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Family Tree of Prophets

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Bible Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Bible Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him) (part 1 of 4): Witnesses of Scholars

Preliminary Issues

The Bible is the sacred scripture of Judaism and Christianity.  The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament, with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Old Testament being slightly larger because of their acceptance of certain books not accepted as scripture by Protestants.  The Jewish Bible includes only the books known to Christians as the Old Testament.  Furthermore, the arrangements of the Jewish and Christian canons differ considerably.[1]  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been prophesized in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Jesus and the Apostles are believed to have spoken Aramaic.  Aramaic continued in wide use until about AD 650, when it was supplanted by Arabic.[2]  The present day Bible is not, however, based on the Aramaic manuscripts, but on Greek and Latin versions.

Quoting the Bible prophecies does not entail that Muslims accept the present day Bible in its entirety as God’s revelation.  For the Islamic belief on previous scriptures, please click here.

It is not a pre-condition of acceptance that a prophet be foretold by an earlier prophet.  Moses was a prophet to Pharaoh even though he was not prophesized by anyone before him.  Abraham was God’s prophet to Nimrod, yet no one prophesized his coming.  Noah, Lot, and others were true prophets of God, yet they were not foretold.  The evidence of a prophet’s truth is not limited to old prophecies, but it includes the actual message brought by him, miracles and more.

Discussing prophecies is a delicate matter.  It requires sifting through Bible versions and translations, recently discovered manuscripts and searching out Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic words and investigating them.  The task becomes especially difficult when: “prior to the printing press (15th century), all copies of Bibles show textual variations.”[3]  This is not an easy subject for lay people.  For this reason, the best testimony comes from ancient and modern experts in the area who acknowledged the prophecies.

We have records of early Jews and Christians, both monks and rabbis, who witnessed that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the fulfillment of specific Bible prophecies.  The following are some examples of these people.

The Awaited Prophet

Pre-Islam Jews and Christians of Arabia were awaiting a prophet.  Before the appearance of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Arabia was home to Jews, Christians, and pagan Arabs who, on occasion, went to war with each other.  The Jews and Christians would say: “The time has come for the unlettered prophet to appear who will revive the religion of Abraham.  We will join his ranks and wage fierce war against you.”  When Muhammad (peace be upon him) actually appeared, some of them believed in him, and some refused.  This is why God revealed:

“And when there came to them a Book [Quran] from God confirming that which was with them – although before they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieved – but [then] when there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it; so the curse of God will be upon the disbelievers.” (Quran 2:89)

The first witness was Buhaira, the Christian monk, who recognized Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s prophethood when he was still young and told his uncle:

“…a great fortune lies before your nephew, so take him home quickly.”[4]

The second witness was Waraqah ibn Nawfal, a Christian scholar who died soon after a solitary meeting with Muhammad (peace be upon him).  Waraqah attested Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the Prophet of his time and received revelation exactly like Moses and Jesus.[5]

The Jews of Medina were anxiously awaiting the arrival of a prophet.  The third and fourth witnesses were their two famous Jewish rabbis, Abdullah ibn Salam and Mukhayriq.[6]

The sixth and seventh witnesses were also Yemeni Jewish rabbis, Wahb ibn Munabbih, and Ka’b al-Ahbar (d. 656 CE).  Ka’b found long passages of praise and the description of the Prophet prophesized  by Moses in the Bible.[7]

The Quran states:

“Is it not a sign to them that the learned men of the Children of Israel knew it (as true)?” (Quran 26:197)
Footnotes:

[1] “Bible.”  Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9079096)

[2] “Aramaic language.”  Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9009190)

[3] “biblical literature.”  Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-73396)

[4] ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him): His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings, p. 29. ‘Sirat Rasul Allah’ by Ibn Ishaq translated by A. Guillame, p. 79-81. ‘The Quran And The Gospels: A Comparative Study,’ p. 46 by Dr. Muhammad (peace be upon him) Abu Laylah of Azhar University.

[5] ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him): His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings, p. 35.

[6] ‘The Quran And The Gospels: A Comparative Study,’ p. 47 by Dr. Muhammad (peace be upon him) Abu Laylah of Azhar University.

[7] ‘The Quran And The Gospels: A Comparative Study,’ p. 47-48 by Dr. Muhammad (peace be upon him) Abu Laylah of Azhar University.

Bible Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him) (part 2 of 4): Old Testament Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Deuteronomy 18:18  “I (God) will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.”

Many Christians believe this prophecy foretold by Moses to be in regards to Jesus.  Indeed Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament, but as will be clear, this prophecy does not befit him, but rather is more deserving of Muhammad (peace be upon him), may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.  Moses foretold the following:

1. The Prophet Will Be Like Moses

Areas of Comparison Moses Jesus Muhammad (peace be upon him)
Birth normal birth miraculous, virgin birth normal birth
Mission prophet only said to be Son of God prophet only
Parents father & mother mother only father & mother
Family Life married with children never married married with children
Acceptance by own people Jews accepted him Jews rejected him[1] Arabs accepted him
Political Authority Moses had it (Num 15:36) Jesus refused it[2] Muhammad (peace be upon him) had it
Victory Over Opponents Pharaoh drowned said to be crucified Meccans defeated
Death natural death claimed to be crucified natural death
Burial buried in grave empty tomb buried in grave
Divinity not divine divine to Christians not divine
Began Mission at age 40 30 40
Resurrection on Earth not resurrected resurrection claimed not resurrected

2. The Awaited Prophet will be from the Brethren of the Jews

The verse in discussion is explicit in saying that the prophet will come amongst the Brethren of the Jews.  Abraham had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac.  The Jews are the descendants of Isaac’s son, Jacob.  The Arabs are the children of Ishmael.  Thus, the Arabs are the brethren of the Jewish nation.[3] The Bible affirms:

‘And he (Ishmael) shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ (Genesis 16:12)

‘And he (Ishmael) died in the presence of all his brethren.’ (Genesis 25:18)

The children of Isaac are the brethren of the Ishmaelites.  Likewise, Muhammad (peace be upon him) is from among the brethren of the Israelites, because he was a descendant of Ishmael the son of Abraham.

