bin Ibrahim (AS). His mother is said to have been known as Afahiyah, she is also Harun’s (Aaron) mother.
Bani Israiyl (The Children of Israelis) lived in Egypt from the time of Yusuf. The Bani Israiyl are the People of Yaakub (AS) who was also known as Israiyl. As we have seen earlier, Yusuf (AS) eventually brought his parents and brothers over from Palestine to Egypt to live with him. The historians say that those who went to live in Egypt at ﬁrst were only eighty-six people, and then multiplied to reach six hundred thousand during Musa’s time.
The Pharaoh who ruled Egypt during the time of Yusuf (AS) was called Rayyan bin Alwalid. Seeing how Yusuf (AS) had saved the country from famine, the King gave him a lot of powers in running the affairs of the country. Therefore Yusuf (AS) enjoyed a high standing and nobility in Egypt, and his people lived very comfortably. After the death of Rayyan, a King by the name of Qaboos bin Mus’ab bin Muawia bin Abi Namir took the powers. This king was atyrant and oppressed the Israelis after the death of Yusuf (AS).
After King Qaboos came his brother, Alwalid bin Mus’ab and was the fourth in the chain of the Pharaohs of Egypt. His wife was Asiya bint Muzaahem and she was a very piety lady who believed in the one God. The King wanted to take her from her father by force, but the father told the King that if he really wanted her then he should pay the dowry and marry her legally.
When the father came to tell his daughter about her marriage to the king, at ﬁrst she refused saying that she did not want to be married to an inﬁdel and a tyrant. But the father told her that if she refused to marry the King then he and all his people would face severe punishment from him. She therefore agreed only because of the threat from the King, and lived with him but was unhappy.
This Pharaoh went to an extent of saying that he was god, when he said to his chiefs: “O Chiefs! No god do I know for you but myself.” He also said: “I am your Lord, Most High.” Commenting that Musa’s God is inferior and low.
The Birth of Musa (AS)
Musa (AS) was born in Egypt during the reign of King Alwalid bin Musaab. This Pharaoh kept his people at different levels; the lowest were the Bani Israiyl. He used to treat them very badly as he considered them as nothing but shepherds who used to live in the desert. He treated them like slaves and used to take their women as and when he wished.
The Bani Israiyl, however, lived in expectation that one day a young fellow would come from within the King’s Palace and save them from the hardships they were in. It is said that the King had a dream that he saw a huge ﬁre coming from Baitil-Maqdis and entering Egypt, and that the fire destroyed everything and everyone except the Bani lsraiyl. So his priests interpreted the dream that a boy would be born among the Bani Israiyl who would then overthrow him from his throne.
The King therefore gave orders that any son born among the Bani lsraiyl must be slain. When this order came out Harun (AS) was already born and his mother was pregnant (carrying Musa) in her ﬁrst few months. She tried to keep away from the public eye and no one knew of her pregnancy, and when she delivered (a boy) nobody knew about it except those in her household. Naturally, no mother could take her son to be slain, so she kept him but was she very scared. God sent her the inspiration to suckle her child, but if she feared for him, she should cast him in the river and he would return to her. It was also a promise from her Lord that he will be a Prophet.
Thus when the mother felt that she could no longer keep it a secret, she put her baby in a chest and threw the chest into the river Nile. She then told her daughter to follow the chest along the riverbank and bring her the news of its whereabouts. The girl followed the chest until she saw it land in front of the Pharaoh’s Palace, and saw it being picked up and taken inside, she then went back to her mother to inform her.
The Pharaoh immediately ordered the boy to be slain, but his wife Asiya who did not have any children said to her husband: “Here is a joy of the eye for me and you, do not slay him. It may be that he will be of use to us, or we may adopt him as a son.”
Alas! That was the boy that Pharaoh was warned about, but with God’s miracle they did not realize it, thus the boy was saved.
When Musa’s mother came to know that his son was not slain, she was at least assured of his safety. Then Musa (AS) as a baby needed to suckle, therefore they brought ladies to try and breast feed him, but he refused to suck from any of them. Then came Musa’s sister and said to them: “I can bring you a nice lady who would nourish him and bring him up for you, and be sincerely attached to him.” In this way he was restored to his mother and got the beneﬁt of his mother’s milk as well as the prestige and the opportunities of being brought up in the royal family, with the best of teachers to teach him Egyptian wisdom. In addition, there was the comfort of his mother. This was God’s promise to his mother that he would return to her.
Musa (AS) lived in the Pharaoh’s Palace as an adopted child and grew up to be a matured youth. He was good at heart, true and loyal to his people, and obedient and just to those among whom he lived. He was granted wisdom and knowledge from God, to be used for the times of conﬂict, which were to come.
