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All about The Prophet Musa

From Canaan to Egypt

Ya’qub and his sons moved to Egypt because Yusuf the son of Ya’qub was the ruler of Egypt. Back in Canaan, they had herded their flocks, milked their sheep and sold their wool, while in Egypt even Yusufs slaves and servants ate well and enjoyed themselves.

Yusuf sent for Ya’qub and his family, asking them to come from Canaan. He could not relish his food or drink when his father and brothers were not with him. How could he enjoy life when he alone was in Egypt? How could he live in a palace when his father and brothers lived in a tiny house in Canaan?

So Ya’qub and his sons came to Egypt. Yusuf welcomed them and was delighted to see them. The people of Egypt also welcomed the family of their lord, the family of their noble king. They loved this noble family because they loved Yusuf for his generosity and goodness to them, and because they saw he was a compassionate man who gave true counsel. They saw that Ya’qub too was a noble and generous father.

Ya’qub enjoyed great respect in Egypt. Its people were to him like his own sons. They were pleased that Ya’qub and his sons remained in Egypt, and Egypt became their homeland.

After Yusuf

After some time, Ya’qub died and was buried in Egypt. Yusuf grieved over him and so did the people of Egypt. It was as if they had lost their own father.

After a time, Yusuf also died. That was a terrible day for the people of Egypt. They were very sad and wept over him for a long time. They forgot their own sorrows in this greater sorrow. It was as if they had never been visited by any affliction before that day.

They buried Yusuf as well and consoled each other. They were all equal in their love for Yusuf. It was as if every child had lost a father and every adult had lost a brother. They went to Yusuf’s sons and brothers to comfort them. They told them: ‘Masters! Your loss today is no greater than our loss. We have lost a compassionate brother, a merciful and just master, in this man we buried today.

‘He is the one who gave relief to the slaves and removed injustice from our country. He is the one who kept the great from harming the lowly and the strong from overpowering the weak. He is the one who helped those who had been wronged and gave refuge to those who were afraid, and fed those who were hungry.

‘He is the one who guided us to the truth and called us to Allah. Before he came, we were like dumb animals who knew nothing about Allah or the Next World.

‘He is the one who helped us during the famine. We were able to eat our fill while people in other countries were starving. We will never forget our noble king and we will never forget, lords, that you are his brothers and the people of his house.

‘How happy our master was on the day when you came to Egypt! How happy we were to share our master’s joy! The land is yours, and we will behave towards you just as we did when our master was alive.’

The Israelites in Egypt

And so it remained for a long time. The Egyptians remembered what they had said and acknowledged the virtue of the people of Canaan, also called the Israelites, people of nobility and wealth.

But later on things changed. The morals of the Israelites became corrupted and they stopped worshipping Allah and calling other people to worship Him. They slipped into the wicked ways of this world.

The Egyptian people also changed in their behaviour towards the Israelites. They began to look at them in a different way. The Israelites had become just like all other people. People began to envy the wealthy among them and to insult the poor.

The Egyptians believed that they were the people of the land and that Egypt belonged to them. Some of them considered Yusuf a foreigner who had come from Canaan when he was purchased by the Aziz of Egypt. They thought it was not right for a Canaanite to have ruled Egypt. Many of the people forgot the virtue, generosity and charity of Yusuf.

The pharaoh of Egypt

The Pharaohs came to the throne of Egypt, and they bore a deep hatred towards the Israelites. Then a particularly tyrannical man became the king. He did not know that the Israelites were the descendants of Prophets, nor that they were from the house of Yusuf, the noblest king of Egypt. He did not even consider them human beings entitled to mercy and justice.

He thought that his people, the Copts, were one race and the Israelites another. The Copts were a kingly race, created to rule; the Israelites were a race of slaves, created to serve.

Pharaoh treated the Israelites like work-animals who were there to serve and needed only to be fed and watered daily.