3. God Will Put His Words in the Mouth of the Awaited Prophet

The Quran says of Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“Neither does he speak out of his own desire: that [which he conveys to you] is but [a divine] inspiration with which he is being inspired.” (Quran 53:3-4)

This is quite similar to the verse in Deuteronomy 18:18:

“I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee,and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) came with a message to the whole world, and from them, the Jews.  All, including the Jews, must accept his prophethood, and this is supported by the following words:

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

4. A Warning to Rejecters

The prophecy continues:

Deuteronomy 18:19  “And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require [it] of him.” (in some translations: “I will be the Revenger”).

Interestingly, Muslims begin every chapter of the Quran in the name of God by saying:

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem

“‘In the Name of God, the Most-Merciful, the Dispenser of Grace.”

The following is the account of some scholars who believed this prophecy to fit Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The First Witness

Abdul-Ahad Dawud, the former Rev.  David Benjamin Keldani, BD, a Roman Catholic priest of the Uniate-Chaldean sect (read his biography here).  After accepting Islam, he wrote the book, ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Bible.’  He writes about this prophecy:

“If these words do not apply to Muhammad (peace be upon him), they still remain unfulfilled.  Jesus himself never claimed to be the prophet alluded to.  Even his disciples were of the same opinion: they looked to the second coming of Jesus for the fulfillment of the prophecy (Acts 3: 17-24).  So far it is undisputed that the first coming of Jesus was not the advent of the Prophet like unto thee and his second advent can hardly fulfill the words.  Jesus, as is believed by his Church, will appear as a Judge and not as a law-giver; but the promised one has to come with a “fiery law” in his right hand.”[4]

The Second Witness

Muhammad Asad was born Leopold Weiss in July 1900 in the city of Lvov (German Lemberg), now in Poland, then part of the Austrian Empire.  He was the descendant of a long line of rabbis, a line broken by his father, who became a barrister.  Asad himself received a thorough religious education that would qualify him to keep alive the family’s rabbinical tradition.  He had become proficient in Hebrew at an early age and was also familiar with Aramaic.  He had studied the Old Testament in the original as well as the text and commentaries of the Talmud, the Mishna and Gemara, and he had delved into the intricacies of Biblical exegesis, the Targum.[5]

Commenting on the verse of the Quran:

“and do not overlay the truth with falsehood, and do not knowingly suppress the truth” (Quran 2:42)

Muhammad Asad writes:

“By ‘overlaying the truth with falsehood’ is meant the corrupting of the biblical text, of which the Quran frequently accuses the Jews (and which has since been established by objective textual criticism), while the ‘suppression of the truth’ refers to their disregard or deliberately false interpretation of the words of Moses in the biblical passage, ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken’ (Deuteronomy 18:15), and the words attributed to God himself, ‘I will raise them up a prophet from among thy brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth’ (Deuteronomy 18:18).  The ‘brethren’ of the children of Israel are obviously the Arabs, and particularly the musta’ribah (‘Arabianized’) group among them, which traces its descent to Ishmael and Abraham: and since it is this group that the Arabian Prophet’s own tribe, the Quraish, belonged, the above biblical passages must be taken as referring to his advent.”[6]
Footnotes:

[1] “He (Jesus) came unto his own, but his own received him not” (John 1:11)

[2] John 18:36.

[3] ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him): His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings, p. 1-7.

[4] Ibid, p. 156

[5] ‘Berlin to Makkah: Muhammad Asad’s Journey into Islam’ by Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab in the January/February 2002 issue of Saudi Aramco Magazine.

[6] Muhammad Asad, ‘The Message of The Quran’ (Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, 1984), p. 10-11.

Bible Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him) (part 3 of 4): New Testament Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him)

John 14:16  “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (American Standard Version)

In this verse, Jesus promises that another “Comforter” will appear, and thus, we must discuss some issues concerning this “Comforter.”

The Greek word paravklhtoß, ho parakletos, has been translated as ‘Comforter.’  Parakletos more precisely means ‘one who pleads another’s cause, an intercessor.’[1]  The ho parakletos is a person in the Greek language, not an incorporeal entity.  In the Greek language, every noun possesses gender; that is, it is masculine, feminine or neutral.  In the Gospel of John, Chapters 14, 15 and 16 the ho parakletos is actually a person.  All pronouns in Greek must agree in gender with the word to which they refer and the pronoun “he” is used when referring to the parakletos.  The NT uses the word pneuma, which means “breath” or “spirit,” the Greek equivalent of ruah, the Hebrew word for “spirit” used in the OT.  Pneuma is a grammatically neutral word and is always represented by the pronoun “it.”

All present day Bibles are compiled from “ancient manuscripts,” the oldest dating back to the fourth century C.E.  No two ancient manuscripts are identical.[2]  All Bibles today are produced by combining manuscripts with no single definitive reference.  The Bible translators attempt to “choose” the correct version.  In other words, since they do not know which “ancient manuscript” is the correct one, they decide for us which “version” for a given verse to accept.  Take John 14:26 as an example.  John 14:26 is the only verse of the Bible which associates the Parakletos with the Holy Spirit.  But the “ancient manuscripts” are not in agreement that the “Parakletos” is the ‘Holy Spirit.’  For instance, the famous Codex Syriacus, written around the fifth century C.E., and discovered in 1812 on Mount Sinai, the text of 14:26 reads; “Paraclete, the Spirit”; and not “Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.”

Why is it important?  It is significant because in biblical language a “spirit,” simply means “a prophet.”

