Stories of the Prophets
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Prophet Musa (Moses) & Harun (Aaron)
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Part 3
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The Plagues of Egypt
Moses repeated his demand that Pharaoh releases the children of Israel from slavery. In response,
Pharaoh called his subjects, including the children of Israel, to a huge gathering where he
reminded them that he was their Lord and provided all their needs. He said Moses had no gold
amulets or angels following him; he was just a poor man.
Being a people who had been oppressed for a very long time, they lacked vision. Their judgment
was limited to what they could see in the material world. They regarded their ruler as wealthy
and able to provide for all their worldly needs. In ignorance, they obeyed Pharaoh and ignored
Moses’s call.
Egypt Suffers a Drought and a Flood
Allah commanded Moses to warn Pharaoh of a punishment in this world for his faithlessness and
his persecution of the children of Israel. As a warning of the punishment which Allah would meet
out, the Nile did not flood its banks to soak the dry land as it normally did. As a result, crops
failed, leading to famine. However, Pharaoh remained arrogant, so Allah caused a huge flood,
devastating the land.
Locusts destroy Egypt’s Crops.
As often as they were troubled grievously, they appealed to Moses thus:
“O Moses! Invoke your Lord for us because of His Promise to you. IF you remove the
punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the children of Israel go
with you.” (Ch 7:134 Quran)
Moses prayed to his Lord, and He relived the suffering caused by the flood. The surging water
ceased and withdrew from the land, becoming cultivatable. But when Moses bade them
fulfil their promise to release the children of Israel, they did not respond.
Then Allah sent swarms of locusts that ate whatever corps they had grown. The people hurried
to Moses, asking him to invoke Allah to remove this affliction and promising they would send the
children of Israel with him this time. The locusts departed, but they did not fulfil their promise.
Egypt Becomes Infested with Lice
Then another sign came, the sign of lice, which spread amongst the Egyptians, carrying diseases.
Their refuge in Moses and their promise to him was repeated. His prayer to Allah was repeated, and so, too, their breach of promise, as usual.
Egypt Becomes Infested with Frogs
A sign of frogs was revealed. The land suddenly filled with frogs. They jumped on the food of the
Egyptians shared their houses and distressed them greatly. The Egyptians went to Moses again,
promising him to release the children of Israel. He prayed to his Lord, and Allah relieved them of
the problem of the frogs, but they again broke their promise.
Nile’s water was changed to Blood.
Then the last sign was revealed, the sign of Blood. The Nile water was changed into Blood. When
Moses and his people drank the water; it was, for them, ordinary water. However, if any Egyptian
filled his cup with the water, he discovered his cup full of Blood. They hurried to Moses as usual,
but as soon as everything returned to normal, they turned their backs on Allah.
Allah’s Punishments on the Disbelievers – Quranic
Almighty Allah said:
“And indeed We punished the people of Pharaoh with years of drought, and shortness of fruits
(crops, etc.), that they mighty remember (take heed). But whenever good came to them, they
said: “Ours is this.” And if evil athem, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Moses and
those with him. Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with Allah, but most know not.
They said to Moses: “Whatever Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.)
you may bring to us, to work in addition to that your sorcery on us, we shall never believe in you.” So We
sent on them: the flood, the locusts, the lice, the frogs, and the Blood: (as a succession of)
manifest signs, yet they remained arrogant, and they were of those people who were Mujrimeen
(criminals, polytheists, sinners, etc.) (Ch 7:130-133 Quran)
Almighty Allah also said:
“But when We removed the punishment from them to a fixed term, which they had to reach,
behold! They broke their word! (Ch 7:135 Quran)
Moses’ Story – Condensed and Quranic
Pharaoh became ruder and more arrogant. He proclaimed to his people. “Pharaoh is the only god.
Has he not the kingdom of Egypt and rivers flowing under it?” He declared that Moses was a liar,
a magician, and a poor man who did not wear even one bracelet of gold.
Almighty Allah declared:
“And indeed We did send Moses with Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs,
Revelations, etc.) to Pharaoh and his chiefs (inviting them to Allah’s Religion of Islam). He said:
“Verily! I am a Messenger of the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists).
But when he came to them with our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations,
etc.) behold! They laughed at them. And not an Ayah (sign, etc.) We showed them, but it was
greater than its fellow, and We seized them with torment so that they might turn from their
polytheism to Allah’s Religion (Islamic Monotheism).
And they said to Moses: “O you sorcerer! Invoke your Lord for us according to what He has
covenanted with you. Verily, we shall guide ourselves aright.”
But when We removed the torment from them, behold! They broke their covenant (that they will
believe if We remove the torment for them).
And Pharaoh proclaimed among his people, saying, “O my people! Is not mine the dominion of
Egypt, and the rivers flowing underneath me. See you not then? Am I not better than this one
(Moses), and who is Mahin (has no honour or respect, and is weak, and despicable) and can
scarcely express himself clearly? Why then are not golden bracelets bestowed on him or angels
sent along with him?”
Thus he (Pharaoh) befooled and misled his people, and they obeyed him. Verily, they were
Fasten (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).
So When they angered Us, We punished them and drowned them all. And We made them a
precedent (as a lesson for those coming after them) and an example to later generations. (Ch
43:46-56 Quran).
Pharaoh and his Amry Perish – Moses Allowed to Leave Egypt
It appeared that Pharaoh would never believe in Moses’s message, nor would he stop the torture
of the children of Israel. Therefore, Moses prayed to his Lord thus:
“Our Lord! You have indeed bestowed on Pharaoh and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life
of this world, our Lord! That they may lead men astray from Your Path. Our Lord! Destroy their
wealth, and harden their hearts, so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment.”