He was an arrogant tyrant who believed that no-one was higher than him. He did not believe in Allah. He used to say: 7 am your Lord Most High.’ (79: 24)

He was dazzled by his kingdom, his palaces, and his abundant provision. He used to say: ‘Do I not possess the kingdom of Egypt and these rivers flowing beneath me? What, do you not see?’ {43: 51)

He behaved as if he was the successor to Nimrod, the King of Babylon. He became angry if,he learned that anyone was thought of as being higher than him. He called on people to worship him and prostrate themselves before him, and they obeyed. But the Israelites refused because they believed in Allah and in His Messengers. Pharaoh therefore became very angry indeed with the Israelites.

Killing the children

A Coptic priest went to Pharaoh and told him: ‘А child will be born among the Israelites at whose hands your kingdom will wither away.’

Pharaoh became mad with rage. He ordered his guards to kill every new-born boy of the Israelites. Pharaoh thought that he was the people’s lord and master. He could kill whoever he pleased and let live whoever he pleased, like a sheep-owner who thinks he can kill or let live whichever of ‘his’ sheep he likes.

The guards searched throughout Egypt. Whenever they learned that a male child had been born among the Israelites, they took him and killed him.

Wolves living in the woods, and snakes and scorpions living in the desert, were ignored and safe. But no new-born boy of the Israelites was allowed to live in Pharaoh’s kingdom.

Thousands of children were killed in front of their mothers and fathers. The day on which a male child was born to the Israelites was a day of sorrow and weeping. Jl was like a funeral day, a day for grief. Sometimes hundreds of children were killed on the same day.

Pharaoh had exalted himself in the land and had divided its inhabitants into sects, abasing a group of them, slaughtering their sons and letting their women live. He was one of those who work corruption. (28: 4)

The birth of Musa

But Allah wanted what Pharaoh feared and had been warned about, to take place. The child that Allah had destined to destroy Pharaoh’s kingdom, and to bring people out of darkness into light, out of idol-worship into the worship of Allah, was born.

In spite of Pharaoh and his armies, Musa ibn ‘Imran was born and survived.

In the Nile

Musa’s mother was afraid for her beautiful son. How could she help it when the children’s enemies were

searching for him? How could she help being afraid when the guards had dragged dozens of children from their mothers’ laps?

What could she do? Where could she hide her beautiful child when the guards had the sharp sight of crows and the keen smell of ants?

Then Allah helped Musa’s mother and inspired her with the idea of putting him in a box and floating it down the Nile.

Glory be to Allah! How could a tender-hearted mother put her child into a box and then put it into the Nile? Who would suckle the child in the box? How would it breathe?

Musa’s mother thought of all that, but she still put her trust in Allah and relied on Allah’s protection. Her home was not able to protect the child any more than the box; there were guards everywhere, seeking out the new-born children.

So Musa’s mother did what Allah had commanded her to do and put her beautiful child in a box and pushed it out into the water of the Nile. She was anxious, but then she became calm because of her trust in Allah.

So We inspired the mother of Musa: ‘Suckle him. And\ when you fear for him, put him into the river. Do not fear or sorrow. We will return him to you and make him one of the Messengers.’ (28: 7)

In Pharaoh’s palace

Pharaoh had many palaces on the banks of the Nile. He used to visit these palaces and would sometimes stroll along the banks of the river.

One day, Pharaoh and the Queen of Egypt were walking along the river bank when they noticed a box being carried along by the current

‘My lord, do you see that box?’

‘How can there be a box in the Nile? It is a piece of wood which has fallen into the river?’

‘No, my lord, it is a box.’

The box came nearer and the people said: ‘Yes, it is a box!’

The King commanded one of his servants: ‘Go and get this box!’

The servant brought the box to the King. They opened it and inside they found a beautiful, smiling boy.

Everyone was amazed. They wanted to hold him and look at him. Even Pharaoh was amazed and stared at him.

One of the servants said: ‘It is an Israelite child. The King must kill it.’