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”[3]

It is instructive to know that several biblical scholars considered parakletosto be an ‘independent salvific (having the power to save) figure,’ not the Holy Ghost.[4]

The question, then, is: was Jesus’ parakletos, Comforter, a ‘Holy Ghost’ or a person – a prophet – to come after him?  To answer the question, we must understand the description of ho parakletos and see if it fits a ghost or a human being.

When we continue reading beyond chapter 14:16 and chapter 16:7, we find that Jesus predicts the specific details of the arrival and identity of theparakletos.  Therefore, according to the context of John 14 & 16 we discover the following facts.

1. Jesus said the parakletos is a human being:

John 16:13 “He will speak.”

John 16:7 “…for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.”

It is impossible that the Comforter be the “Holy Ghost” because the Holy Ghost was present long before Jesus and during his ministry.[5]

John 16:13 Jesus referred to the paraclete as ‘he’ and not ‘it’ seven times, no other verse in the Bible contains seven masculine pronouns.  Therefore,paraclete is a person, not a ghost.

2. Jesus is called a parakletos:

“And if any man sin, we have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

Here we see that parakletos is a physical and human intercessor.

3.      The Divinity of Jesus a later innovation

Jesus was not accepted as divine until the Council of Nicea, 325 CE, but everyone, except Jews, agree he was a prophet of God, as indicated by the Bible:

Matthew 21:11 “…This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”

Luke 24:19 “…Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.”

4. Jesus prayed to God for another parakletos:

John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another parakletos.”
Footnotes:

[1] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

[2] “Besides the larger discrepancies, such as these, there is scarcely a verse in which there is not some variation of phrase in some copies [of the ancient manuscripts from which the Bible has been collected]. No one can say that these additions or omissions or alterations are matters of mere indifference.”  ‘Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts,’ by Dr. Frederic Kenyon, Eyre and Spottiswoode, p. 3.

[3] 1 John 4: 1-3

[4] ‘…Christian tradition has identified this figure (Paraclete) as the Holy Spirit, but scholars like Spitta, Delafosse, Windisch, Sasse, Bultmann, and Betz have doubted whether this identification is true to the original picture and have suggested that the Paraclete was once an independent salvific figure, later confused with the Holy Spirit.”  ‘the Anchor Bible, Doubleday & Company, Inc, Garden City, N.Y. 1970, Volume 29A, p. 1135.

[5] Genesis 1: 2, 1 Samuel 10: 10, 1 Samuel 11: 6, Isaiah 63: 11, Luke 1: 15, Luke 1: 35, Luke 1: 41, Luke 1: 67, Luke 2: 25, Luke 2: 26, Luke 3:22, John 20: 21-22.

Bible Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him) (part 4 of 4): More New Testament Prophecies of Muhammad (peace be upon him)

5. Jesus describes the function of the other Parakletos:

John 16:13 “He will guide you into all the truth.”

God says in the Quran of Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“O mankind!  The Messenger has now come unto you with the truth from your Lord: believe, then, for your own good!…” (Quran 4:170)

John 16:14 “He will glorify Me.”

The Quran brought by Muhammad (peace be upon him) glorifies Jesus:

“…who shall become known as the Christ Jesus, son of Mary, of great honor in this world and in the life to come, and [shall be] of those who are drawn near unto God.” (Quran 3:45)

Muhammad (peace be upon him) also glorified Jesus:

“Whoever testifies that none deserves worship except God, who has no partner, and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger, and that Jesus is the servant of God, His Messenger, and His Word which He bestowed in Mary, and a spirit created from Him, and that Paradise is true, and that Hell is true, God will admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

John 16:8 “he will convince the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.”

The Quran announces:

“Indeed, they have disbelieved who say, ‘God is the Christ, son of Mary’ – seeing that the Christ [himself] said, ‘O Children of Israel!  Worship God [alone], who is my Lord as well as your Lord.’ ‘Indeed, whoever ascribes divinity to any being beside God, unto him will God deny paradise, and his goal shall be the fire: and there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers!’” (Quran 5:72)

John 16:13 “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak.”

The Quran says of Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“Neither does he speak out of his own desire: that [which he conveys to you] is but [a divine] inspiration with which he is being inspired.” (Quran 53:3-4)

John 14:26 “and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The words of the Quran:

“…while the Messiah had said, ‘O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’” (Quran 5:72)

…reminds people of the first and greatest command of Jesus they have forgotten:

“The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.’” (Mark 12:29)

John 16:13 “and He will disclose to you what is to come.”

The Quran states:

“That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal, [O Muhammad (peace be upon him)], to you…” (Quran 12:102)

Hudhaifa, a disciple of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), tells us:

“The Prophet once delivered a speech in front of us wherein he left nothing but mentioned everything that would happen till the Hour (of Judgment).” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

John 14:16 “that he may abide with you for ever.”

…meaning his original teachings will remain forever.  Muhammad (peace be upon him) was God’s last prophet to humanity.[1]  His teachings are perfectly preserved.  He lives in the hearts and minds of his adoring followers who worship God in his exact imitation.  No man, including Jesus or Muhammad (peace be upon him), has an eternal life on earth.  Parakletos is not an exception either.  This cannot be an allusion to the Holy Ghost, for present day creed of the Holy Ghost did not exist until the Council of Chalcedon, in 451 CE, four and half centuries after Jesus.

John 14:17 “he will be the spirit of truth”

…meaning he will be true prophet, see 1 John 4: 1-3.

John 14:17 “the world neither sees him…”

Many people in the world today do not know Muhammad (peace be upon him).

John 14:17 “…nor knows him”

Fewer people recognize the real Muhammad (peace be upon him), God’s Prophet of Mercy.

John 14:26 “the Advocate (parakletos)”

Muhammad (peace be upon him) will be the advocate of humanity at large and of sinful believers on Judgment Day:

People will look for those who can intercede on their behalf to God to reduce the distress and suffering on Day of Judgment.  Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus will excuse themselves.

