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Chapter-4: Moses (pbuh)

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is among the most prominent great prophets of Allah, He says: “Also mention In the Book (the story of) Moses: for He was specially chosen, and He was a Messenger (and) a prophet.”(Qur’an;19:51). Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) who lived around 13th century B.C. played an important role to keep the torch of Monotheism (tawhid) alight after Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). He was named Moshe or Moses, being "Saved from the water" (Exodus;2:10),  as his mother had to put him in water to save his life from being killed by soldiers of Pharaoh, who oppressed and persecuted the Israelites. The lives of Israelites were made bitter with hard bondage, and "all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor" (Exodus;1:13-14). Allah says: “Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron with Our Signs and authority manifest”(Qur’an;23:45). Prophet Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them) had a dual mission: Firstly for Pharaoh and his Court, which failed because of their rebelliousness, Secondly to the Israelites, for whom the Law was received on Mount Sinai, but they repeatedly rebelled against Allah. “And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the criterion (between right and wrong) there was a chance for you to be guided aright.”(Qur’an;2:53). Qur’an, directly referrers to Moses at least seventy two times. Nine miracles were awarded to him by Allah: “And verily We gave unto Moses nine tokens, clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty). Do but ask the Children of Israel how he came unto them, then Pharaoh said unto him: Lo! I deem thee one bewitched, O Moses.”(Qur’an;17:101). In both cases there were miracles ("Clear Signs") and other proofs which showed that they came at Allah's command and were inspired by His authority.

Narrative in Qur’an:

The Qur’an records that Moses, in infancy having been placed in a basket in the Nile, to save his life, because the male children of Israelites were killed on the orders of Egyptian Pharaoh (Qur’an;20:39). He was picked up by wife of Pharaoh, she adopts him, hence he is brought up in the house of Pharaoh, while his mother was employed to suckle the child (Qur’an;28:9, 28:7, 13);“When He reached full age, and was firmly established (in life), we bestowed on Him wisdom and knowledge: for Thus do we reward those who do good.”(Qur’an;28:14);“And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.”(Acts;7:22). One day he unintentionally killed an Egyptian who was involved in a scuffle with an Israeli. He repented, and was forgiven by God (Qur’an;28:16) He had to escape to Median to save himself. In the wilderness he helped two women to water their flock. Later their old father offered one of his daughters for marriage, if Moses serve him for 8 or ten years, which he accepted. (Qur’an;28:27,28). Upon completion of stipulated period of service, while traveling with his family in the wilderness, Moses saw bushfire, (Qur’an;28:29) where God spoke to him (Qur’an;27:28, 20:12) and chose him as His messenger (Qur’an;20:13, 17:21). God granted him miracles like staff turning to serpent (Qur’an;20:20, 31:28) and shining hand (Qur’an;20:22, 28:32). Moses was asked to go to Pharaoh, the people of iniquity (Qur’an;26:10,11) who had transgressed the bounds (Qur’an;76:17,20:24) and ask him if he wish to be purified (Qur’an;79:18). Moses was afraid and hesitant (Qur’an;20:45), God assured him that He was with him (Qur’an;20:46).  Moses accepted the assignment with request for assistance from his brother Aaron (Qur’an;20:29, 20:30,28:34), which was granted (Qur’an;20:36,42, 28:35). God asked them: “So go ye both to him (Pharaoh) and say, 'Verily we are Messengers sent by Thy Lord: send forth, therefore, the Children of Israel with us, and afflict them not: with a Sign, indeed, have we come from Thy Lord! and peace to all who follow guidance! 'Verily it has been revealed to us that the penalty (awaits) those who reject and turn away.'"(Qur’an;20:47-48). They went to Pharaoh and invited him to the way of Lord (Qur’an;20:49,50, 20: 53, 40: 41,43). Pharaoh demanded token (miracle),  (Qur’an;7:106) Moses showed him the miracle of staff turning to serpent and shining hand (Qur’an;7:107) but Pharaoh argued, he denied the Miracles, calling them sorcery (Qur’an;10:76,17:101,27:13), he also called Moses as mad man (Qur’an;26:27). In a public gathering Moses encountered with the court magicians, their tricks failed miserably in front of the miracles performed by Moses (Qur’an;20:58, 59,26:38,39, 7:115-119, 20:66, 26:45). The magicians believed in Moses despite threats by Pharaoh (Qur’an;7:120-121, 20:70).  Even after repeated calamities like spread of plagues, famine, floods, locusts, vermin, frogs, blood, Pharaoh did not let the Israelites go. (Qur’an;7:103,130, 133). They deserved to be destroyed, Allah says: “We sent an inspiration to Moses: "Travel by night with My servants, and strike a dry path for them through the sea, without fear of being overtaken (by Pharaoh) and without (any other) fear." (Qur’an;20:77). Finally God miraculously created passage through the sea for the Israelites, but when Pharaoh followed them,  the sea closed (Qur’an;20:78) destroying Pharaoh's and his army (Qur’an;2:50,7:136). Pharaoh believed in the God of Moses when he saw death, but it was too late (Qur’an;10:90). His body was preserved as a sign, (Qur’an;10:92, 69:12) which was discovered intact during last century and is lying in museum. [This motivated Dr.Maurice Bucaille, a French medical doctor, to study Qur’an and then writing his famous book: ‘The Bible, The Qur’an and Science’].
The Israelites after having lived under slavery for long were influenced by the paganism, Allah says: “We took the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea. They came upon a people devoted entirely to some idols which they had. They said: "O Moses! Fashion for us a god like unto the gods they have." He said: "Surely ye are a people without knowledge.”(Qur’an;7:138). Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) spent forty days on the mountain in the worship of Lord, before leaving he said to his brother Aaron: “take my place among the people. Do right, and follow not the way of mischief makers.”(Qur’an;7:142). But the Israelites started worship of calf during this period (Qur’an;51:2), though Aaron opposed it (Bible blames Aaron as well) but they did not listen : “Aaron had already, before This said to them: "O My people! ye are being tested In this: for Verily your Lord is (Allah) Most Gracious; so follow me and obey My command." They had said: "We will not abandon This cult, but we will devote ourselves to it until Moses returns to us." (Qur’an;20:90-91). “When Moses came back to His people, angry and grieved, He said: "Evil it is that ye have done In My place In My absence: did ye make haste to bring on the Judgment of your Lord?" And he cast down the tablets, and he seized his brother by the (the hair of) head, dragging him toward him.
Aaron said: "Son of My mother! The people did indeed reckon me As naught, and went near to slaying me! make not the enemies rejoice over My misfortune, nor count Thou me amongst the people of sin." Moses prayed: "O My Lord! Forgive me and My brother! Admit us to Thy mercy! For Thou art the Most Merciful of those who Show mercy!" (Qur’an;7:150-151). It is mentioned that Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) put down the Tablets, it is not told that the Tablets were broken: “When Mosses’ anger calmed down he took up the Holy Tablets in whose writing there was guidance and mercy for those that fear their Lord” (Qur’an;7:154). This verse indicates that the Tablets were intact. They contained Allah's Message. There is a touch of disrespect (if not blasphemy) in supposing that Allah's Messenger broke the Tablets in his incontinent rage, as is stated in the Old Testament: "Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands, and brake them beneath the Mount." (Exodus;32:19). On this point and also on the point that Aaron (in the Old Testament story) ordered the gold to be brought, made a molten calf, fashioned it with a graving tool, and built an altar before the calf (Exdodus;32:2-5, Psalms;106:19).
The Qur’anic version differs from that of the Old Testament. The Qur’an does not accuse Aaron of having actually participated in making or worshipping the golden calf; his guilt consisted in having remained passive in the face of his, people's idolatry for fear of causing a split among them (Qur’an;20:92-94). It is un-believable that Aaron, who was appointed by Allah to assist Moses as Allah's Messenger, could descend so low as to seduce the people into idolatry, whatever his human weaknesses might be. Moses was but human remembering the charge he had given to Aaron (Qur’an;7:142) he had a just grievance at the turn events had taken. But he did not wreak his vengeance on the Tablets of Allah's law by breaking them. He laid hands on his brother, and his brother at once explained. Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) fulfilled his duty as messenger of God, Allah says: “We gave Moses the Holy Book (Torah) and the criterion of right and wrong so that you might be rightly guided. Remember when Moses returned with the Divine Book he said to his people: "O my people! You have indeed grievously wronged yourselves by taking the calf for worship; so turn in repentance to your Creator and slay the culprits among you; that will be best for you in His sight." He accepted your repentance; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Qur’an;2:53-54).
Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) desired to see God: “When Moses came to the place appointed by us, and His Lord addressed him, He said: "O My Lord! Show (Thyself) to me, that I may look upon thee." Allah said: "By no means canst Thou see me (direct); but look upon the mount; if it abide In its place, then shalt Thou see me." when His Lord manifested His glory on the Mount, He made it As dust and Moses fell down In a swoon. When He recovered His senses He said: "Glory be to Thee! to Thee I turn In repentance, and I am the first to believe.” (Allah) said: "O Moses! I have chosen Thee above (other) men, by the mission I (have given thee) and the words I (have spoken to thee): take then the (revelation) which I give thee, and be of those who give thanks.” (Qur’an;7:143-144). The Israelites also insisted to see God: “And remember ye said: "O Moses! we shall never believe In Thee until we see Allah manifestly," but ye were dazed with thunder and lighting Even As ye looked on.” (Qur’an;2:55); “And Moses chose seventy of His people for Our place of meeting: when They were seized with violent quaking, He prayed: "O My Lord! if it had been Thy will Thou couldst have destroyed, long before, both them and Me: wouldst Thou destroy us for the deeds of the foolish ones among us? This is no more than Thy trial: by it Thou causest whom Thou wilt to stray, and Thou leadest whom Thou wilt into the right path. Thou art Our Protector: so forgive us and give us Thy mercy; for Thou art the best of those who forgive.” (Qur’an;7:155); “Then we raised you up after you had been as dead: so that you might have cause to be grateful.” (Qur’an;2:56).
Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) lead the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai. They received Manna and Salwa, the food miraculously supplied to them during their wanderings in the wilderness (Exodus;16:15-35, Qur’an;2:57) and water for each tribe (Qur’an;2:60). The Israelites got fed up with Manna-Salwa and demanded the fresh vegetables (Qur’an;2:61) Moses asked; 'Would you exchange the better for the worse? If that's what you want go back to some city; there you will find what you have asked for. Moses, continued to lead his people and urged them to conquer the promised land (Qur’an;5:21,23). The spies informed about the strong people there, but the God fearing among them urged to attack from front for victory and put trust upon Allah, but Israelites refused to proceed against the strong opponents : “They said: "O Moses! While they remain there, never shall we be able to enter, to the end of time. Go thou, and Thy Lord, and Fight ye two, while we sit here (and watch). He (Moses) said: "O My Lord! I have power only over Myself and My brother: so separate us from This rebellious people!" Allah said: "Therefore will the land be out of their reach for forty years: In distraction will They wander through the land: but sorrow Thou not over these rebellious people.” (Qur’an;5:24-26). Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) died until they reached the edge of Canaan, however as directed by God, Moses, before his death, invested Joshua in a public and solemn manner with authority over the people as his successor (Deutronomy;31:23).
Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) has the great honour and privilege, God revealed Torah to him: “..to Moses Allah spoke direct” (Qur’an;14:164) , hence he is also referred as (Kaleem Allah). Almighty God told Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) about coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him): "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not harken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him" (Deuteronomy;18:18,19). Prophet Moses (peace be upon him)  and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have many common aspects. With the spread of Islam, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) became admired figure throughout the Muslim world. Today, some thirty three centuries after he lived, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is honored by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, and is even respected by many agnostics.
How much Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was revered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is evident from a Tradition, Narrated by Abu Hurairah: “Two persons, a Muslim and a Jew, quarreled. The Muslim said, "By Him Who gave Muhammad superiority over all the people!" The Jew said, "By Him Who gave Moses superiority over all the people!" At that the Muslim raised his hand and slapped the Jew on the face. The Jew went to the Prophet and informed him of what had happened between him and the Muslim. The Prophet sent for the Muslim and asked him about it. The Muslim informed him of the event. The Prophet said, "Do not give me superiority over Moses, for on the Day of Resurrection all the people will fall unconscious and I will be one of them, but I will be the first to gain consciousness, and will see Moses standing and holding the side of the Throne (of Allah). I will not know whether (Moses) has also fallen unconscious and got up before me, or Allah has exempted him from that stroke."(Sahih, Al-Bukhari Hadith:3.594).
In general, there are three major achievements attributed to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). First, it is quite clear that the monotheism (Islam-submission to One God) preached by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), would have diminished had it not been for Moses, and he unquestionably played the crucial role in its preservation and transmission. Second, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), which are often referred to as the “Five Books of Moses”, and which constitute the Jewish Torah attributed to Moses (the original scriptures are believed to be divinely revealed).
These books include the Mosaic Code, the set of laws which in principle governed the conduct of the Israelites in biblical times, and which include the Ten Commandments. The Torah as a whole and the Ten Commandments in particular have had the enormous influence on the three Abrahamic faiths. However, most biblical scholars agree that the books as available at present were apparently written by several authors, and the great bulk of the material was not put into writing until considerably after Moses’ death. Third, he is credited with being the political figure who led the Jews in the Exodus from Egypt. He could not lead them to enter the holy land (Jerusalem) because the people of Israel lacked in courage and faith, Moses remonstrated with them. The rebellious Israelites after having spent forty years in he wilderness crossed the Jordan opposite what is now Jericho, but by that time Prophet Moses, Aaron (peace be upon them) and the whole of the elder generation had died. If Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had not taken them out of Egypt, they would have continued to suffer the humiliation of slavery. The idea of one true God, which Moses believed in and preached so passionately, has eventually spread through a large part of the world. In this, of course, lies his greatest importance, since Christianity and Islam, the two largest religions in the world, are both rooted to Abrahamic monotheism.