One day he entered the City at a time when its people were not watching, which might have been at noon when people were taking a siesta. His entrance to the City, however, was not usually taken to be right, being that he was from the Palace was usually not free to run around on his own. There he found two men ﬁghting, one of his own religion (an Israelite) and the other of his foes (an Egyptian). The Israelite appealed to Musa (AS) to help him against the Egyptian, thus he struck the foe with his ﬁst and unfortunately killed him. His intention, however, was only to hit him slightly and release the Israelite, but not to kill the Egyptian. This was unfortunate in more ways than one. His visit to the City was clandestine; he had taken the side of the weaker and despised party; and he had taken the life of an Egyptian. He was full of regrets and repentance, and he prayed to God, and obtained God’s forgiveness.
The next morning Musa (AS) was going about in a state of fear for what he had done the day before.
Behold, the man who had, the day before, sought his help called aloud for his help (again). Musa (AS) said to him: “Thou art truly, a quarrelsome fellow!” (Al-Qasas (xxviii) 19)
Taking into account that the Egyptian was unjust, and an enemy to the Israelites, Musa wanted to intervene again. The man said to him: “O Musa! Do you want to kill me as you have killed a man yesterday? Your intention is none other than to become a powerful violent man in the land, and not to be one who sets things right!”
Hence it revealed that Musa (AS) was the one who had killed the man the day before. The news spread around very fast, and reached the Palace. Immediately a council was held and the death of Musa (AS) was decreed. There came a man running from the furthest end of the City and warned Musa (AS), and said:
”O Musa! The Chiefs have passed a decree to slay you. So get away from here, for I give you sincere advice.”
Musa (AS) Leaves Egypt and Goes Towards Madyan
The King ordered his guards to hunt Musa (AS) down and bring him in to be judged for the murder. Musa (AS) saw no way out except to ﬂee from Egypt, he therefore got away from there in a state of fear. He prayed: “O my Lord! Save me from people given to wrong-doing.”
He got out of town unprepared for the journey. He had no animal to ride on, no food and no water. He just went towards the desert, not knowing exactly where he was going, he said: “l do hope that my Lord will show me the smooth and straight path.” He walked in the desert alone for eight days barefooted, eating leaves from the desert trees until he arrived a small town of Madyan, the town of Prophet Shuayb (AS), which was between Shaam and Hijaaz.
He arrived at a watering place in Madyan where he found a group of men watering their ﬂocks, and besides them he saw two women who were keeping back their ﬂocks.
He approached the two and said: “What is the matter with you?”
They said: “We can not water our ﬂocks until the shepherds take back their ﬂocks, and our father is a very old man.”
So he watered their ﬂocks for them; he then turned back to the shade to rest and said: “O my Lord! Truly l am in desperate need of any good that You do send me!”
The two women returned home early that day and told their father of this nice young man who had helped them in watering their ﬂocks. The father therefore told one of his daughters to go and fetch this man and bring him home so that he could repay him for the good he had done to his daughters. One of them came (back) to him, walking bashfully, and said: “My father invites you home so that he may reward you for having watered our ﬂocks for us.” Therefore Musa went with her, and as a way of respect, he walked in front, but was also careful not set his eyes on her lest the wind would blow her dress up and show her body. These are all signs of holiness in Musa (AS).
So Musa (AS) came to this old man, sat down and chatted with him, and they became friends at once. The old man is said to be
Prophet Shuayb (AS), but some say he was not, and the Lord is more Knowledgeable. Musa (AS) told the old man his story right from the beginning, and the whole household sat down listening with eagerness. The old man then said: “Do not fear you are in good hands; you have escaped from the unjust people.”
The old man, the head of the household, assured him or hospitality and safety under his roof. Thus Musa (AS) became a guest here, and according to their custom, a guest was entertained for three days. The whole family felt that as the father was old, such a strong young man would be useful to have around permanently to help look after the ﬂocks. One of the daughters therefore, who had given her heart to this man, spoke their unspoken thoughts by saying: “O my dear father! Engage him on wages, he seems to be strong and trusty.”
Musa (AS) had proved himself to be both, and these were the very qualities that a woman most admires in a man.
Here the father said: “I intend to wed you one of my daughters, on condition that you serve me for eight years; but if you complete ten years, it will be grace from you. But l do not intend to place you under difficulty.”
The intention was that his service for that period was sufﬁcient to cover for his dowry. Musa (AS) was glad of the proposal, and said: “Let that be the agreement between me and you, whichever of the two terms I fulﬁl, let there be no ill-will to me. Let God be a witness to what we both of us say.”