Then they will come to our Prophet and he will say, “I am the one who is able.”  So he will intercede for the people in the Great Plain of Gathering, so judgment may be passed.  This is the ‘Station of Praise’ God promises Him in the Quran:

“…It may be that your Lord will raise you to Station of Praise (the honor of intercession on the Day of Resurrection)” (Quran 17:79)[2]

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“My intercession will be for those of my nation who committed major sins.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

“I shall be the first intercessor in Paradise.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Some Muslim scholars suggest what Jesus actually said in Aramaic represents more closely the Greek word periklytos which means the ‘admired one.’ In Arabic the word ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him)’ means the ‘praiseworthy, admired one.’ In other words, periklytos is “Muhammad (peace be upon him)” in Greek.  We have two strong reasons in its support.  First, due to several documented cases of similar word substitution in the Bible, it is quite possible that both words were contained in the original text but were dropped by a copyist because of the ancient custom of writing words closely packed, with no spaces in between.  In such a case the original reading would have been, “and He will give you another comforter (parakletos), the admirable one (periklytos).”  Second, we have the reliable testimony of at least four Muslim authorities from different eras who ascribed ‘admired, praised one’ as a possible meaning of the Greek or Syriac word to Christians scholars.[3]

The following are some who attest that the Paraclete is indeed an allusion to Muhammad (peace be upon him), may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him:

The First Witness

Anselm Turmeda (1352/55-1425 CE), a priest and Christian scholar, was a witness to the prophecy.  After accepting Islam he wrote a book, “Tuhfat al-arib fi al-radd ‘ala Ahl al-Salib.”

The Second Witness

Abdul-Ahad Dawud, the former Rev. David Abdu Benjamin Keldani, BD, a Roman Catholic priest of the Uniate-Chaldean sect.[4]  After accepting Islam, he wrote the book, ‘Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Bible.’  He writes in this book:

“There is not the slightest doubt that by “Periqlyte,” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), i.e. Ahmad, is intended.”

The Third Witness

A synopsis of the life of Muhammad Asad has already been given above.  Commenting on the verse:

“…an apostle who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad” (Quran 61:6)

…where Jesus predicts the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Asad explains that the word Parakletos:

“…is almost certainly a corruption of Periklytos (‘the Much-Praised’), an exact Greek translation of the Aramaic term or name Mawhamana.  (It is to be borne in mind that Aramaic was the language used in Palestine at the time of, and for some centuries after, Jesus and was thus undoubtedly the language in which the original – now lost – texts of the Gospels were composed.) In view of the phonetic closeness of Periklytos and Parakletos it is easy to understand how the translator – or, more probably, a later scribe – confused these two expressions.  It is significant that both the Aramaic Mawhamana and the Greek Periklytos have the same meaning as the two names of the Last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Ahmad, both of which are derived from the Hebrew verb hamida (‘he praised’) and the Hebrew noun hamd (‘praise’).”
Footnotes:

[1] Quran 33:40.

[2] See also Saheeh Al-Bukhari

[3] ‘Sirat Rasul Allah,’ by Ibn Ishaq (85-151 CE)p, 103.  ‘Bayn al-Islam wal-Masihiyya: Kitab ‘Abi Ubaida al-Khazraji ,’ p. 220-221 by Abu Ubaida al-Khazraji (1146-1187 CE) p. 220-221.  ‘Hidaya tul-Hayara,’ by Ibn ul-Qayyim, p. 119. ‘al-Riyadh al-Aniqa,’ by al-Suyuti, p. 129.

[4] Read his biography here: (http://www.Muhammad (peace be upon him).net/biblelp/bio_keldani.html.)

Source: http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/200/viewall/

The Story of Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary]

Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary] (part 1 of 5): Muslims Love Isa (as) [Jesus] too!

Christians often talk about developing a relationship with Christ and accepting him into their lives.  They assert that Isa (as) [Jesus] is much more than a man and died on the cross to free mankind from the original sin.  Christians speak of Isa (as) [Jesus] with love and respect, and it is obvious he holds a special place in their lives and hearts.  But what about Muslims; what do they think about Isa (as) [Jesus] and what place does Isa (as) [Jesus] Christ hold in Islam?

Someone unfamiliar with Islam may be surprised to learn that Muslims love Isa (as) [Jesus] too.  A Muslim will not speak the name of Isa (as) [Jesus] without respectfully adding the words “may peace be upon him”.  In Islam, Isa (as) [Jesus] is a loved and esteemed man, a Prophet and Messenger calling his people to the worship of the One True God.

Muslims and Christians share some very similar beliefs about Isa (as) [Jesus].  Both believe that Isa (as) [Jesus] was born of the Virgin Maryam (as) [Mary] and both believe that Isa (as) [Jesus] was the Messiah sent to the people of Israel.  Both also believe that Isa (as) [Jesus] will return to earth in the last  days.  However in one major detail they are worlds apart.  Muslims believe with certainty that Isa (as) [Jesus] is not God, he is not the son of God and he is not part of a Trinity of God.

In the Quran, God spoke directly to Christians when He said:

“O people of the Scripture!  Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of God aught but the truth.  The Messiah Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], was a Messenger of God and His Word, which He bestowed on Maryam (as) [Mary] and a spirit created by Him; so believe in God and His Messengers.  Say not: ‘Trinity!’  Cease;  it is better for you!  For God is One God, glory is to Him, Far Exalted is He above having a son.  To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.  And God is All Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs.” (Quran 4:171)

Just as Islam categorically denies that Isa (as) [Jesus] was God, it also rejects the notion that mankind is born tainted by any form of original sin.  The Quran tells us that it is not possible for one person to bear the sins of another and that we are all responsible, before God, for our own actions.  “And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden.” (Quran 35:18)  However, God, in His infinite Mercy and Wisdom has not abandoned mankind to their own devices.  He has sent guidance and laws that reveal how to worship and live according to His commands.  Muslims are required to believe in, and love all of the Prophets; to reject one is to reject the creed of Islam.  Isa (as) [Jesus] was but one in this long line of Prophets and Messengers, calling the people to worship One God.  He came specifically to the People of Israel, who had at that time gone astray from the straight path of God.  Isa (as) [Jesus] said:

“And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Torah, and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord.  So fear God and obey me.  Truly!  God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him.  This is the Straight Path.”  (Quran 3:50-51)

Muslims love and admire Isa (as) [Jesus]. However, we understand him and his role in our lives according to the Quran and the narrations and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.  Three chapters of the Quran feature the life of Isa (as) [Jesus], his mother Maryam (as) [Mary] and their family; each reveals details not found in the Bible.