When the Queen saw the child love filled her heart and she clasped him to her breast and kissed him. She pleaded with the King for him: ‘He will be a comfort to me and you! Do not kill him. Perhaps he will benefit us or we can take him for a son.’ (28: 9)

So Musa ibn ‘Imran entered the palace of Pharaoh. He survived in spite of Pharaoh and his guards. The guards had not been guided to this Israelite child.

Allah wanted Pharaoh, ‘the children’s enemy,’ to bring up the very child at whose hands his kingdom would be lost. Ah Pharaoh! How wrong he was about Musa! His minister, Haman, and his armies were wrong as well! So the family of Pharaoh picked him out to be an enemy and a sorrow for them. Pharaoh, Haman and their armies were sinners. (28: 8)

Who will suckle the child?

The child became the new plaything of the palace. Everyone came to look at him and kissed him. Everyone loved and praised him because the Queen loved and praised him.

How could the ladies of the palace not love him? How could the servants of the palace not love him? Everyone held him and kissed him because he was so beautiful.

The Queen looked for a wet-nurse to nurse the child. The nurse came and took the child, but he refused to take her milk and cried. The Queen got another nurse who came and took the child. Again, the child refused and cried. There was a third, fourth and fifth, but the child cried and refused their milk.

How puzzling! Why did the child refuse to feed?

The nurses tried hard to give the child their milk. They wanted to make the Queen happy and to win a reward from her. But Allah had made those nurses unlawful for him.

The child became the talk of the palace, the centre of everybody’s attention:

‘Sister, have you seen the new child?’

‘Yes, I’ve seen him. A very beautiful child!’

‘But an odd child! Not like other children. He will not take milk.’

‘Whenever a nurse takes him, he cries and refuses to feed. Poor boy! How will he live? He will die!’

‘Yes, it has been some days since he has fed.’

In his mother’s arms

Musa’s loving mother said to her daughter: ‘Go and see if your brother is alive. Allah promised me that the child would be returned to me and that He would protect him.’

Musa’s sister went to look for her brother. She heard the talk about a beautiful child in the King’s palace. She went to the palace and listened to the women.

‘Has the wet-nurse the Queen sent for come from Aswan?’

‘Yes, my lady, but the child refused her and would not take her milk.’

‘Goodness! What is wrong with this child? This is the sixth person the Queen has tried.’

‘Yes, and they say that she is a very clean nurse and all children take milk from her.’

Musa’s sister heard what was said. Then she said in a polite and friendly way: ‘I know a woman in the town. The child will definitely accept milk from her.’

One woman said: ‘I don’t believe it. We have tried six wet-nurses, but the child has refused.’

Another woman said: ‘Why don’t we try a seventh? Why not?’

The news reached the Queen. She summoned the girl and said: ‘Go and bring this woman.’

‘Musa’s mother came. A serving girl gave Musa to her. The child clung to her and began to accept milk from her as if he had been with her since birth. How could he not have, seeing as she was his own loving mother? How could he not want his own mother’s milk when he had gone hungry for three days?

The Queen and the people of the palace were amazed.

Pharaoh was uneasy. He said: ‘Why did the child accept this woman? Is she his real mother?’

Musa’s mother said: ‘My lord, I am a woman with a good smell, the smell of milk which every child accepts.’

Pharaoh was satisfied with her reply and paid her a


Musa’s mother then returned home with Musa in her arms: So We returned him to his mother so that she might be comforted and not sorrow and so that she might know that the promise of Allah is true, but most people do not know. (28: 13)

Return to Pharaoh’s palace

After Musa was weaned, when he no longer needed his mother’s milk, she returned him to the palace.

Musa grew up in the King’s palace as a prince. That is how awe of kings and the wealthy was removed from his heart. He saw with his own eyes the luxury that Pharaoh and his family enjoyed and how the Israelites were oppressed for the sake of that luxury. He saw too how the Israelites went hungry so that Pharaoh’s animals could eat. He saw how the Israelites were made to work like donkeys; how they were abused and humiliated with the worst possible treatment.

Musa saw these things every day and remained silent. But they angered Musa. How could he not feel anger at the abasement of his people and his family when they were the sons of Prophets and the sons of nobility? What wrong had the Israelites done, except that they were not Copts? Except that they were from Canaan? There was nothing wrong with that!