Musa (AS) stayed with the old man. As agreed he married one of his daughters and worked for him looking after the ﬂocks. When he fulﬁlled the term agreed, he decided to depart and go home to his people. He took his family and his ﬂocks and went across the desert into the direction of Egypt. The Holy Quraan only mentions his ‘family’ and here we can assume that it was his household in general. As he was travelling with his family, in a cold dark night he saw a ﬁre in the direction of Mount Tur. He said to his family: “Remain here, I see fire; I hope to bring you from there some news, or a burning ember so that we may light a ﬁre to warm ourselves.”
Musa (AS) is Given His First Inspiration
Musa (AS) went in the direction of the fire, towards the valley of Tuwaa. When he got to it he was amazed to see the ﬁre burning in a green bush without the bush burning.
When he came to it he heard a voice: “O Musa! Verily I am your Lord! Therefore (in My presence) take off your shoes.
You are in the sacred valley of Tuwaa. I have chosen you so listen then to the inspiration (sent to you). Verily, I am God there is no god but Me; so serve Me (only), and establish regular prayer for acknowledging My praise. Verily the Hour is coming— My design is to keep it hidden — for every soul to receive its reward by the measure of its endeavor.”
The voice went on to say: “And what is that in your right hand O Musa?”
He said: “It is my rod (walking stick) on it I lean; with it I beat down fodder for my ﬂocks; and in it I ﬁnd other uses.
(God) said: “Throw it, O Musa!”
He threw it, and behold! It turned into a large snake, active in motion; and Musa got terriﬁed and leaped in fear of the snake. (God) said: “Seize it, and fear not. We shall return it at once to its former condition.”
Thus Musa (AS) picked it up and it returned at once to its former condition.
(God) said: “Now put your hand under your armpit, it shall come out white (and shining), without harm (or stain) — as another Sign, -- in order that We may show you (two) of our Greater Signs. Go to Pharaoh, for he has transgressed all bounds.”
Musa (AS) put his hand under his armpit as commanded, and when he took it out it was shining like the full moon.
Musa (AS) said: “O my Lord! Expand me my breast; ease my task for me; and remove my impediment from speech, so they may understand what I say. And give me a Minister from my family, Harun, my brother, add to my strength through him, and make him share my task. That we may celebrate Your praise without limit, and remember You without limit. For You are He that ever regards us.”
In other verses Musa (AS) says to his Lord:
O my Lord! I have slain a man among them, and I fear lest they slay me. *And my brother Harun — he is eloquent in speech than I, so send him with me as a helper, to conﬁrm (and strengthen) me. For I fear that they may accuse me of falsehood.* (Al-Qasas (xxviii) 34-35)
Here Musa (AS) asks his Lord to expand his breast, which is reputed to be the seat of knowledge and affection. He further asks God to help him in his task, and remove the impediment in his speech, which he suffered from. He also asks to have with him for counseling and constant attendance, his dear brother, Harun (AS), for he did not like be alone among the Egyptians.
God granted his wish and he was called upon to go to Egypt on double mission -- to go and preach to Pharaoh and the Egyptians that he was a messenger of God, and to free his own people from the hardships and take them out of Egypt. Thus Musa (AS) and his brother Harun (AS) went to meet the Pharaoh and said to him: “We have been sent by the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds; send with us the children of lsraiyl.”
Here the Pharaoh starts arguing with Musa (AS), firstly on the point of ‘Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds.’ So he says to Musa: “Who cherished you? Did we not bring you up as a child? Did you not grow up among us?” Then he goes on to remind him of having slain an Egyptian, and accuses him of not only being a murderer but also an ungrateful wretch who killed one of the race that had brought him up.
But Musa (AS) tells him: “I did it then, when I was in error. So l ﬂed from you; but my Lord has (since) invested me with judgment (and wisdom) and appointed me as one of the Apostles.”
The Pharaoh said: “And who is the ‘Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds’?”
Musa (AS) said: “The Lord and Cherisher of the heavens and the earth, and all between, if you want to be quite sure.”
The Pharaoh turned to those around him and said: “Do listen to what he says?” Because all along he has been pretending to be godhead.
Musa (AS) went on saying: “Your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers from the beginning! Lord of the East and the West, and all between! If you only had sense!”
The Pharaoh said: “Truly your Apostle who has been sent to you is a real madman! If you put forward any god other than me, I will certainly put you in prison.” He then told his minister Haman: “O Haman! Light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a tall tower, that I may mount up to see this god of Musa what he looks like. But as far as l am concerned, I think Musa is a liar!”
Musa (AS) then said: “Even if I showed you something clear and convincing?”
The Pharaoh answered: “Show it then if you are telling the truth!”
Musa (AS) then threw his trump card. He threw his cane on the ground, and beholds it turned into a huge serpent in front of their own eyes, then picked it up and it returned to its previous state. He then drew his hand and behold it was white to all spectator.
