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PROPHET MUSA (a)
The Birth and Early Life of Musa
The children of Israil came to Egypt during the days of Yusuf and flourished
with wealth and large progenies. Their growth in wealth and power became a
threat to the rulers of Egypt. The adviser of the pharaohs devised several ways
to reduce this threat. This brought great hardship to the children of Israil.
Around the time of the birth of Musa there were rumors that a great messiah
will be bom t ' hat year amongst these people and that he will challenge the
might of the Pharaoh and liberate the children of Israil. The Pharaoh ordered all
male babies bom to these people to be killed so that the messiah may never
challenge his power. This was extremely painful for the parents of many
ill-fated infants that were slain as a result of this cruel decree.
Allah has His Divine Wisdom and no body can avert what He has planned or
Musa was born in the house of Imran, in the clan of Lavi (one of the twelve
clans of Banu Israil). Fearful of the destiny of her child at the hands of the
rulers of the time, his mother laid him in a basket and set on the waters of
the mighty Nile.
The basket drifted towards the gardens surrounding the palace of the Pharaoh.
The maids in attendance to queen retrieved the basket and saw a beautiful baby
in it. The queen who had no child of her own developed immediate love for the
baby. She adopted him as her son. He was named Musa, which, in the old
Egyptian language meant "pulled out of water. "
Allah has His own ways of protecting and providing for His chosen servants.
The hungry baby needed to be fed but he did not accept any of the fostered
mothers brought in. The sister of Musa had followed the basket to the palace.
She offered to bring one of the new mothers whose baby had recently been
slain. She did not reveal her or her mother's association with the baby. The
queen agreed, as she had no other choice. When the mother of Musa was presented
in the palace as one who had been deprived of her baby, Musa responded
immediately to the nursing. The queen hired her to nurse the baby in the palace and
at her own home as needed. The infant prophet, a servant of Allah was thus
returned to his own mother and household for care and nurture.
Musa as a teenager in the palace of Pharaoh
The Pharaoh saw the intellectual brilliance in this youth and appointed his
top astrologers, magicians, scribes and priests to educate Musa in all aspects
of the royal faculties. He must have intended to appoint Musa as his special
advisor, or high priest, or even his successor. However, this could also be
the Will of Allah to have Musa gain all the secrets of the Pharaoh that made
him so powerful.
Musa in the service of Sholayb
Musa was naturally inclined to help his people. One day, while trying to
free an Israilite in a scuffle with an Egyptian, Musa killed the Egyptian with
one blow. This incidence reached the elite circle of the ruling class who
branded Musa as a friend of the wretched Israilites whom the Egyptians hated from
the core of their hearts. They passed a unanimous resolution to have a public
trial of Musa to get him killed for his deed against an Egyptian. A noble
person in the clan of the Pharaoh (called Momine Ale-Fir'on in Qur'an) informed
Musa of the plot and he helped him escape into the desert.
The desert journey was arduous. Musa reached the city of Midyan. He came to
rest at a well where several shepherds were busy watering their herds. He saw
that there were two young and beautiful women waiting for their turn to serve
their herd. The men took their turns assertively while the ladies waited
patiently. Musa could not remain passive at the sight. He offered to help the
young women by pulling the water from the well. They told him that their
father was old and since he was unable to do this work, they had no choice but to
come out to serve their herd. Sometimes it could be quite late in the evening
when they returned to their home.
Musa helped them water their herd expeditiously, and they returned home
early. Their father enquired on their unusual early return. They told him of the
incidence at the well. Sho'ayb recognized the deed to be that of a man of
Allah and sent one of his daughters to bring him home. Musa had nowhere else to
go, so he accompanied the lady to her home. Sho'ayb asked Musa the details of
his travel. The story of Musa fascinated all in the audience. Sho'ayb
offered Musa to stay with him, and married one of his daughters to him. He lived
in the clan for about ten years and led an extemely simple life in contrast to
the comforts of the royal Egyptian palace. He tended the sheep and goats of
the family and spent time in the solitude of the desert. Here he contemplated
and reflected on his past and present experiences. He had discusssions with
his father-in-law, Sho'ayb which enriched him spiritually. He reflected over
the plight of his people in Egypt and made a firm resolve to free them from the
servitude of the Egyptians.