Allah said: “Verily, the invocation of you both is accepted. So you both keep to the Straight Way
(keep on doing good deeds and preaching Allah’s Message with patience), and follow not the
path of those who know not (the truth, to believe in the Oneness of Allah, and also to believe in
the Reward of Allah: Paradise etc.).” (Ch 10:88-89 Quran)
Allah inspired Moses to conduct his people of Egypt, but only a few of his people believed in his
Message. Allah revealed:
“But none believed in Moses except the offspring of his people, because of the fear of Pharaoh
and his chiefs lest they should persecute them; and certainly, Pharaoh was an arrogant tyrant on
the earth, he was indeed one of the Musrifeen (polytheists, sinners, and transgressors, those who
give up the truth and follow the evil, and commit all kinds of great sins).
And Moses said: “O my people! If you have believed in Allah, then put your trust in Him if you
are Muslims (those who submit to Allah’s Will).”
They said: “In Allah, we put our trust. Our Lord! Make us not a trial for the folk who are
zalimeen (polytheists and wrong-doing) (do not make them overpower us). And save us by Your
Mercy from the disbelieving folk.” (Ch 10:83-86 Quran).
Almighty Allah decided to end Pharaoh’s crimes after He had given him several chances.
Allah commanded Moses to depart, and the children of Israel received reluctant permission from
the Pharaoh to go out of the city for the feast. They prepared themselves to leave Egypt. This
later became known as Exodus. They carried with them their jewels and borrowed a lot of jewels
from the Egyptians.
The Pharaoh Learns of the Believer’s Escape
In the darkness of night, Moses led his people towards the Red Sea, and in the morning, they
reached the beach. Pharaoh was aware of their departure by then, so he mobilized a huge army to
pursue them.
The Parting of the Red Sea
The impatient children of Israel soon became agitated, and Joshua (Yusha), Ibn Nun, exclaimed:
“In front of us is this impassable barrier, the sea, and behind us the enemy; surely death cannot be
avoided!”
Moses replied that he would wait for further guidance from Allah. These words filled them with
hope, but man is always impatient for results: they were willing to surrender themselves
to slavery. At that moment, Allah revealed to Moses: “Smite the sea with your staff!”
Moses did as he was commanded. A fierce wind blew, the sun shone brightly, and in a flash the
the sea parted, the crests of the waves standing like mountains on each side.
Moses led his people across. This miracle proved Moses’s oft-repeated claim. “Verily! My Lord is
with me!” As they looked back, they saw Pharaoh and his army approaching, about to take the
very path which had been opened for them. In great fear and panic, they pleaded with Moses to
ask Allah to close the sea. However, Allah commanded Moses not to smite the sea with his staff
again, for Allah’s decree was already in action.
The Death of the Pharaoh
Pharaoh and his army had seen the miracle, how the sea had parted, but being the pretender that
he was, Pharaoh turned to his men and proclaimed: “Look! The sea has opened at my command
so that I may follow those rebels and arrest them!” They rushed across the parted waters, and
when they were midway, Allah commanded the sea to return to its former state.
Terror-stricken Pharaoh, realizing his end had come, declared out of fear: “I believe that there is
no god worthy of worship except Allah in Whom the children of Israel believe, and I am of those
who surrender to Him.” But Allah did not accept this declaration from the tyrant, and the waters
closed over him, drowning him and his entire army.
Almighty Allah narrated:
“And We inspired Moses, saying: “Take away My slaves by night, verily, you will be pursued.”
Then Pharaoh sent callers to all the cities. Saying: “Verily! These indeed are but a small band.
And certainly, they have done what has enraged us; but we are host all assembled, amply
fore-warned.”
So, We expelled them from gardens and springs, treasures, and every kind of a good place.
Thus (We turned them Pharaoh’s people) out, and We caused the children of Israel to inherit
them.
So they pursued them at sunrise. And when the two hosts saw each other, the people of Moses
said: “We are sure to be overtaken.”
Moses said: “Nay, verily! With me is my Lord; He will guide me.”
Then We inspired Moses, saying: “Strike the sea with your stick.” And it parted, and each
separate (part of that sea water) became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain.
Then We brought near the others (Pharaoh’s party) to that place. And We saved Moses and all
those with him. Then We drowned the others. Verily! This is indeed a sign (or a proof), yet
most of them are not believers. And certainly, your Lord! He is truly the All-Mighty, the Most
Merciful.” (Ch 26:52-68 Quran)
Moses’ People Escape and Pharaoh’s Death – Quranic
In another surah, Almighty Allah narrated:
“And We took the children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts followed them in
oppression and hostility, till when drowning overtook him; he said: “I believe that La ilaha illa
huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but) He, in whom the children of Israel believe, and I
am one of the Muslims (those who submit to Allah’s Will).”
Now (you believe), while you refused to believe before, you were one of the mujahideen
(evildoers, corrupts, etc.). So this day, We shall deliver your dead body out from the sea that you
may be a sign to those who come after you! And certainly, many among mankind are heedless of our
Ayah (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). (Ch 10:90-92 Quran)
The curtain fell on Pharaoh’s tyranny, and the waves threw his corpse up to the western seashore.
The Egyptians saw him and knew that their god, whom they worshipped and obeyed, were mere
enslaved people who could not keep death away from their necks.