The Pharaoh said to his Chiefs around him: “This is indeed a sorcerer well-versed, his plan is to get you out of your land by his sorcery; then what is it you counsel?”
They said: “Keep him and his brother waiting for a while, and call in all our sorcerers well versed.”
Therefore the sorcerers were brought together on a day appointed, the day of celebration; and the people were told to assemble and watch. When the sorcerers arrived, they said to Pharaoh: “Of course we will have a suitable reward if we win?” The Pharaoh said: “Yes, and more, for you shall in that case be raised to posts nearest to me.”
They thus assembled in front of the Pharaoh and there was a large crowd of people who came to watch. At ﬁrst they disputed one another over their affair, but they kept their talk a secret.
They said: “These two are certainly expert magicians, their object is to drive you out from your land with their magic, and to do away with your most cherished institutions.” When they were ready they asked Musa (AS): “Who will be the ﬁrst to start?” Musa (AS) said to them: “You throw what you wish to throw!”
So they threw their ropes and sticks, and they all turned into large serpents; and said: “By the might of Pharaoh, it is we who will certainly win!” They bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them for they showed a great (feat of) magic.
Musa (AS) at ﬁrst got scared at the sight of this but he stayed calm, then God called to him and said: “Fear not, throw your cane for you will certainly be the winner.”
Musa (AS) then threw his cane, and it straightaway swallowed up all the falsehoods that they faked!
When the sorcerers saw this, they fell down, prostrate in adoration, saying: “We believe in the Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Musa and Harun.”
When the Pharaoh heard this, he shouted in anger: “You believe in him before I give you permission? Surely he is your leader, who has taught you sorcery! But soon you shall know! Be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will cause you all to die on the cross!”
They said: “Only, our desire is that our Lord will forgive us our faults, that we may become foremost among the Believers!” Pharaoh’s order against the sorcerers was drastic enough. However, his Council was not satisﬁed, and wanted to know what would happen to Musa (AS) and the Israelites. So the Chiefs said to Pharaoh: “Will you leave Musa and his people, to spread mischief in the land, and to abandon you and the gods?” The Pharaoh said: “We will slay their male children, and their females we will save alive; and we will have power over them.” Thus Pharaoh after this became even harsher on the Bani Israiyl.
None believed in Musa (AS) except a few of Pharaoh’s people, because of the fear of Pharaoh and his chiefs, lest they would punish them. The majority of Pharaoh’s people refused to believe at the time, but the sorcerers believed and so did Pharaoh’s wife, Asiya.
Musa (AS) said: “O my People! If you do (really) believe in God, then in Him put your trust if you submit (your will to His).”
They said: “In God do we put our trust. Our Lord! Make us not a trial for those who practice oppression; and deliver us by Your Mercy from those who reject (You).”
The people of Pharaoh were punished with years of drought and shortness of crops as a warning. But when good times came, they said, ‘This is due to us;’ and when gripped with calamity, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Musa (AS) and those with him! Behold! In truth the omens of evils are theirs in God’s sight, but most of them did not understand! They said to Musa (AS): “Whatever be the Signs you bring, to work there with your sorcery on us we shall never believe in you.”
There came heavy rains after this and the river (Nile) ﬂooded. Pharaoh’s people went running to Musa (AS) to ask him to pray to his God to save them from this calamity, and that they will believe and let him take the Bani Israiyl with him out of Egypt. So Musa (AS) was happy to hear the good news, he thus prayed for them; but they did not keep their word.
The ﬂooding of the river caused fertile soil to spread into places where there was none before, so the Egyptians planted a lot of grain and such food. They were very happy to see this greenery and said that the ﬂood had brought them good luck and not because of Musa’s prayers. But when the grain was about ready to be reaped, there came locusts and attacked the ﬁelds. The Egyptians went running to Musa (AS) and told him the same story as before. Without hesitation he prayed for them; and again they did not keep their word.
The next stage of their calamity was that they were sent lice that attacked the grain. Again they went running to Musa (AS) with the same story and he prayed for them. Again, they did not believe or let Musa (AS) take the Bani Israiyl. Then came tiny frogs, every time they tried to put food into their mouths, frogs appeared in the food. The same story repeated, but still they refused to believe. Then came the blood. Anytime they tried to drink water it turned into blood; the water in all the wells, rivers and lakes turned to blood. On top of this most of them refused to believe, and said, whatever calamity came to them they would never believe in Musa.”
The nine Clear Signs given to Musa (AS) Were: 1. The Rod (Cane), 2.The Radiant Hand, 3. Years of drought, 4. Shortness of crops, 5. Epidemic among men and beasts, 6. Locusts, 7. Lice, 8. Frogs, 9. The water turning to blood.
