In the first article of a series, Shaykh Ahmad El Azhary explores the Lessons from the Live of the Prophets in the Quran. He unlocks their aim, which is to direct us towards Allah Almighty and the Day of Judgement.
The stories of the Quran are one of the very essential sciences, relevant to the core of the Quran. The science of the stories of the Quran lead to the essential central sciences: knowing God, the Day of Judgment, and knowing the path that leads to God.
Studying the stories of the Quran leads to knowing the objectives of the Quran.
The stories of the Quran are very unique. They are didactic and teach us something. The incidents are not invented. The Quranic stories are real stories of real individuals.
Out of the twenty-five Prophets who have been named in the Quran, not every Prophet’s story has been related. We appreciate that there is wisdom in these stories being in The Quran.
All Prophets and Messengers are good examples for us. Why specifically these individuals? There must have been something very precious, important and relevant that can be applied throughout time and space in these Quranic stories.
A number of Quranic stories are very long. Others are concise. Some are mentioned once. Others more than once.
The most frequently mentioned individual in the Quran is Musa (peace be upon him). The scholars observe this as a sign of the truthfulness of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). We have a book that is telling us more about someone other than the recipient of the book himself (Allah bless him and give him peace).
Why is it that Musa (peace be upon him) is so frequently mentioned in the Quran? One of the observations is that his life is full of surprises and suffering. It is a very rich life, full of experience.
From the house of his mother to the house of Pharaoh. Being out in the desert toward the land of Madian. Being with Shu‘aib (peace be upon him). Getting married to the daughter of Shu‘aib. Spending time in the land of Madian. Going back to Egypt.
Twists and Turns
Stopping briefly to receive the revelation and to empower him to go back to face Pharaoh. His meetings with Pharaoh. Going through the sea to the land of Sinai. Crossing the sea leading Bani Israel. Various adventures with Bani Israel in the land of diaspora. The meeting with God. His reception of the tablet and coming back to Bani Israel. His encounter with his brother.
It is a life that is full of surprises, suffering. A life where we see qualities of leadership, patience and complete dependence and trust in God. Trust which his mother instilled in him (peace be upon him).
Musa (peace be upon him) is a savior in a great sense. He has saved the whole community from persecution.
The Early Days
Sura Taha and Sura al-Qasas tell of the early days of Musa (peace be upon him) – born into a society completely enslaved by the Pharaoh. We understand that Musa (peace be upon him) and Bani Israel were the remnants of the twelve children of Ya‘qub who came to Egypt and settled at the time of Yusuf (peace be upon him).
The Quran tells us at the very onset of Sura Al-Qasas:
إِنَّ فِرۡعَوۡنَ عَلَا فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهۡلَهَا شِیَعا یَسۡتَضۡعِفُ طَاۤىِٕفَة مِّنۡهُمۡ یُذَبِّحُ أَبۡنَاۤءَهُمۡ وَیَسۡتَحۡیِۦ نِسَاۤءَهُمۡۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُفۡسِدِینَ
“Verily Pharaoh waxed high and haughty in the land, and made its folk contending factions, abasing a people of them, slaying their sons and sparing their women: Verily he ever sowed corruption.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 28:4]
The people of Israel at that time were from the people of Egypt. This means they had been Egyptianised throughout the centuries. Becoming from the people of Egypt.
“Pharaoh” was the title of the king of Egypt in those days. The Pharaoh had divided the people into groups. A trait of those who want to rule in a very despotic way. He killed their male children and let their women live.
The Will of Allah
Pharoah saw in his dream that his death will be at the hand of one of these individuals. He did not want to allow this to happen.
إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُفۡسِدِینَ
“Verily he ever sowed corruption.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 28:4]
The Quran mentions:
وَنُرِیدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَى ٱلَّذِینَ ٱسۡتُضۡعِفُوا۟ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَنَجۡعَلَهُمۡ أَىِٕمَّة وَنَجۡعَلَهُمُ ٱلۡوَ ٰرِثِینَ
“While We wanted to show supreme factor to those who had been downtrodden in the land, and make them exemplars of the good, and make them the inheritors“ [Keller, The Quran Beheld 28:5]
The words وَنُرِیدُ (“While We wanted”) are key to the life of Musa (peace be upon him). Allah willed that Musa return to his mother. Allah willed that Musa lead Bani Israel into the land of Sanai. All of this is the will of Allah. This word is the key of success in the story of Musa.
No Quarter, No Claim
Pharaoh decided to let one year pass without killing the children and another year he would kill them. Musa (peace be upon him) was born in the year in which Pharaoh decided to kill the children. Allah left no favor to Pharaoh to claim against Musa later on. He could not say, “I have saved your life.”
In this difficult scene where Pharaoh is killing, destroying, persecuting and genociding, Allah says:
وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسْتُضْعِفُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةًۭ وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ ٱلْوَٰرِثِينَ
وَنُمَكِّنَ لَهُمۡ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَنُرِیَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ وَهَـٰمَـٰنَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا مِنۡهُم مَّا كَانُوا۟ یَحۡذَرُونَ
“While We wanted to show supreme factor to those who had been downtrodden in the land, and make them exemplars of the good, and make them the inheritors; And to establish them on earth; And show Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts the very thing from them they were striving to prevent.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 28:5-6]
Allah wanted these persecuted people to be the leaders and the inheritors of the land. Allah wanted to turn the plans of Pharaoh upside down.