The Moses’ People Desire an Idol
Despite Pharaoh’s death, he left a bad influence on the souls of the children of Israel. It was
difficult for the years of oppression and intense humility to pass easily. He had made them
accustomed to humbling themselves and submitting to someone other than Allah. He had so
suppressed their souls and spoiled their nature that they began to torture Moses out of ignorance
and stubbornness.
The miracle of the parting of the sea was still fresh in their minds; damp sea sands were still stuck
on their soles when they passed by a people worshipping idols. Instead of manifesting their
anger at the idolaters’ oppression of the intellect by celebrating the praises of Allah for His
guidance, they looked to Moses for him to specify a god for them to worship as those other
people did. They were jealous of the other people and their idols, and they desired the same. They
missed the ancient idolatry with which they had lived g the reign of Pharaoh.
Moses’ People Desire an Idol – Quranic
Allah the Exalted revealed:
“And We brought the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea, and they came upon a
people devoted to some of their idols (in worship). They said: “O Mûsa (Moses)! Make for us an
ilâhan (a god) as they have âliha (gods).” He said: “Verily, you are a people who know not (the
Majesty and Greatness of Allâh and what is obligatory upon you, i.e. to worship none but Allâh
Alone, the One and the Only God of all that exists).”
[Mûsa (Moses) added:] “Verily, these people will be destroyed for that which they are engaged
in (idols-worship). And all that they are doing is in vain.”
He said: “Shall I seek for you an Ilâhan (a God) other than Allâh, while He has given you
superiority over the ‘Alamîn (mankind and jinns of your time).”
And (remember) when We rescued you from Fir’aun’s (Pharaoh) people, who were afflicting you
with the worst torment, killing your sons and letting your women live. And in that was a great
trial from your Lord.” (Ch. 7: 138-141)
The Favours of Allah on Moses’ People
The children of Israel were favoured with Allah’s grace and bounty. They were saved from
oppression and had witnessed the drowning of their cruel ruler Pharaoh. When they needed water
in the dry land, Allah commanded Moses to strike a rock, which parted and sent forth twelve
springs of water for the twelve different tribes so that they need not dispute over a shortage of
water. Allah also kept the skies cloudy to protect them from the scorching sun. To relieve their
hunger, manna (the dried exudate of certain plants) and quail were provided.
Despite Allah’s generosity, the mean spirited ones began to stir Moses’ people to object that
they were disgusted with this food; they desired onions, garlic, beans, and lentils, which were
traditional Egyptian foods. That is why the children of Israel asked Prophet Moses to pray to
Allah to make the earth produce these foods. Moses again admonished them for oppressing
themselves and their desire to return to a life of humiliation in Egypt. He also pointed out that
they were ungrateful for the best and most abundant food. They wanted the worst instead of the
best.
Allah’s Favours on Moses’ People – Quranic
Allah the Exalted said:
“Remember when Moses asked for water for his people? We said: “Strike the stone with your
stick.” Then gushed forth from that place twelve springs. Each group of people knew its place for
water. “Eat and drink of what which Allah had provided and do not act corruptly, making
mischief on the earth.”
And remember when you said: “O Moses! We cannot endure one kind of food. So invoke your
Lord for us to bring forth for us of what the earth grows, its herbs, its cucumbers, its Fum
(wheat, or garlic), its lentils and its onions.” He said: “Would you exchange that which is better
for that which is lower? Go you down to any town, and you shall find what you want!” (Ch
2:60-61 Quran).
The Cowardice of Moses’ People
Allah had also directed Moses to lead them to the Promised Land (Palestine), which had been
promised to Abraham as a land where the pious and Allah-fearing of his offspring would live
and uphold Allah’s law. The children of Israel were an ungrateful people. Despite Allah’s
favours, they could not stay away from evil and continued to reject Allah’s Laws. When Moses
ordered them to conquer the town of the Canaanites, the Hittites (their enemies who had hounded
them), the children of Israel were cowardly. They made excuses: “O Moses, a great people dwell
therein; we will not go in unless they leave.” Ancient books tell that they were six hundred
thousand men. Moses did not find two men who were ready to fight among them. These two
said to the people: “Once we enter through the door, Allah will make us victorious.” However, all
the children of Israel were an incarnation of cowardice and quivered from within.
Allah Keeps Moses’ People Wandering
Moses knew that his people were fit for nothing. Pharaoh was dead, but his effect upon their souls
remained. Their recovery needed a long period. Moses returned to his Lord, telling
Him that he was responsible only for the actions of himself and his brother. He prayed to his Lord
to judge between his people and himself.
Allah the Exalted issued His judgment against this generation whose nature was corrupted by the
Egyptians: they must wander restlessly in the wilderness until this generation had died or become
senile and had created another generation, a generation which had not been defeated from within
and which could fight and score the victory.
The Cowardice of Moses’ People – Quranic
Almighty Allah revealed:
“And remember when Moses said to his people: “O my people! Remember the Favor of Allah to
you, when He made Prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to
any other among the Alamin (mankind and jinn) in the past. Oh, my people! Enter the holy land
(Palestine) which Allah has assigned to you and turn not back in flight for then you will be
returned as losers.”
They said: “O Moses! In it (this holy land) are a people of great strength, and we shall never
enter it till they leave it; when they leave, then we will enter.”
Two men of those who feared Allah and in whom Allah had His Grace said: “Assault them
through the gate, for when you are in, victory will be yours and put your trust in Allah if you are
believers indeed.”
They said: “O Moses! We shall never enter it as long as they are there. So go you, and your Lord
and fight you two, we are sitting right here.” (Ch. 5: 20-24)
Moses’ People are Kept Wandering – Quranic
He (Moses) said: “O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my brother, so separate us
from the people who are the Fasiqun (rebellious and disobedient to Allah)!”