Musa (AS) Leaves Egypt with Bani lsraiyl
By inspiration, God told Musa (AS) to travel by night and take with him the Bani Israiyl. Thus he and his people left Egypt at night to go to Shaam, and went towards the Red Sea. In the morning, when the news of their departure got around and reached the Pharaoh, he took his army and pursued after them.
When Pharaoh and his army got to them, he found them along the shores of the Red Sea. Thus they were surrounded; in front there was the sea and behind them were the Pharaoh and his army and on their left and right there were high mountains.
The Bani lsraiyl said to Musa (AS): “We are sure to be overtaken.”
Musa (AS) said: “By no means! My Lord is with me! Soon He will guide me!”
Here Musa (AS) was told by inspiration from God: “Strike the sea with your rod.”
He did this and immediately the sea was divided, and each separate part became like the huge, ﬁrm mass of a mountain. Therefore Musa (AS) and his People passed through to the other side walking on foot. When Pharaoh saw this, at ﬁrst he hesitated but with God’s Will the horse he rode charged ahead, and his army followed behind. When they were in the middle, and all the Israelites had crossed through, the sea returned to its normal state and they were all drowned.
In insolence and spite; at length when overwhelmed with the ﬂood, the Pharaoh said: “I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of lsraiyl believe in. I am of those who submit (To God in Islam).”
God said to him: “Ah now! - But a little while before, you were in rebellion! - And you did mischief (and violence)! This day We shall save your body, that you become a Sign to those who come after you! But verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Signs.”
Hence the Pharaoh’s body was washed to the shore to be seen by his people what had happened to the person they considered to be their god.
The Bani lsraiyl went across the sea safely, and came to the Sinai Peninsular where they came across some people who were devoted entirely to some idols. As some of the Bani lsraiyl due to the inﬂuence of the Egyptians, used to worship idols before, they therefore said to Musa (AS): “O Musa! Make for us a god like the gods they have.”
Musa (AS) was very cross to hear this from his people, and said to them: “You have already forgotten how you have been rescued from Pharaoh’s people, who afflicted you with the worst of penalties, who slew your male children and saved your females. Surely you are people without knowledge. As to these folk, -- the cult they are in is (but) a fragment of a ruin, and vain in the (worship) they practice. Shall I seek for you a god other than the (true) God, when it is God who has endowed you with gifts above the nations?”
The Lord Almighty had ordered Musa (AS) to go to Mount Tur and worship Him for thirty nights then he would be given the Tawraat, the Holy Book. When he completed the period, he was given ten more nights making it forty nights. Before he left, Musa (AS) had given charge to his brother Harun (AS) to act for him amongst his People while he was away. He advised him to do right and not to follow the way of those who did mischief; he also told his People that he would be back in thirty days.
When Musa (AS) came to the place appointed by his Lord and addressed him, he said: “O my Lord! Show Yourself to me that I may look upon You.” Musa (AS) was the only Prophet who had direct conversation with God and used to be known as Kalim - Ullah (the one to whom God spoke). Here Musa (AS) was a bit hasty and greedy in his dealings with his Lord by asking to see Him.
God said: “By no means can you see me (direct); but look upon the mount; if it abide in its place, then you shall see Me.”
When his Lord manifested His glory on the mount, He made it crumble like dust, Musa fell down and fainted. When he recovered his senses he said: “Glory be to You I turn in repentance, and I am the ﬁrst to believe.”
God said: “O Musa! I have chosen you above other men, by this mission I have given you and the words I have spoken to you, take then the revelation that I give you, and be of those who give thanks.”
And the laws were established for him in the Tablets (boards) in all matters, both commanding and explaining all things. It was said to him: “Take and hold these with ﬁrmness, and command your people to hold fast by the best in the precepts. Soon shall I show you the homes of the wicked, -- (how they lie desolate).”
When Musa (AS) was up on the mount, God said: “What made you hasten in advance of your people, O Musa?”
He replied: “Behold, they are close on my footsteps, I hastened to You O my Lord to please You.”
God said: “We have tested your people in your absence, Samiri has led them astray.”
After Musa (AS) left, in his absence, a man called Samiri led his people astray by telling them that Musa (AS) would not come back. He told them that Musa (AS) had gone to meet his Lord and promised to be back after thirty days and that it seemed he was not coming back for them. He told them that he could make for them a god that they could worship. He therefore got them to collect all their jewels, melted them and molded for them an image of a calf for them to worship. It was made in such a way and kept in a place that when wind blew, it gave out a sound like a moo of a cow. They then started worshiping this idol except a few of them who refused to join them.
When Musa (AS) came back to his people and saw this, he was angry and grieved, he said: “This is none but evil that you have done in my absence, why did you make haste to bring on the judgment of your Lord?”