The Prophethood of Musa and his return to Egypt
After living ten years in Midyan, Musa left for Egypt, accompanied by his
family. On their way, one night, they pitched their tents near Mount Sinai. It
was cold and they needed fire for warmth. He saw what looked like a fire
higher up on the mountain. Musa told the family to stay in the tents while he
would go up the mountain to bring the fire for their comfort.
When he arrived at the site, instead of fire, he noticed a brilliant light
emanating from a bush. Musa approached the bush cautiously when he heard a
voice calling him to take off his shoes as he was in the presence of his Creator,
and that he was standing on the sanctified terrain. It was here that Allah
bestowed upon Musa the gifts of miracles to be used while confronting the mighty
Pharaoh. He was given a brilliant light in his hand (Yadebaiza), and a staff
with miraculous powers. Allah told him that He would give him other great
signs to help accomplish His mission. Musa was then instructed to proceed to
Musa said that he was afraid of getting arrested on a previous murder charge,
and also because he could not speak fluently due to his stuttering. He
prayed to Allah to grant him fluency of speech, and have his brother Harun help him
and be a deputy to him in all his tasks ahead. Allah granted Musa his
requests and told him that he could take his brother along with him, and told him to
be gentle in his language and be patient in all his dealings.
Musa was overwhelmed at the experience. The brilliant light emanating from
the bush disappeared. For his own satisfaction, Musa verified the miracles of
Yade-baiza and conversion of his staff into a serpent. He knew that it was
not a dream, and he indeed was in the presence of The Divine One.
Musa came down from the mountain, narrated his experience to his wife, who
acknowledged him to be the prophet of Allah and gave him the reassurance and
comfort he needed. They made their way to Egypt, and to the house of Imran, his
father. He took Harun aside and told him of his appointment as a prophet and
his vice-regent. Harun was pleased and assured to help his brother in' the task
that lay ahead.
The confrontation with the Pharaoh
Musa and Harun arrived in the court of the Pharaoh and told him that his
claim of godhood was false, for there is but one God who created the king and the
subject. He controls all that is in this world and beyond. The only reason
for his return to Egypt was to obtain the release of his people from their
bondage in Egypt.
The Pharaoh was not pleased with the dialogue, and said that Musa was a
fugitive of their law and was to be hanged for the crime of killing an Egyptian.
Musa said that the final justice was in the hands of Allah and that the Pharaoh
himself was committing the worst crime in defying his own Creator by forcing
his false godhood over his subjects. Musa produced the miracle of Yadebaiza,
and showed how, with the Will of Allah, his hand could produce blinding
brilliance. The Pharaoh laughed and said that was nothing but an act of magic. To
impress Musa, his magicians threw strings on the floor which turned into
snakes. Musa threw his staff to the floor. It became a serpent and devoured all
the wriggling snakes.
Whereas the magic of the Pharaoh was beaten, he declined to acknowledge the
superiority of Allah over him. As he defiantly refused to allow Bani Israel to
leave Egypt, Musa had to unleash the punishment of Allah over him and his
people. These punishments came in the form of unseasonable floods that demolished
their dwellings, swarms of locust that destroyed the crop, pestilence of lice
that made life miserable, toads that croaked and sprang everywhere, and the
turning of all dirking water into blood. Each time the Pharaoh was subjected to
humiliation, his defiance became pervasive. Finally, when the first bom sons
of all Egyptians started to die from no apparent cause, including the beloved
son of the Pharaoh, he finally gave up his defiance and most reluctantly
agreed Bani Israel to leave Egypt.