Allah said: “Therefore it (this holy land) is forbidden to them for forty years; in distraction, they
will wander through the land. So be not sorrowful over the people who are the Fasiqun
(rebellious and disobedient to Allah).” (Ch 5:20-26 Quran)
Moses Fasts for Forty Days
The days of restless wandering began. Each day ended where it began and began where it ended.
They started walking to no destination, day and night, morning and evening. They entered Sinai.
Moses came to the same place where he had spoken to Allah for the first time. He appealed to
Allah for guidance in judging over his people. Allah instructed him to purify himself by fasting for
thirty days, after which he was to go to Mount Sinai, where he would be given the law by which
he would govern his people.
The ancients said that after Moses fasted for thirty days, he hated to speak to his Lord because of the
odour of his mouth. He ate a plant of the earth, and then his Lord said to him: “Why did you break
your fast?” Moses said: “O my Lord, I disliked to speak to You with my mouth not having a
pleasant smell.” Allah said: “Do you not know, Moses, the odour of the faster’s mouth is more
fragrant to Me than the rose. Go back and fast ten days; then come back to Me.” Moses did what
Allah commanded.
Moses Speaks to Allah – Quranic
Almighty Allah declared:
“And We appointed for Moses thirty nights and added to the period ten more, and he completed
Them term, appointed by his Lord, of forty nights. And Moses said to his brother Aaron:
“Replace me among my people, act in the Right Way (by ordering the people to obey Allah and
to worship Him Alone) and follow not the Way of the Mufsideen (mischief-makers).”
And when Moses came the time and placed appointed by Us, and his Lord spoke to him, he said:
“O, my Lord! Show me (yourself) that I may look upon You.”
Allah said: “You cannot see Me, but look upon the mountain if it stands still in its place, then you
shall see Me.” So when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He made it collapse to dust, and
Moses fell unconscious. Then when he recovered his senses, he said: “Glory be to You, I
turn to You in repentance, and I am the first of the believers.”
Allah said: “O Moses, I have chosen you above men by My Messages, and by My speaking to
you. So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful.”
And We wrote for him on the Tablets the lesson to be drawn from all things and the explanation
of all things (and said): “hold unto these with firmness, and urge your people to take the better
therein, I shall show you the home of Al Fasiqeen (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah). I shall
turn away from My Ayat (verses from the Quran), those who behave arrogantly on the earth, in an unlawful manner, and even if they see all the Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs,
revelations, etc.), they will not believe in them. And if they see the way of righteousness
(monotheism, piety, and good deeds), they will not adopt it as the way. Still, if they see the way of
error (polytheism, crimes, and evil deeds), they will adopt that way, that is because they have
rejected Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were heedless
to learn a lesson from them. Those who deny Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs,
revelations, etc.) and the Meeting in the Hereafter (Day of Resurrection), vain are their deeds.
Do they expect to be rewarded with anything except what they used to do?” (Ch 7:142-147 Quran)
The Ten Commandments
The Earlier scholars said that The Ten Commandments of the Torah are included in two verses of
the Quran.
“Say: “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from Join not anything in worship
with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents; kill not your children because of poverty- We
provide sustenance for you and them; come not near to shameful sins (illegal sexual
intercourse, etc.) whether committed openly or secretly; and kill not anyone whom Allah has
forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). This He has commanded you that
you may understand. And come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until they attain the age of full strength; and give full measure and full weight with justice. We
burden not any person but that which he can bear. And whenever you give your word (judge
between men or give evidence, etc.), tell the truth even if a near relative is concerned, and
fulfil the Covenant of Allah. This He commands you, that you may remember.” (Ch 6:151-152
Quran).
The Story of Golden Calf – Moses’ People Turn to Idolatry
Moses (PBUH) had been gone for forty days, and his people were becoming restless, for they did
not know that Allah had extended his time by a further ten days. Samira, a man inclined
towards evil, suggested that they find themselves another guide, as Moses had broken his
promise. He said to them: “To find true guidance, you need a god, and I shall provide one
for you.”
So he collected all their gold jewellery, dug a hole where he placed the lot and lit a huge fire to
melt it down. He threw a handful of dust during the casting, making actions like a magician’s to
impress the ignorant. From the molten metal, he fashioned a golden calf. It was hollow, and the
wind passing through it produced a sound. Since superstition was embedded in their past, they
quickly linked the strange sound to something supernatural, as if it were a living god. Some of
them accept the golden calf as their god.
Aaron Tries to Reason with the Idolaters
Moses’s brother Aaron (PBUH), who acted as their leader in Moses’s absence, was grieved and
spoke up: “O my people! You have been deceived. Your Lord is the Most Beneficent. Follow and
obey me.”
They replied: “We shall stop worshipping this god only if Moses returns.”
Those who had remained steadfast in belief separated themselves from the pagans.
Moses Sees the Idolaters
Moses saw his people singing and dancing around the calf statue on his return. Furious at their
paganistic ritual, he flung down the Tablet of the Law he was carrying for them. He tugged
Aaron’s beard and his hair, crying: “What held you back when you saw them going astray? Whey
did you not fight this corruption?”
Aaron replied: “O son of my mother, let go of my beard! The fold considered me weak and was
about to kill me. So make not the enemies rejoice over me, nor put me among the people who are
wrongdoers.”
Moses’s anger began to subside when he understood Aaron’s helplessness, and he began to handle
the situation calmly and wisely.