He put down the Tablets, seized his brother by the hair of his head, and dragged him. Harun (AS) said: “O Son of my mother! The people did indeed judge me as invalid, and went near to slaying me! Do not make the enemies rejoice over my misfortune, nor count me amongst the people of sin.”
Musa (AS) then prayed: “O my Lord! Forgive me and my brother! Admit us to Your mercy! For You are the Most Merciful of those who show mercy!”
Musa (AS) then turned to Samiri and said: “What then is your case, O Samiri?”
He replied: “I saw what they did not see, so I took a handful (of dust) from the footprint of the Apostle, and threw it (into the calf). Thus did my soul suggest to me.”
He pretended to have caught sight of an Apostle, construed to be the Angel Jibril; he saw something sacred or supernatural in his footprints. The dust from the footprint of the Apostle became sacred, and his throwing it into the calf’s image made the calf utter a lowing sound.
Musa (AS) said: “You get gone! But your punishment in this life will be that you will say, ‘Touch me not’ and moreover (for a future penalty) you have a promise that will not fail. Now look at your god, of whom you have become a devoted worshipper, we will certainly melt it in a blazing ﬁre and scatter it in the deep sea!”
He and his kind were to become social lepers, the untouchables.
That was their punishment.
Those who took the calf (for worship) will indeed be overwhelmed with anger from their Lord, and with shame in this life. Thus do We recompense those who invent (falsehood). But those who do wrong but repent thereafter and (truly) believe, -- verily Your Lord is thereafter oft forgiving, Most Merciful.
Those who did wrong realized it and thus went to Musa (AS) and asked him to ask the Lord for forgiveness. He said to his people: “O my people! You have indeed wronged yourselves by your worship of the calf, so tum (in repentance) to your Maker, and slay yourselves (the wrong-doers); that will be better for you in the sight of your Maker.”
Thus some of them took heed to this and killed themselves, and God did forgive them.
When the anger of Musa (AS) was appeased, he took up the Tablets in the writing. Thereon was Guidance and Mercy for those who fear their Lord. Musa (AS) was then commanded to pick from his people seventy elders to be taken to Mount Tur so as to ask for forgiveness for those who did wrong. They were taken there and kept at a distance from the place where God spoke to Musa (AS). They were to be silent witnesses, but their faith was not yet complete, and they dared to say to Musa (AS): ”We shall never believe in you until we see God in public.”
They were immediately seized with violent quaking for this. The tremor stopped and instead there came pitch black cloud above the mountain; they could not see anything but could only hear what was going on.
Musa (AS) then prayed: “O my Lord! If it had been Your Will you could have destroyed, long before, both them and me. Would You destroy us for the deeds of the foolish ones among us? This is no more than Your trial, by it You cause whom You wish to stray, and You lead whom You wish into the right path. You are our Protector, so forgive us and give us Your mercy; for You are the Best of those who forgive. And ordain for us that which is good in this life and in the Hereafter for we have turned unto You.”
Musa (AS) was guiltless, but he identified himself with his people, and mediates with God on their behalf. He realised that it was a trial, in which some of his people failed. Such failure was worth of punishment. But he pleaded for mercy for such as erred from weakness and not from deﬁance, and were truly repentant, although all who erred were in their several degrees worthy of punishment.
On top of this they insisted to Musa (AS) that they wanted to see God so that when they went back they could tell the others of the truth in God. He tried to tell them to repent for what they had said, but in vain. Here God was very angry, and with a hit of one lightning they were all dead.
These were among the best of Musa’s people. How could he go back to his people without them? He was afraid of unrest among his people. He therefore prayed to his Lord not to let him go back without the seventy men; thus God brought them back to life. They looked at themselves in amazement and asking each other as to what had happened. Therefore Musa (AS) went back to his people with the seventy men.
Musa (AS) then led his people towards Palestine to a town of llyaa now known as Al-Quds. The country was under the rule of tyrants, and Musa (AS) wanted to attack and enter the city by force. He wanted his people to be prepared to enter the city and said to them: “O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has assigned unto you.”
They said to him; “O Musa! In this land are a people of exceeding strength, never shall we enter it until they leave, and then we shall enter.”
Among their God-fearing men were two on whom God had bestowed His grace; they said: “Assault them at the (proper) Gate when once you are in, victory will be yours; but on God put you trust if you have faith.”
The others said: “O Musa! While they remain there, never shall we be able to enter. You go with your Lord, and you two ﬁght, while we sit here and (watch).”
Musa (AS) said: “O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother, so separate us from this rebellious people!”