The Exodus of Bani Israel from Egypt
Musa issued specific instructions for his people to collect all their
belongings and leave their homes before sun rise, to gather outside the city
periphery. The remains of Yusuf had already been collected in a coffin box, which was
hauled out of the city, with caution and respect. As the people had little
time to cook their normal food early in the morning, they could only eat the
bread baked from rapidly kneaded dough. Musa led his people out of the city and
headed straight for the shores of Red Sea. When the day dawned and the
Egyptians saw their city to be devoid of the work force they reported this to the
Pharaoh. He could not believe that Musa could achieve this mobilization so
fast. His defiance resurged into a mad rage. He mounted his fastest chariot
and, in the company of his swiftest horsemen, chased Musa and his people, and
caught up with them at the Red Sea.
Miracles of Musa during Exodus
Musa and his people were sandwiched between the army of the Pharaoh and the
Red Sea. The Pharaoh laughed at the situation, and said that the God of Musa
was not a very clever strategist, and clearly they were at his mercy. He
orderd them to return or be killed on the spot. The faith of Bani Israil wavered,
and they started to blame Musa for their plight. Musa prayed for help from
Allah and hit the waters of Red Sea which created a dry passage between two
walls of water. He ordered his people to quickly cross over to the other side.
When they were half way down the path, the Pharaoh descended down the same
path, in hot pursuit of the fugitives. However, man's designs are no match to
that of Allah. As soon as the last of the fugitives had crossed over to the
other side, the waters returned to fill the gap, and drowned the defiant Pharaoh,
his army, his swift chariot and all their fast horses. Musa prayed to Allah
and thanked Him for His Divine Assistance to him and his people.
Arrival at Mount Sinai
Musa led the large caravan through the hot desert of Sinai and arrived at the
foot hills of Mount Sinai. The caravan was extremely short of water. They
started to moan and blame Musa for having dragged them from the comfort of
their homes into the desert with no water or shelter. Having been exposed to the
style of idol worship under Egyptian subjugation for generations, they irked
to make idols for worship in the old fasion. Musa scolded them on their absurd
desire. He prayed to Allah for help and hit a nearby rock with his staff. A
spring of sparkling water gushed out from it. They all drank from the spring
and washed themselves and their clothing with the plentiful water.
Musa told his people that he was going up the mountain for a few days and
Harun would act as his deputy in his absence. They should consider Harun to be
their overlord just as he himself was to them, and that they should be obedient
to him just as they were to Musa himself. Having given them these
instructions, he left for the heights of Mount Sinai.
Revelation of Torah to Musa
Musa returned to the spot where he had first received his miracles from
Allah. He took off his shoes as before and went down into subjugation to The
Creator and The Sustainer of the universe. He prayed to Allah for His guidance.
He was given the Ten Commandments at this session. Before leaving, he begged
Allah to be revealed to him. Allah told him that it would not be possible for
him to set his eye on His Divine Radiance. He would shower just a little of
this over the mighty mountain so that he may derive his satisfaction. No
sooner the communication had ended than a blinding pure white radiance struck the
mighty mountain and instantaneously turned it into ashes. Musa lost
consciousness from the roar that accompanied the lightening. When he recovered, he went down in total submission and asked forgiveness of Allah.
Having thus received the Torah for his people, Musa came down from the
mountain and headed for the camp.
Samry and the Golden Bull
In the absence of Musa from the camp, the Israilites defied Harun. Misguided
by Samry, a pagan, they collected their golden jewelery and quickly wrought a
golden colt from it, as they had done for the temples of the Pharaoh for
years. They said that the God of Musa was no where to be seen, and Musa had
abandoned them in the wilderness. They started worshipping the Samry's colt,
danced around it in sinful pursuits, and indulged in immoral acts.