Almighty Allah narrated:
“They said: “We broke not the promise to you, of our own will, but we were made to carry the
weight of the ornaments of the Pharaoh’s people, then we cast them into the fire, and that was
what As-Saimiri suggested.”
Then he took out of the fire, for them, a statue of a calf which seemed too low. They said: “This is
your Ilah (God), and the ilah (god) of Moses, but Moses has forgotten (his god).”
Did they not see that it could not return them a word (for answer) and that it had no power
either to harm them or to do them good?
And Aaron indeed had said to them beforehand: “O my people! You are being tried in this, and
certainly, your Lord is Allah the Most Beneficent, so follow me and obey my order.”
They said: “We will not stop worshipping it (the calf) until Moses returns to us.” (Ch 20:87-91
Quran)
The Conversation Between Allah and Moses – Quranic
Allah the Exalted revealed some of the dialogue that took place between Him and Moses on
Mount Sinai:
“And what made you hasten from your people, O Moses?”
He said: “They are close on my footsteps, and I hastened to You, O my Lord! That you might be
pleased.”
Allah said: “Verily! We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Saimiri has led them
astray.”
Then Moses returned to his people in a state of anger and sorrow. He said: “O my people! Did
not your Lord promise you a fair promise? Did then the promise seem to you long in coming? Or
did you desire the Wrath should descend from your Lord on you, so you broke your promise to
me (disbelieving in Allah and worshipping the calf)?” (Ch 20: 83-86 Quran)
Moses Sees the Idolators – Quranic
Allah the Exalted revealed what happened further on Moses’s return:
“Moses said: “O Aaron! What stopped you when you saw them going astray, that you followed
me not (according to my advice to you)? Have you then disobeyed my order?”
He (Aaron) said, “O my son of my mother! Seize me not by my beard, nor by my head! Verily, I
feared lest you should say: ‘You have caused a division among the children of Israel, and you
have not respected my word!'”
(Moses) said: “And what is the matter with you, O Samiri? (why did you do so?).”
Samira said: “I saw what you saw not, so I took a handful of dust from the hoofprint of the
Messenger (Gabriel’s horse) and threw it (into the fire in which were put the ornaments of the
Pharaoh’s people, or into the calf). Thus my inner-self suggested to me.”
Moses said: “Then go away! And certainly, your punishment in this life will be that you will say:
‘Touch me not’ (you will live alone exiled away from mankind); and verily (for a future torment),
you have a promise that will not fail. And look at your ilah (god), to which you have been
devoted. We will certainly burn it and scatter its particles in the sea.” (Ch 20:83-98 Quran)
The Idolaters’ Punishment
However, the punishment imposed upon the calf worshippers was severe, death.
“Remember when Moses said to his people: “O my people! Verily, you have wronged yourselves
by worshipping the calf. So turn in repentance to your Creator and kill yourselves (the innocent
kill the wrongdoers among you), that will be better for you in the Sight of your Creator.” Then
He accepted your repentance. Truly, He is the one who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.
(Ch 2:54 Quran)
Therefore, the crime of worshipping the calf did not pass unpunished. Moses commanded the elite
of the children of Israel to pray to Allah for forgiveness and demonstrate their repentance. He
chose seventy men out of them and ordered them: “Rush towards Allah and repent for what you did
and ask His forgiveness for what you left.”
Moses’ People Demand to See Allah
Moses returned to Mount Sinai with the seventy elders, and there he communicated with Allah.
The elders heard Moses speaking with his Lord. (Allah spoke to Moses directly.) Perhaps this was the last miracle they would see, and it was hoped that it would be sufficient
to convey the religion to their hearts forever. However, the seventy elite who heard the miracles
were dissatisfied. They said to Moses:
“O Moses! We shall never believe in you till we see Allah plainly.” (Ch 2:35 Quran)
This was a tragedy that amazes one. It was a tragedy that indicated those who were hard-hearted
and who continued to hold onto sensual and material concerns. Their stubborn demand was
rewarded with punishing lightning bolts and a violent quaking that stupefied their souls and bodies
at once, leaving them dead.
Moses Prays for His People
Moses knew what had happened to the seventy elite and was filled with sorrow. He prayed to his
Lord, entreating Him to forgive them, for they were fools. Foolishness is only expiated by death.
Allah forgave the elders and revived them after their death.
Allah the Exalted declared:
“Moses chose out of his people seventy of the best men for Our appointed time and place of
Meeting, and when they were seized with a violent earthquake, he said: “O my Lord, if it had
been Your Will, You could have destroyed them and me before; would You destroy us for the
deeds of the foolish ones among us? It is only Your Trial by which You lead astray whom You
will, and keep guided whom You will. You are our Wali (Protector), so forgive us and have
Mercy on us, for You, are the Best of Those who forgive. And ordain for us good in this world,
and the Hereafter. Certainly, we have turned unto You.”
He said (as to ) My Punishment I afflict in addition to that whom I will and My Mercy embraces all
things. That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who are the Muttaqun and give Zakat; and those
who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.); Those who
follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (Muhammad) whom they find
written with them in the Torah and the Gospel, (Ch 7:155-157 Quran, Deut. 18:18; Psl.