The fatal blow

Musa became a strong young man, and Allah gave him wisdom and knowledge.

Musa hated injustice. He favoured and sided with the weak and those who had been wronged. Every Prophet is like that.

One day Musa entered Pharaoh’s city where people were busy either working or enjoying themselves. He found there two men fighting, one from the Israelites and the other from the Copts, the enemies of the Israelites.

The Israelite shouted to Musa to help him. Musa, trying to stop the two men fighting, hit the Copt. The Copt died.

Musa was filled with regret, knowing that it had all been Satan’s doing. He turned to Allah in repentance. That is the way of all the Prophets. He said: ‘This is from Satan’s doing. He is a dear, misguiding enemy.’ (28: 15)

Allah turned to Musa because he had not meant to kill the Copt. Musa praised Allah and said: ‘Allah has blessed me and forgiven me. I will never help wrongdoers.’ (28: 17)

The dead Copt was one of Pharaoh’s servants, and the guards were searching for his slayer. Musa was fearful and watchful, not knowing when Pharaoh’s guards would come for him. He feared being caught and taken before the tyrant.

The dead man became the talk of the town. Everyone was talking about it, but no-one knew who had slain him. Only Musa and the Israelite knew who had done it. Pharaoh was furious about the death of his servant and told his guards that they must find the man responsible.

The secret disclosed

The next day, Musa again saw the same Israelite in a fight with another Copt. The Israelite again cried out to Musa to help him.

Musa said: ‘You are an impudent man. Here you are, still fighting and quarrelling with people. Shall I help you again? You are dearly a quarrelsome person.’ (28:18)

All the same, Musa wanted to stop the two men fighting and started towards them. However, the Israelite, seeing Musa’s anger and hearing himself blamed, was afraid that Musa was about to strike him such as he had struck the Copt the previous day, and so he blurted out: ‘Musa, do you want to kill me as you killed a man yesterday? You only mean to be a tyrant in the land. You do not want to be one of those who put things right.’ (28: 19)

Then the Copt ran away to tell the guards. When the news reached Pharaoh, he was angry. He said: ‘Is this the boy who was our foster-child in the palace, the infant who was brought up by the Queen!’

Musa had not meant to kill the Copt. However Pharaoh and his guards would not take that into account, nor would they accept any excuse from Musa. Allah wanted to rescue Musa from Pharaoh’s evil and his guards: Allah had decreed that Pharaoh would lose his kingdom, and the Israelites would be rescued, through Musa. Allah had decreed that Musa would bring people out of the worship of slaves (of Allah) into the worship of Allah the Exalted. How could that happen if the tyrant’s guards were to lay their hand’s on him?

Pharaoh’s ministers held a council and decided to have Musa put to death. A man, hearing of this went to Musa and told him the news: ‘Depart! I am a sincere adviser to you.’ (28: 20)

Musa accepted this advice and hurried from the city. He left there in fear and watchfulness, saying, ‘My Lord, deliver me from the unjust people!’ (28: 21)

From Egypt to Midian

Where could Musa go when all of Egypt was Pharaoh’s kingdom and Pharaoh’s guards were everywhere?

Allah revealed to Musa to go to Midian, an Arab land, where Pharaoh’s power did not reach. Midian was mostly desert and villages. It did not have the civilization, the castles and markets, of Egypt. But it was a happy land because it was far from Pharaoh and free of his tyrannical power.

How wonderful desert life is when it offers freedom and justice! How miserable civilization is when it offers slavery and abasement! No-one in Midian woke up in fear of the force and power of Pharaoh. No-one went to bed in Midian in fear of Pharaoh’s guards or his evil.

Musa left Egypt in fear, watchful in case anyone pursued him. But the guards did not know he had left Egypt. He left in the name of Allah, calling on Allah for help. As he headed towards Midian, he said: ‘It may be that my Lord will guide me on the right way.’ (28: 22)

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