The punishment for the rebellion of these stiff-necked people was that they were left to wander distractedly hither and thither through the wilderness for forty years. God, however, did not want to destroy them completely but only to punish them. Thus when the people asked Musa (AS) for water, he prayed for them; and God commanded him to strike the rock with his cane. Here gushed forth therefrom twelve springs for each group; these were the twelve tribes derived from the sons of Yaakub (AS). There was also a cloud above them always to give them shade from the scorching sun of the desert. And sent down to them from heaven manna and quails; and were told to eat the good things provided for them, but they rebelled. They said to Musa (AS): “We can not endure one kind of food (always); so plead your Lord for us to produce for us what the earth grows, -- its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, its garlic, lentils and onions.”
Musa (AS) told them: “You want to exchange the better for the worse? Go down to any town and you shall ﬁnd what you want!” They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of God. This is because they went on rejecting the Signs of God.
They were left to wander aimlessly through the wilderness of the desert for forty years. That generation was not to see the Holy Land. All those that were twenty years old and above were to die in wilderness. Only those who were children were to reach the Promised Land, and so it happened. Musa, his brother Harun (AS) and the elders died during this period. His people, however, got to the Promised Land in the end, but they continued to rebel against God. Their humiliation and misery then became a national disaster.
The Story of the Heifer
There was once a murder case that needed to be solved. These people had a habit that in a case of this kind, everyone tried to clear himself of guilt and lay the blame at the door of the others. If they found a body of a slain man in a ﬁeld and the slayer was not known, they would slaughter a heifer. And the elders of the city next to the slain man’s domicile would wash their hands over the heifer and say that they neither did the deed nor saw it done, thus clearing themselves from the blood-guilt. In this particular case the people went to Musa (AS) for his advice. This story is related in Sura Al-Baqara (ii) verses 67-73.
Musa (AS) told them: “God commands you to sacriﬁce a heifer.” They said: “Are you trying to make a laughing-stock of us?”
He said: “God save me from being an ignorant fool.”
They said: “Beseech on our behalf your Lord to make plain to us what heifer it is!”
He said: “He says the heifer should be neither too old nor too young, but of average age, now do what you are commanded!” They said: “Beseech on our behalf your Lord to make plain to us her colour.”
He said: “He says a fawn-coloured heifer, pure and rich in tone, the admiration of spectators!”
They said: “Beseech on our behalf your Lord to make plain to us what she is, to us all heifers are alike we wish indeed for guidance if God wills.”
He said: “He says a heifer not trained to till the soil or water the ﬁelds; sound and without blemish.”
They said: “Now you have brought the truth.”
Their questions were sarcastic criticisms rather than seeking guidance, although they made the sacriﬁce but not with a clear heart. They found the heifer of these qualities and offered her in sacriﬁce. They were then commanded to strike the dead body with a part of the heifer, possibly the tail, thus God brought the dead to life and showed (them) with the signal of the hand who murdered him.
Musa (AS) and the Prophet Lkhadhir
Here is a story of two Prophets, Musa and Lkhadhir (AS) who existed at the same time but at different places. Musa (AS) was more learned than Lkhadhir (AS) in all respects, however, sometimes the more learned could learn from the less learned by the experience the other one had. God established this so that no one should think of himself that he knows everything and becomes a snob, he should realize that he always lacks something in himself; it is only God who is perfect in everything.
The story is meant to illustrate that although Musa (AS) was learned, but his knowledge did not include everything. Even after he had received his divine mission of Apostleship, his knowledge was not so perfect that it could not receive further addition. Keeping up with new trends of knowledge in life is necessary so as to keep abreast, and this is illustrated in this case. There are some hidden things that only God knows them. These are again illustrated here. For example an apparent loss may be real gain, apparent cruelty may be real mercy, and returning good for evil may really be justice and not generosity.
One day Musa (AS) stood up preaching to his people. When he
ﬁnished, someone asked him: “O Musa! Is there anyone in this whole world who is better than you in knowledge?” Musa (AS) told him that there was no one; was he not the Prophet of Bani Israiyl who had challenged the Pharaoh? Was he not the Prophet with the miraculous cane and the shiny hand? Was he not the only Prophet who talked directly to Lord Almighty?
Here God sent him an inspiration to tell him that the learning and wisdom are like an ocean, and a man can swim in it without end. He was informed that there was someone else who had more knowledge than he did; he knew the inside of things that were not bare to him. Thus Musa (AS) asked his Lord the whereabouts of this man so that he could go and meet him and learn from him. God told him that he would be able to meet him at the junction of the two seas. This is said to be where the two arms of the Red Sea join together, viz. the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez. But also it may mean where the sweet waters of the river meet with the salty waters of the sea. The parable is related in Surat L-Kahf (The Cave) (xvii) verses 60 - 82.
He was instructed to take with him a ﬁsh. The place where he was to meet his mysterious teacher would be indicated by the fact that the ﬁsh would disappear into the water when he got to that place. Therefore Musa (AS) took with him his attendant by the name of Yuushaa (Joshua)* to go on their journey. [*Yuushaa was Musa s attendant, he was with him everywhere he went and was very obedient. He became the Prophet of the Bani Ismiyl after the deaths of both Musa and Harun.]