118:22-23; Isa 42:1-13; Hab, 3:3-4, Matt 21:42-43, Jn 14:16-17, 26-28, 16:7-14) he commands
them for Al Ma’ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained); and forbids them
from Al Munkar (disbelief, polytheism, of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); he allows
them as lawful At Tayyibat (all good and lawful) as regards things, deeds beliefs, persons, food,
etc. and prohibits them as unlawful Al Khabaith (all evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds,
beliefs, persons, food, etc.), he releases them from their heavy burdens (of Allah’s Covenant),
and from the constraints (bindings) that were upon them. So those who believe in him (Muhammad),
honour him, help him, and follow the light (the Quran) which has been sent down with him, it is
they who will be successful. (Ch 7:155-157 Quran)
The Story of Israelites and the Cow – The Pious Man and His Son
Moses (PBUH) stayed among his people, calling them to Allah. It seems their souls were uneasy in a
way that the observant eye could not mistake. Their obstinacy and chattering about what has
become known as “The Story of the Cow” were unwarranted. This topic did not need so many
negotiations between Moses and the people, nor did it need their bias.
It was said that there lived a pious man among the children of Israel. He was poor but very careful
about earning a living; it had to be honestly earned. Everything that he did was done for
the sake of Allah, never for selfish gain. On his deathbed, his last words were: “O Allah, I place my
wife, my little son, and my only possession, a calf, in Your care.” Strangely, he asked his wife to
lead the calf to the forest and leave it there. He did this because he did not trust the children of
Israel, for they were selfish and greedy folk.
After a few years, when the boy had grown up, his mother told him: “Your father has left you a
calf in the trust of Allah. It must have grown into a cow by now.” The son was surprised. He did
not know of any calf all these years and asked his mother where it was. She replied: “Be like your
father and say: ‘I trust in Allah,’ then go look for it.”
With a rope in his hand, he went to the forest and prostrated himself before Allah: “O Allah, Lord
of Abraham and Jacob and Job, return me my father’s trust. “As he raised his head, he saw a
cow coming towards him. It stopped submissively beside him. He tied the rope around its neck
and led it to his house. The cow would not allow anyone else to come near it except the young man.
The youth was as pious as his father. He earned his living by cutting wood. He divided whatever he earned into three equal portions; one he gave to his mother, one he used for his needs, and the
last he gave as charity. His nights, too, were divided into three parts; during the early part of the
night, he helped his mother, the middle part he devoted to the worship of Allah, and during the last
part, he rested.
The People Ask Questions About a Cow
About this, a wealthy man died, leaving behind an only son, who inherited his father’s wealth. His
cousins envied his good fortune and secretly killed him so that they could inherit it.
The dead boy’s other relatives came to the Prophet Moses (PBUH) and asked his help tracing the
boy’s murderer. Moses instructed them to slaughter a cow, remove its tongue and place it on the
corpse. This would reveal the murderer, he told them. They accused Moses of joking. He replied:
“Allah forbid that I will be foolish!” They questioned him about the type of cow they should slaughter,
and he said: “This cow is neither young nor mature, but in between the two conditions, so do as
you have been commanded.”
Instead of following his direction, they asked him more questions. “What colour must it be?”
He replied: “Verily, it is yellow in colour.”
They still were not satisfied with his answer and asked for more details. Moses replied: “It is an
unyoked cow; it does not plough the soil nor water the tilth and is entire without marks.”
Moses’ People Find the Right Cow
They went out in search of such a cow. The only one that matched the description was the one
owned by the orphaned youth. They met him on the way and asked how he would
sell his cow. He told them he would have to consult his mother first, so they accompanied him to
his house and offered her three gold coins. She refused their offer, saying that the cow was worth
much more.
They were on increasing their offer, and the mother kept on refusing. Finally, the son’s urge to
speak to his mother is reasonable. He told them: “I will not sell the cow without my mother’s
approval, even if you offered me its skin filled with gold!” On hearing this, his mother smiled and
said: “Let that be the price: its skin filled with gold.” They realized that no other cow would do;
they had to have it at any price. They agreed to buy the cow and paid with its skin filled with gold.
The People are Asked to Slaughter a Cow – Quranic
Allah the Almighty narrated:
“And remember when Moses said to his people: “Verily, Allah commands you that you slaughter
a cow.”
They said: “Do you make fun of us?”
He said: “I take Allah’s Refuge from being among Al Jahileen (the ignorants or the foolish).”
They said: “Call upon your Lord for us that He may make plain to us what it is!”
He said: “He says, ‘Verily, it is a cow neither too old nor too young, but it is between the two
conditions, so do what you are commanded.”
They said, “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us its colour.”
He said: “He says, ‘It is a yellow cow bright in its colour, pleasing to the beholders.'”
They said: “Call upon your Lord for us to make plain to us what it is. Verily to us, all cows are
alike, and surely, if Allah wills, we will be guided.”
He (Moses) said: “He says, ‘It is a cow neither trained to till the soil nor water the fields, sound,
having no other colour except bright yellow.'”
They said: “Now you have brought the truth.” So they slaughtered it though they were near to not
doing it.
And remember when you killed a man and fell into dispute among yourselves to the crime. But
Allah brought forth that which you were hiding. So We said: “Strike him (the dead man) with a
piece of it (the cow).” Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayat (proofs,
evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) so that you may understand.
Then after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stone or even worse in hardness. And
indeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth, and indeed, there are stones that fall for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. (Ch 2:67-74 Quran).
The Story of Moses and Al-Khidr – Moses Informed of a Wise Man
One day Moses (PBUH) delivered such an impressive sermon that all who heard it was deeply
moved. Someone in the congregation asked: “O Messenger of Allah, is there another man on
earth more learned than you?” Moses replied: “No!” believing so, as Allah had given him the
power of miracles and honoured him with the Torah.
However, Allah revealed to Moses that no man could know all there is to know, nor would one
Messenger alone is the custodian of all knowledge. There would always be another who knew
what others did not. Moses asked Allah: “O Allah, where is this man? I would like to meet him
and learn from him.” He also asked for a sign of this person’s identity.