The Prophet Mohammad spoke of Isa (as) [Jesus] many times, once describing him as his brother.

“I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Maryam (as) [Mary], and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Isa (as) [Jesus]).” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

Let us follow the story of Isa (as) [Jesus] through Islamic sources and come to understand how and why his place in Islam is of such significance.

The First Miracle

The Quran informs us that Maryam (as) [Mary], the daughter of Imran, was an unmarried, chaste and pious young woman devoted to the worship of God.  One day while she was in seclusion, the Angel Gabriel came to Maryam (as) [Mary] and informed her that she was to be the mother of Isa (as) [Jesus].  Her response was one of fear, shock, and dismay.  God said:

“And We wish to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a matter decreed.” (Quran 19:21)

Maryam (as) [Mary] conceived Isa (as) [Jesus], and when the time came for him to be born, she took herself away from her family and travelled towards Bethlehem.  At the foot of a date palm tree Maryam (as) [Mary] gave birth to her son Isa (as) [Jesus].[1]

When Maryam (as) [Mary] had rested and recovered from the pain and fear involved in giving birth alone, she realised that she must return to her family.  Maryam (as) [Mary] was afraid and anxious as she wrapped the child and cradled him in her arms.  How could she possibly explain his birth to her people?  She heeded the words of God and made her way back to Jerusalem.

“Say: ‘Verily!  I have vowed a fast unto the Most Gracious (God) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.’”  Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him.” (Quran 19:26-27)

God knew that if Maryam (as) [Mary] tried to offer explanations, her people would not believe her. So, in His wisdom, he told her not to speak.  From the first moment Maryam (as) [Mary] approached her people they started to accuse her, but she wisely followed God’s instructions and refused to respond.  This shy, chaste woman merely pointed to the child in her arms.

The men and women surrounding Maryam (as) [Mary] looked at her incredulously and demanded to know how they could possibly speak to a babe in arms.  Then, by the permission of God, Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], still a babe, performed his first miracle.  He spoke:

“Verily!  I am a slave of God.  He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; and He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined  on me prayer, and alms, as long as I live, and dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest.  And peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (Quran 19:30-34)

Muslims believe Isa (as) [Jesus] was the slave of God and a Messenger sent to the Israelites of his time.  He preformed miracles by the will and permission of God.  The following words of Prophet Muhammad clearly summarise the importance of Isa (as) [Jesus] in Islam:

“Whoever bears witness that there is no god but God Alone, with no partner or associate, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, and that Isa (as) [Jesus] is His slave and Messenger, a word which God bestowed upon Maryam (as) [Mary] and a spirit created by Him, and that Heaven is real, and Hell is real, God will admit him through whichever of the eight gates of Heaven he wishes.”  (Saheeh Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim)
Footnotes:

[1] For details of his miraculous conception and birth, please refer to the articles on Maryam (as) [Mary]

Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary] (part 2 of 5): The Message of Isa (as) [Jesus]

We have already established that Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], or as he is called by Muslims, Eissa ibn Maryam (as) [Mary]am, performed his first miracle while cradled in Maryam (as) [Mary]’s arms.  By the permission of God he spoke, and his first words were “I am a slave of God,” (Quran 19:30).  He did not say “I am God” or even “I am the son of God”.  His first words established the foundation of his message, and his mission: to call the people back, to the pure worship of One God.

At the time of Isa (as) [Jesus], the concept of One God was not new to the Children of Israel.  The Torah had proclaimed “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One,” (Deuteronomy: 4).  However, God’s revelations had been misinterpreted and abused, and hearts had become hardened.  Isa (as) [Jesus] came to denounce the leaders of the Children of Israel, who had fallen into lives of materialism and luxury, and to uphold the law of Moses found in the Torah which they had even changed.

Isa (as) [Jesus]’ mission was to confirm the Torah, to make lawful things that were previously unlawful and to proclaim and reaffirm the belief in One Creator.  Prophet Muhammad said:

“Every Prophet was sent to his nation exclusively, but I was sent to all mankind,” (Saheeh Buhw-hkhari).

Thus, Isa (as) [Jesus] was sent to the Israelites.

God says in Quran that He would teach Isa (as) [Jesus] the Torah, the Gospel and theWisdom.

“And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom, the Torah and the Injeel.” (Quran 3:48)

In order to effectively spread his message, Isa (as) [Jesus] understood the Torah, and he was provided with his own revelation from God – the Injeel, or Gospel.  God also endowed Isa (as) [Jesus] with the ability to guide and influence his people with signs and miracles.

God supports all of His Messengers with miracles that are observable and make sense to the people the Messenger has been sent to guide.  At the time of Isa (as) [Jesus], the Israelites were very knowledgeable in the field of medicine.  Consequently, the miracles Isa (as) [Jesus] performed (by the permission of God) were of this nature and included returning sight to the blind, healing lepers and raising the dead.  God said:

“And you heal those born blind and the lepers by My leave.  And behold!  You bring forth the dead by My leave.” (Quran 5:10)

The Child Isa (as) [Jesus]

Neither the Quran nor the Bible refers to the boyhood of Isa (as) [Jesus].  We can imagine, however, that as a son in the family of Imran, he was a pious child devoted to learning and eager to influence the children and adults around him.  After mentioning Isa (as) [Jesus] speaking in the cradle, the Quran immediately recounts the story of Isa (as) [Jesus] moulding the figure of a bird from clay.  He blew into it and by God’s leave it became a bird.