As instructed they took with them the ﬁsh in a basket, and it is said that the ﬁsh was cooked and was to be their meal for the journey. He told his attendant that he would not give up until he reached the junction of the two seas even if he had to spend years and years travelling.
The two traveled for sometime until they were tired and rested for a short while. Musa (AS) put his head down and fell asleep while Yuushaa was waiting. They forgot about the ﬁsh. Some rain showers came down and the ﬁsh got wet. Miraculously it became alive, jumped out of the basket and swam away into the sea. When Musa (AS) got up they continued with their journey, and after they had covered some distance, Musa (AS) said to his attendant: “Bring us our meal; truly we suffered much fatigue at this stage of our journey.”
Yuushaa said: “I forgot to tell you what happened when we rested by the rock, and none but Satan made me forget. The ﬁsh came out of the basket alive and swam away into the sea in a very strange way.”
Musa (AS) said: “That was what we were seeking after.”
So, following their footprints, they went back to that place where they had rested earlier. When they reached the place, they found a lean tall man who had all the signs of a pious man. This man had been bestowed with the Mercy and had been taught the knowledge from God. He could interpret the inner meaning and mystery of events. He was the Prophet Lkhadhir that Musa (AS) was seeking to meet. So he approached him.
Musa (AS) said to him: “Salaam! (Peace be upon you)”
The man said: “ Salaam! And whom might you be?”
Musa said: “I am Musa bin Umraan.”
The man said: “Musa, the Prophet of Bani Israiyl?”
Musa (AS) said: “And who might have told you about me?”
The man said: “The one (God) who sent you here.”
Therefore Musa (AS) knew that he had found the man he had been looking for. He then made a simple request. He wanted to learn something of the special Knowledge that God had bestowed to Lkhadhir. So he asked the man if he could go with him and learn from him, but Lkhadhir told Musa (AS) that he would not be able to have patience with him. Musa (AS), however, argued with him on a point that how one could judge a man before having seen from experience. He went on telling Lkhadhir that he would find him to be patient, and would obey him with the help of God. Lkhadhir was doubtful, but permitted him to follow him on condition that he asked no questions about anything until he himself mentioned it ﬁrst. Musa (AS) then instructed his attendant to return home while he went with Lkhadhir (AS).
So Lkhadhir and Musa (AS) proceeded with their journey until they came to a place where they had to cross to the other side of the sea. They got into a boat, and when they were in the boat, Lkhadhir (AS) made a hole in it.
Musa (AS) immediately said to him: “Why are you doing this? You want to drown us and those who are in it? Truly this is a strange thing that you have done.”
He said: “Did I not say that you can not have patience with me?”
Musa (AS) said: “Do not rebuke me for forgetting.”
They continued with their journey and then they met a young man whom Lkhadhir (AS) slew. Musa (AS) got shocked to see this act and could not tolerate, so he said: “How come you slay an innocent person! Indeed this is a foul unheard-of act you have done!”
He answered: “Did I not tell you that you can not have patience with me?”
Musa (AS) said: “If ever I ask you about anything after this, do not keep me in your company, as you would have every right of doing so.”
Then they proceeded until when they came to a town, where they asked them for food, but the inhabitants there refused to give them hospitality. These people broke the universal eastern rule of hospitality to strangers, where a stranger would have expected to receive the hospitality without asking for it. Then they found a wall on the point of falling down, so they repaired it.
Musa (AS) said: “If you had wished, surely you could have demanded payment for the job done! At least we could have earned some money to buy food.”
He answered him: “This is where we part, now I will tell you the interpretation of those things over which you were unable to hold patience. As for the boat, it belonged to certain poor men who plied on the water for their living and I wished to render it unserviceable. There was an unjust king who seized every boat he could get so by doing this it would be saved, as it would be useless. As for the youth, his parents were people of faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by stubborn rebellion and ingratitude to God and man. So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange a son better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection. As for the wall, it belonged to two youths, orphans, in the town; there was, beneath it, a buried treasure, to which they were entitled. Their father had been a righteous man so your Lord desired that they should attain their age of full strength and get out their treasure — a mercy and favour from your Lord. I did not do this out of my own accord. Such is the interpretation of those things over which you were unable to hold patience.”
During the forty years of wandering in the desert as we have seen earlier in the chapter, Harun (AS) died and was buried in the desert therein. Two years later Musa (AS) died and was buried near Masjidl-Aqsaa in Palestine.
Reference: The Twenty five Prophets (The Parable of the Apostles Mentioned in the Holy Quraan)", by Nassir ibn Issa ibn Said Al-Kindy. (p 94-121).