Allah instructed him to take a live fish in a water-filled vessel. When the fish disappeared, he
would find the man he sought. Moses set out on his journey, accompanied by a young man who
carried the vessel with the fish. They reached a place where two rivers met and decided to rest
there. Instantly, Moses fell asleep.
Moses Finds Al-Khidr
While he was asleep, his companion saw the fish wriggle out of the vessel into the river and swim
away. However, he forgot to relate the incident to Moses. When he awoke, they continued their
journey until they were exhausted and hungry. Moses asked for his morning meal. Only then did
his companion recall that the fish they had brought with them had gotten away. Hearing this,
Moses exclaimed: “This is exactly what we are seeking!”
They hurriedly retraced their steps to where the rivers met and where the fish had
jumped out. There they found a man, his face partly covered with a hood. His bearing showed he
was a saintly man. He was Al-Khidr, the guide.
Moses Finds Al-Khidr – Quranic
Allah the Almighty narrated:
“And remember when Moses said to his boy servant: “I will not give up (travelling) until I reach
the junction of the two seas or until I spend years and years in travelling.”
But when they reached the junction of the two seas, they forgot their fish, and it took its way
through the sea as in a tunnel. So when they had passed further on (beyond that fixed place),
Moses said to his boy servant: “Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered much fatigue
in this, our journey.”
He said: “Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the dock? I forgot the fish. None
but Satan made me forget to remember it. It took its course into the sea in a strange way!”
Moses said: “That is what we have been seeking.” So they went back, retracing their footsteps.
Then they found one of Our slaves, unto whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We
had taught knowledge from Us. (Ch. 18: 60-65)
Moses Speaks to Al-Khidr
Moses said to him (Khidr), “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge
(guidance, and true path) which Allah has taught you?”
He (Khidr) said: “Verily! You will not be able to have patience with me! And how can you have
patience about a thing which you know not?”
Moses said, “If Allah will, you will find me patience, and I will not disobey you in aught.”
He (Khidr) said: “Then if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I mention it to
you.”
So they both proceeded till, when they were in the ship, he (Khidr) scuttled it. Moses said:
“Have you scuttled it to drown its people? Verily, you have done Imra- a Munkar (evil,
bad, dreadful) thing.”
He (Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you that you would not be able to have patience with me?”
Moses said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair
with you.”
Then they both proceeded till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. Moses said: “Have you
killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have done Nukra a great Munkar
(prohibited, evil dreadful) thing!”
Khidr said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?”
Moses said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an
excuse from me.”
Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food,
but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse, and he
(Khidr) set it up straight. Moses said: “If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for
it!”
Khidr said: “This is the parting between you and me; I will tell you the interpretation of those
things over which you were unable to hold patience.
“As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective
damage in it, as there was a king after them, who seized every ship by force.
“And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by
rebellion and disbelief. So we intended their Lord to change him for them for one better
in righteousness and near mercy.
“And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a
treasure belonging to them, and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that
they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your
Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which
could not hold patience. (Ch 18:66-82 Quran)
Moses Seeks Al-Khidr – Hadith
The story of Moses and Al-Khidr is also told in a hadith. Said Ibn Jubair said: “I said to Ibn’
Abbas, Nauf Al Bukah claims that Moses, the companion of Al Khidr, was not Moses (the
Prophet) of the children of Israel, but some other Moses.’ Ibn Abbas said: ‘Allah’s enemy (Neuf)
has told a lie. Ubai Ibn Kab told us that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Once Moses stood up and
addressed Bani Israel. He was asked who was the most learned man amongst the people. He said:
“I.” Allah admonished him as he did not attribute absolute knowledge to Him (Allah). So, Allah
said to him: “Yes, at the junction of the two seas, there is a slave of Mine who is more learned
than you.” Moses said, “O my Lord! How can I meet him?” Allah said: “Take a fish and put it in a
large basket, and you will find him at the place where you will lose the fish.”
Moses took a fish and put it in a basket, and proceeded along with his servant boy, Joshua (Yusha
Ibn Nun), till they reached the rock where they laid their heads (lay down). Moses slept, and the
fish, moving out of the basket, fell into the sea. It took its way into the sea straight as in a tunnel.
Allah stopped the water flow over the fish, and it became like an arch (the Prophet pointed out
this arch with his hands). They travelled the rest of the night, and the next day Moses said to his
boy servant: “Give us our food, for indeed, we have suffered much fatigue in this journey of
ours.” Moses did not feel tired until he crossed that place Allah had ordered him to seek
after. His boy said to him: “Do you know that when we were sitting near that rock, I forgot the
fish, and none but Satan caused me to forget to tell you about it, and it took its course into the sea
in an amazing way?” So there was a path for the fish, and that astonished them. Moses said: “That
was what we were seeking after.”
So both of them retraced their footsteps till they reached the rock. There they saw a man lying
covering with a garment.
Moses Talks to Al-Khidr – Hadith
Moses greeted him, and he replied saying: “How do people greet each other in your land?” Moses
said: “I am Moses.”
The man asked: “Moses of Bani Israel?” Moses said: “yes, I have come to you so that you may
teach me from those things which Allah has taught you.” He said: “O Moses! I have some of the
knowledge of Allah which Allah has taught me and which you do not know; you have some of
the knowledge of Allah which Allah has taught you and which I do not know.” Moses asked:
“May I follow you?” He said: “But you will not be able to remain patient with me, for how can
you be patient about things which you will not be able to understand?” Moses said: “You will find
me, if Allah so will, truly patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.”