“I design for you out of clay, as it were the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s Leave.” (Quran 3:49)

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, one of a set of texts written by early  Christians but  not accepted into the tenet of the Old Testament, also refers to this story.  It recounts in some detail the story of the young Isa (as) [Jesus] fashioning birds from clay and breathing life into them.  Although fascinating, Muslims believe the message of Isa (as) [Jesus] only as it is recounted in the Quran and the narrations of Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims are required to believe in all the books revealed by God to mankind. However, the Bible, as it exists today, is not the Gospel that was revealed to Prophet Isa (as) [Jesus].  The words and wisdom of God given to Isa (as) [Jesus] have been lost, hidden, changed and distorted.  The fate of the texts of the Apocrypha of which the Infancy Gospel of Thomas is one is testament to this.  In 325AD, the Emperor Constantine attempted to unify the fractured Christian Church by calling a meeting of Bishops from all over the known world.  This meeting became known as the Council of Nicaea, and its legacy was a doctrine of Trinity, previously inexistent, and the loss of somewhere between 270 and 4000 gospels.  The council ordered the burning of all gospels not deemed worthy to be in the new Bible, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas was one of them.[1] However, copies of many Gospels survived, and, although not in the Bible, are valued for their historical significance.

The Quran Frees Us

Muslims believe that Isa (as) [Jesus] did indeed receive revelation from God, but he did not write down one single word, nor did he instruct his disciples to write it down.[2]  There is no need for a Muslim to try to prove or disprove the books of the Christians.  The Quran frees us from the need to know if the Bible we have today contains the word of God, or the words of Isa (as) [Jesus].  God said:

“It is He Who has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what came before it.” (Quran 3:3)

And also:

“And We have sent down to you the Book in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and dominant over it.  So judge among them by what God has revealed.” (Quran 5:48)

Anything beneficial for Muslims to know from the Torah or the Injeel is stated clearly in the Quran.  Whatever good maybe found in the previous books is found now in the Quran.[3]  If the words of today’s New Testament agree with the words of the Quran, then these words probably form the part of Isa (as) [Jesus]’ message that did not become distorted or lost over time.  The message of Isa (as) [Jesus] was the same message that all the Prophets of God taught to their people.  The Lord your God is One, so worship Him alone.  And God said in the Quran about the story of Isa (as) [Jesus]:

“Verily!  This is the true narrative and, none has the right to be worshipped but God, the One and the Only True God, Who has neither a wife nor a son.  And indeed, God is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Quran 3:62)
Footnotes:

[1] Misha’al ibn Abdullah, What did Isa (as) [Jesus] really say?

[2] Sheikh Ahmad Deedat.  Is the Bible God’s word?

[3] Sheikh-‘Uthaymeen Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il Fadeelat vol. 1, p. 32-33

Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary] (part 3 of 5): The Disciples

Chapter 5 of the Quran is named Al Maidah (or The Table Spread with Food).  It is one of three chapters in the Quran that deal extensively with the life of Isa (as) [Jesus] and his mother Maryam (as) [Mary].  The other chapters are chapter 3 Aali Imran (The Family of Imran) and chapter 19, Maryam (as) [Mary]am (Maryam (as) [Mary]).  Muslims love Isa (as) [Jesus] and honour his mother, but they do not worship them.  The Quran, which Muslims believe to be the direct words of God, holds Isa (as) [Jesus] and his Mother Maryam (as) [Mary], and indeed their whole family – the family of Imran, in very high regard.

We know that Isa (as) [Jesus] lived amongst his people the Israelites for many years, calling them back to the worship of the One True God and performing miracles by the permission of God.  Most of those around him rejected his call and failed to heed his message.  However, Isa (as) [Jesus] had gathered around him a group of companions called Al Hawariyeen (the disciples of Isa (as) [Jesus]) in Arabic.

God said in the Quran:

“I (God) put in the hearts of Al-Hawariyeen to believe in Me and My Messenger, they said: ‘We believe.  And bear witness that we are Muslims.’” (Quran 5:111)

The disciples referred to themselves as Muslims;  how could this be when the religion of Islam would not be revealed for another 600 years?  God must be referring to the general meaning of “Muslim”. A Muslim is anybody who submits to the One God and His obedience, and anybody whose allegiance and loyalty is to God and the believers above all else.  The word Muslim and Islam come from the same Arabic root – sa la ma – and that is because peace and security (Salam) is inherent in one’s submission to God.  Thus it can be understood that all the Prophets of God and their followers were Muslims.

A Table Spread with Food

Isa (as) [Jesus]’ disciples said to him:

“Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary]!  Can your Lord send down to us a table spread (with food) from heaven?” (Quran 5:112)

Were they asking Isa (as) [Jesus] to perform a miracle?  Did the disciples of Isa (as) [Jesus] who called them selves Muslim feel unsure about the ability of God to provide miracles at will?  It is unlikely, as this would be an act of disbelief.  The disciples of Isa (as) [Jesus] were not asking if it were possible, but rather if Isa (as) [Jesus] would call upon God at that specific time to provide them with food.  However, Isa (as) [Jesus] may have thought otherwise, for he replied:

“Fear God, if you are indeed believers (Muslims).” (Quran 5:112)

When they saw Isa (as) [Jesus]’ reaction, his disciples tried to explain their words.  Initially they said “We wish to eat thereof.

They may have been very hungry and wanting God to satisfy their need.  Asking God to provide us with sustenance is acceptable, for God is the Provider, the One from Whom all provision emanates.  The disciples then went on to say,“and to satisfy our hearts.”

They meant that their faith would become even stronger if they saw a miracle with their own eyes, and this is confirmed by their closing statement. “And to know that you have indeed told us the truth and that we ourselves be its witnesses.