When Musa arrived at the camp, he was infuriated to see his people in clear
defiance of his specific orders. He was very angry with his brother for
letting them indulge in blatent kufr. Harun told him that they would not listen to
him. Musa admonished Samry and broke and burnt his golden colt. As a
punishment, the sinning people were ordained to kill one another for atonement of
Banu Israil demand to see God of Musa
After the commotion settled, the elders in the camp insisted upon meeting
with God. Musa told them that no one could see Allah but they were adament. So
Musa took seventy selected elders to Mount Sinai. They were not even close to
the mountain when a thundering lightening struck in their path. The entire
groupof insolent people fell to their knees. Musa begged Allah for their
forgiveness, and brought them back to the camp. Here they stayed for many days and
Musa and his brother Harun educated the people on the Oneness of Allah, and
taught them the method of worship as prescribed in the Torah. They sanctified
one tent and dedicated it for worship only. They kept this congregational
tent with them for worship until they came back to the land of Kin'an where they
built the first permanent Bait-ul-Muqaddas (the Holy House).
The Gift of Mann-o-Salwa
The caravan had exhausted their food supply in the desert and started
grumbling. They again blamed Musa for all their difficulties. In his prayers, Musa
begged Allah for their relief. Allah sent the gift of Mann-o-Salwa (the
heavenly meals consisting of meat and sweets) to feed them. They were happy for a
short time but started grumbling about the monotonous diet. Now they wanted
the traditional diet of lentils garnished with garlic etc. Musa admonished
them for their thanklessness. By this time they had reached Palestine, on the
border of Kin'an, where they erected their tents in the desert.
The Promised Land
Kin'an was the land that Allah had promised Musa at the end of their journey,
the land of their forefathers. They could see the land from their high perch
in the desert. Musa sent Yusha' bin Nun to gather information. It was here
that Maryam, the sister of Musa passed away.
Yusha' bin Nun came back and reported that the valley was very fertile with
fruit groves and vineyards. The people were very tall and strong. Banu Israil
refused to go down to claim the territory and face a strong people in combat.
Musa became very disheartened at the defiance and insolence of the people and
prayed to Allah for guidance. Allah ordered Musa to take them back to the
desert where they would roam in wretchedness for forty years and they would
never see the promised land. Hearing this, they agreed to go down to the valley.
However Musa advised them to refrain from doing so since Allah had already
decreed their renewed toils in the desert. They would not listen, and a large
group from amongst them went up the hills. They were attacked by the
inhabitants of the valley and many of them were killed in their attempt to gain control
of the valley. They had no recourse but to return to the desert and
aimlessly roam there.
Musa took his people and traveled south. When he arrived at Mount Hoor,
Harun, his brother passed away. Musa continued to lead his people for the
duration of this suffering.
Yusha' bin Nun assisted Musa in the tasks that were previously carried out by
Fort, Years in the Desert
Musa continued the journeys in the desert for forty years as ordained.
During this time many of the older folks, who had originated in Egypt, died, and a
new generation of Banu Israil was raised who believed in Allah and followed
orders inscribed in the Torah. They were now eager to carry out the biddings of
Allah and ' seek their destiny in the land of Kin'an, the land of their
Return to the Promised Land
Musa led them north once again and camped on the opposite banks of River
Jordan. He showed them the promised land which their parents had rejected forty
years earlier. He told them that he would not be accompanying them beyond the
banks of the river. He left them in the camp in the care of Yusha' bir,- Nun
and went up the hill for his prayers.
The Death of Musa
Musa went up the mountain but never came back. He died there, and nobody
found him or his grave. Musa is known as, Moses in the Torah.
References: His story has been told in several forms and contexts in al
Qur'an. The relevant Suras are as follows: Baqarah, Alelmran, Nisaa'. Maidah,
Anam'Anjaal, Yunus, @ud, Raad, Ibrahim, Nahl, Bani Israil, Kahaf, Maryam, Taha, Anmbiya'. Momin, Furqan, Shu'ra' ' Qasas, A'nkaboot, Sajdah, Ahzab, Sa Yfat, Haa meem Sajdah, Dukhan, Mujadelah, Jathiyah, Zariyat, Qamar, Tahreem, Ha'qah, Muzammil, Nazat, Fajar.
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