So both of them set out walking along the seashore. A boat passed by them, and they asked the
boat crew to take them on board. The crew recognized Al-Khidr, so they took them on
board without fare. When they were on board the boat, a sparrow came and stood on the edge of
the boat and dipped its beak once or twice into the sea. Al Khidr said to Moses: “O Moses! My
knowledge and your knowledge have not decreased Allah’s knowledge except as much as this
sparrow has decreased the water of the sea with its beak.” Then suddenly, Al Khidr took an adz
and pulled up a plank, and Moses did not notice it till he had pulled up a plank with the adz.
Moses said to him: “What have you done? They took us on board, charging us nothing, yet you
have intentionally made a hole in their boat to drown its passengers. Verily, you have done a
dreadful thing.” Al Khidr replied: “Did I not tell you that you would not be able to remain patient
with me?” Moses replied: “Do not blame me for what I have forgotten, and do not be hard upon
me for my fault.” So the first excuse of Moses was that he had forgotten.
When they had left the sea, they passed by a boy playing with other boys. Al Khidr took hold of
the boy’s head and plucked it with his fingertips as if he were plucking some fruit. Moses said to
him: “Have you killed an innocent person who has not killed any person? You have done a
horrible thing.” Al Khidr said: “Did I not tell you that you could not remain patient with me?”
Moses said: “If I ask you about anything after this, don’t accompany me. You have received an
excuse from me.”
Then both of them went on till they came to some people of a village, and they asked its
inhabitants for food, but they refused to entertain them as guests. Then they saw a wall therein that was going to collapse, and Al Khidr repaired it by touching it with his hands.
(Sufyan, the sub-narrator, gestured with his hands, illustrating how Al Khidr passed his hands
over the wall upwards.) Moses said: “These are the people whom we have called on, but they
neither gave us food, nor entertained us as guests, yet you have repaired their wall. If you had
wished, you could have taken wages for it.”
Al Khidr said: “This is the parting between you and me, and I shall tell you the explanation of
those things on which you could not remain patient.”
The Prophet (PBUH) added: “We wish that Moses could have remained patient by which
Allah might have told us more about their story.” (Sufyan, the sub-narrator, said that the Prophet
(PBUH) said: “May Allah bestow His Mercy on Moses! If he had remained patient, we would have
been told further about their case.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
The Death of Moses – Moses’ Suffering
Moses (PBUH) suffered terribly from his people and endured much for the sake of Allah.
Abdullah Ibn Umar narrated: “Once the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) distributed something
(among his companions). A man said: “This distribution has not been done (with justice) seeking
Allah’s Countenance.’ I went to the Prophet (PBUH) and told him of that. He became so angry that
I saw the signs of anger on his face. Then he said: ‘May Allah bestow His Mercy on Moses, for he
was harmed more (in a worse manner) than this; yet he endured patiently.'” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
The children of Israel mistreated Moses (PBUH) a lot. His agony was not limited to mutiny,
stupidity, chattering, ignorance, and idolatry; it exceeded this and went as far as inflicting personal
harm on him.
Almighty Allah commanded:
“O you who believe! Be not like those who annoyed Moses, but Allah cleared him of what
they alleged, and he was honourable in Allah’s sight! (Ch 33:69 Quran).
Allah Clears Moses of False Rumors
Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Prophet Moses was a shy
person and used to cover his body completely because of his extensive shyness. One of the
children of Israel hurt him by saying: ‘He covers his body in this way only because of some defect
in his skin, either leprosy or scrotal hernia, or he has some other defect.’
Allah wished to clear Moses of what they said about him, so one day, while Moses was in
seclusion, he took his clothes, put them on a stone, and started taking a bath. When he had
finished the bath, he moved towards his clothes to take them, but the stone took his clothes
and fled. Moses picked up his stick and ran after the stone, saying: ‘O stone! Give me my garment!’
till he reached a group of children of Israel who saw him naked then and found him in the best
shape of what Allah had created, and Allah cleared him of what they had accused him of. The
stone stopped there, and Moses took and put on his garment and started hitting the stone with his
stick. The stone still has some traces of the hitting, three, four, or five marks by Allah. This was
what Allah the Almighty refers to in His saying:
“O you who believe! Be not like those who annoyed Moses, but Allah cleared him of that which
they alleged, and he was honourable in Allah’s sight!” (Ch 33:69 Quran) (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
The Death of Aaron
Aaron (PBUH) died shortly before Moses (PBUH). His people were still wandering in the wilderness
when he died.
The Death of Moses
Abu Hurairah narrated: “The Angel of Death was sent to Moses (PBUH). When he came to Moses,
Moses slapped him in the eye. The Angel returned to his Lord and said: ‘You have sent me to a
slave who does not want to die.’ Allah said: ‘Return to him and tell him to put his hand on the
back of an ox and for every hair that will come under it, he will be granted one year of life.’ Moses
said: ‘O Lord! What will happen after that?’ Allah replied: ‘then death.’ Moses said: ‘Let it come
now!’ Moses then requested Allah to let him die close to the Holy Land so that he would be at a
distance of a stone’s throw from it.” Abu Hurairah added: “Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: ‘If I
were there, I would show you his grave below the red sandhill on the side of the road.'” (Sahih Al
Bukhari)
Moses (PBUH), Prophet of Allah and the one to whom Allah spoke directly, met his death with a
contented soul and a faithful heart that looked forward to righteousness and made haste to meet
with Him Who bore tidings of peace.
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