Although mentioned last, being a witness to the truth and seeing the miracles that are its supporting evidence were the most important justifications for their request.  The disciples were asking Prophet Isa (as) [Jesus] to perform this miracle by the leave of God so that they could be witnesses before all of mankind.  The disciples wanted to spread the message of Isa (as) [Jesus] by proclaiming the miracles they witnessed with their own eyes.

“They said: ‘We wish to eat thereof and to satisfy our hearts, and to know that you have indeed told us the truth and that we ourselves be its witnesses.’  Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], said: ‘O God, our Lord!  Send us from heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us – for the first and the last of us – a festival and a sign from You; and provide us sustenance, for You are the Best of sustainers.’” (Quran 5:113-114)

Isa (as) [Jesus] asked for the miracle.  He prayed to God, asking that a table spread with food be sent down.  Isa (as) [Jesus] also asked that it this be for all of them and that it be a festival.  The Arabic word used by Quran is Eid, meaning a festival or celebration that reoccurs.  Isa (as) [Jesus] wanted his disciples and those that came after them to remember the blessings of God and be thankful.

We have much to learn from the supplications made by the Prophets and other righteous believers.  Isa (as) [Jesus]’ supplication was not just for a table spread with food, but for God to provide them with sustenance.  He made it comprehensive because food is but a small part of the sustenance provided by the Best of Sustainers.  Sustenance from God encompasses all the necessary requirements for life including, but not limited to, food, shelter, and knowledge.  God replied:

“I am going to send it down unto you, but if any of you after that disbelieves, then I will punish him with a torment such as I have not inflicted on anyone among (all) the worlds of mankind and jinn.” (Quran 5:115)

Knowledge Equals Responsibility

The reason why God’s response was so absolute is that if one disbelieves after being provided with a sign or miracle from God, it is worse then disbelieving without seeing the miracle.  You may question as to why.  It is because once one has seen the miracle, one has first hand knowledge and understanding of the omnipotence of God.  The more knowledge a person has, the more responsibility he has before God.  When you have seen the signs, the obligation to believe and spread the message of God becomes greater.  God was commanding Isa (as) [Jesus]’ disciples on receiving this table spread with food to be aware of the great responsibility that they had taken upon themselves.

The day of the table did become a feast day and celebration for the disciples and followers of Isa (as) [Jesus], but, as time passed, the real meaning and essence of the miracle was lost.  Eventually Isa (as) [Jesus] came to be worshipped as a god.  On the Day of Resurrection, when all of mankind will stand before God, the disciples will bear the great responsibility of knowing the true message of Isa (as) [Jesus].  God will speak to Isa (as) [Jesus] directly and say:

“O Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary]!  Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as two gods besides God?’  He (Isa (as) [Jesus]) will say: Glory be to You!  It was not for me to say what I had no right.  Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it.  You know what is in my inner self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.  Never did I say to them aught except what You (God) did command me to say: ‘Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’” (Quran 5:116-117)

Those of us who have been blessed with this true message of Isa (as) [Jesus], the same message spread by all of the Prophets including the last prophet, Muhammad, will also bear great responsibility on the Day of Resurrection.

Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary] (part 4 of 5): Did Isa (as) [Jesus] Really Die?

The idea of Isa (as) [Jesus] dying on the cross is central to the Christian belief.  It represents the conviction that Isa (as) [Jesus] died for the sins of mankind.  The crucifixion of Isa (as) [Jesus] is a vital doctrine in Christianity; however Muslims reject it completely.  Before describing what Muslims believe about Isa (as) [Jesus]’ crucifixion, it may be useful to understand the Islamic reaction to the notion of original sin.

When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree in paradise, they were not tempted by a serpent.  It was Satan who deceived and cajoled them, whereupon they exercised their free will and made an error in judgement.  Eve does not bear the burden of this mistake alone.  Together, Adam and Eve realised their disobedience, felt remorse and begged for God’s forgiveness.  God, in his infinite mercy and wisdom, forgave them.  Islam has no concept of original sin; each person bears responsibility for his own deeds.

“And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden”. (Quran 35:18)

There is no need for God, a son of God, or even a Prophet of God to sacrifice himself for mankind’s sins in order to buy forgiveness.  Islam refuses this view entirely.  The foundation of Islam rests on knowing with certainty that nothing should we worshipped but God alone.  Forgiveness emanates from the One True God; so, when a person seeks forgiveness, he must turn to God submissively with true remorse and beg forgiveness, promising not to repeat the sin.  Then and only then will sins be forgiven.

In the light of Islam’s understanding of original sin and forgiveness, we can see that Islam teaches that Isa (as) [Jesus] did not come to atone for the sins of mankind; rather, his purpose was to reaffirm the message of the Prophets before him.

“..  None has the right to be worshipped but God, the One and the Only True God…” (Quran 3:62)

Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion of Isa (as) [Jesus], nor do they believe that he died.

The Crucifixion

Isa (as) [Jesus]’ message was rejected by most of the Israelites as well as the Roman authorities.  Those who believed formed a small band of followers around him, known as the disciples.  The Israelites plotted and conspired against Isa (as) [Jesus] and formulated a plan to have him assassinated.  He was to be executed in public, in a particularly gruesome manner, well known in the Roman Empire: crucifixion.

Crucifixion was considered a shameful way to die, and “citizens” of the Roman Empire were exempt from this punishment. It was designed to not only prolong the agony of death, but to mutilate the body.  The Israelites planned this humiliating death for their Messiah – Isa (as) [Jesus], the messenger of God.  God in his infinite mercy prevented this abominable event by putting the resemblance of Isa (as) [Jesus] on somebody else and elevating Isa (as) [Jesus] alive, body and soul, to heaven.  The Quran is silent about the exact details of just who this person was, but we know and believe with certainty that it was not Prophet Isa (as) [Jesus].