Biblical Narrative:

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is the central figure, not only of the Pentateuch (Five books of Torah) but of the Old Testament. The Hebrews version of narrative of Moses mentioned in Bible is generally identical; mostly it is in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy with some distortions. He is the central figure because he stands at the source that became the norm for the whole religion of Israel. This central importance however has not served to keep a clear picture of his person and work. Rather it has been obscured in history. There seems to be a paradox under his name, authority and personal achievements, which placed the whole later development of the religious institutions of Israel, the law and the cult; but from strictly historical point of view, it appears that Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is not the author of the Pentateuch as available now. The originals seem to be lost in the long checkered history of Israelites. He is called the ‘Servant of God’ not simply in the sense being a loyal adorer of Yahweh, but above all because he was chosen instrument of God, the realization of His design for salvation. Numbers;12:6-8 underscores the more direct link that God wished to create with Moses and which is not seen in other personages who might have the same title: “My servant Moses, throughout my house he bears my trust, face to face I speak to him (Number;12:7,8). In this too lies the distinction between Moses and the other prophets through whom the word of God comes. Because of his constant intercession on behalf of the people Moses is also listed in the category of priests (Psalms;99:6-8, 106:23, Jermiah;15:1). Finally as legislator he appears above all in the post–exilic books with evident reference to the Pentateuch.
In the New Testament Moses is seen in the light of Christ. He prefigured Christ, but because of the debates that arose with the Jews who claimed Moses as the intangible and insuperable of foundation of their existence, Christ is compared with Moses very often to underline the differences between them, which in turn lead to a re-evaluation of this importance. Moses is considered as inferior to the Christ, Hebrewes;3:2-6 underscores the differences between them; “Moses too , was faithful in all God’s household, but Jesus is more worth of honour than he…”. [Muslims do not make any distinction among the prophets, Qur’an;2:136] The Christian realities then have their counterpart in the Old Testament traditions on Moses and the Exodus, but they achieve their effective realization on the level of God’s free self-giving and divine life: law and grace (John;1:17), “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,”(John;3:14), the manna and the Eucharist (John;6:32), Exodus through the water and baptism (1Corinthians;10:2), the Old and New Testament (Hebrews;8:8-10). This correspondence is considered by Christian theologians to attest the unity of God’s design throughout history.

Hebrews after Prophet Moses (peace be upon him):

The next generation after Prophet Moses and Aaron (peace be upon them)  was ruled by Prophet Joshua (peace be upon him), who crossed the Jordan and settled the tribes in Palestine. Having thus subdued the Canaanites, Prophet Joshua (peace be upon him) divided the land among the 12 tribes. His rule lasted for 25 years, after which there was a period of 320 years when the Israelites had a checkered history. They were not united among themselves, and suffered many reverses at the hands of the Midianites, Amalekites and other tribes of Palestine. They frequently lapsed into idolatry and deserted the worship of the true God.  From time to time a leader appeared among them who assumed dictatorial powers. These dictators are called Judges in the English translation of the Old Testament. Acting under a sort of theocratic commission from God, the Judges pointed out their backsliding, re-united them under His banner, and restored, from time to time and place to place, the power of Israel. Though many such leaders are mentioned, the Book of Judges focuses attention upon only few that are singled out as especially significant: Deborah and Barak, Gideon, Abimelech, Jephthah, and Samson. The last of their line was Prophet Samuel (peace be upon him), who marks the transition towards the line of Kings on the one hand and of the later Prophets on the other.  He may be dated approximately about the 11th century B.C. During the period of Samuel, Saul, and David (the 11th-10th century B.C), the Israelites were still threatened by various local enemies. The Israelites became truly united under Saul, as a political entity and established in the Promised Land with him as the first Israelite king (11th Century B.C). (Also narrate in Qur’an;2:246-251). Saul defended Israel against numerous enemies, especially the Philistines.