Muslims believe that the Quran and the authentic narrations of Prophet Muhammad contain all the knowledge mankind needs in order to worship and live according to God’s commandments.  Therefore, if small details are not explained, it is because God in His infinite wisdom has judged these details to be of no benefit to us.  The Quran explains, in God’s own words, the conspiracy against Isa (as) [Jesus] and His plan to outwit the Israelites and raise Isa (as) [Jesus] to heaven.

“And they plotted to kill Isa (as) [Jesus] and God planned too.  And God is the Best of the planners.” (Quran 3:54)

“And because of their boasting, “We killed Messiah Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], the Messenger of God.” But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Isa (as) [Jesus] was put over another man, and those who differ therein are full of doubts.  They have no (certain) knowledge; they follow nothing but conjecture.  For surely, they killed him not.  But God raised him (Isa (as) [Jesus]) up unto Himself.  And God is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” (Quran 4:157-158)

Isa (as) [Jesus] Did Not Die

The Israelites and the Roman authorities were not able to harm Isa (as) [Jesus].  God says clearly that He took Isa (as) [Jesus] up to Himself and cleared him of the false statements made in Isa (as) [Jesus]’ name.

“O Isa (as) [Jesus]!  I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you of the forged statement that Isa (as) [Jesus] is God’s son.” (Quran 3:55)

In the previous verse, when God said He “will take” Isa (as) [Jesus], he uses the wordmutawaffeeka.  Without a clear understanding of the richness of the Arabic language, and knowledge of the levels of meaning in many words, it may be possible to misunderstand God’s meaning.  In the Arabic language today the word mutawaffeeka is sometimes used to denote death, or even sleep.  In this verse of Quran, however, the original meaning is used and the comprehensiveness of the word denotes that God raised Isa (as) [Jesus] to himself, completely.  Thus, he was alive at his ascension, body and soul, without any injury or defect.

Muslims believe Isa (as) [Jesus] is not dead, and that he will return to this world in the last days before the Day of Judgement.  Prophet Mohammad said to his companions:

“How will you be when the son of Maryam (as) [Mary], Isa (as) [Jesus] descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Quran and not by the law of Gospel. (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

God reminds us in the Quran that the Day of Judgement is a Day that we cannot avoid and cautions us that the descent of Isa (as) [Jesus] is a sign of its nearness.

“And he, Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary] shall be a known sign for the Hour.  Therefore have no doubt concerning it.  And follow Me!  This is the Straight Path.” (Quran 43:61)

Therefore, the Islamic belief about Isa (as) [Jesus]’ crucifixion and death is clear.  There was a plot to crucify Isa (as) [Jesus] but it did not succeed; Isa (as) [Jesus] did not die, but ascended to heaven.  In the last days leading up to the Day of Judgement, Isa (as) [Jesus] will return to this world and continue his message.

Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary] (part 5 of 5): People of the Book

After reading and understanding what Muslims believe about Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], there may be some questions that come to mind, or issues that need clarification.  You may have read the term “People of the Book” and not been completely clear about what this meant.  Likewise, while exploring the literature available about Isa (as) [Jesus] you could have come across the name Eissa and wondered if Isa (as) [Jesus] and Eissa were the same person.  If you are considering investigating a little further or perhaps reading the Quran, the following points may be of interest.

Who is Eissa?

Eissa is Isa (as) [Jesus].  Perhaps because of the difference in pronunciation, many people may not be aware that when they hear a Muslim talking about Eissa, he is actually talking about Prophet Isa (as) [Jesus].  The spelling of Eissa may take many forms – Isa, Esa, Essa, and Eissa.  The Arabic language is written in Arabic characters, thus any transliteration system tries to reproduce the phonetic sound.  No matter what the spelling, all indicate Isa (as) [Jesus], the Messenger of God.

Isa (as) [Jesus] and his people spoke Aramaic, a language from the Semitic family.  Spoken by more than 300 million people throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, Semitic languages include, among others, Arabic and Hebrew.  The use of the word Eissa is actually a closer translation of the Aramaic word for Isa (as) [Jesus] – Eeshu.  In Hebrew this translates to Yeshua.

Translating the name Isa (as) [Jesus] into non Semitic languages complicated things. There was no “J” in any language until the fourteenth century[1], so consequently, when the name Isa (as) [Jesus]  was translated into Greek, it became Iesous, and in Latin, Iesus[2].  Later, the “I” and “J” were used interchangeably, and finally the name transitioned into English as Isa (as) [Jesus].  The final “S” on the end is indicative of the Greek language where all male names end in “S”.

Aramaic Arabic Hebrew Greek Latin English
Eeshu Eisa Yeshua Iesous Iesus Isa (as) [Jesus]

Who are the People of the Book?

When God refers to the People of the Book, He is talking mainly about the Jews and the Christians.  In the Quran, the Jewish people are called Bani Israeel, literally the Children of Israel, or commonly the Israelites.  These distinctive groups follow, or followed, the revelation of God as it was revealed in the Torah and the Injeel.  You may also hear the Jews and Christians referred to as “the People of the Scripture”.

Muslims believe the divinely revealed books before the Quran have either been lost in antiquity, or changed and distorted, but they also recognize that the true followers of Moses and Isa (as) [Jesus] were Muslims who worshiped One God with true submission.  Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], came to confirm the message of Moses and to guide the Children of Israel back to the straight path.  Muslim’s believe the Jews (Children of Israel) denied Isa (as) [Jesus]’ mission and message, and the Christians incorrectly raised him to the status of a god.

“O people of the Scripture!  Exceed not the limits in your religion other than the truth, and do not follow the vain desires of people who went astray in times gone by, and who misled many, and strayed from the Right Path.” (Quran 5:77)

We have already discussed in previous parts how the Quran deals extensively with Prophet Isa (as) [Jesus] and his mother Maryam (as) [Mary].  However, the Quran also includes many verses where God speaks directly to the People of the Book, particularly those who call themselves Christians.

The Christians and Jews are told not to criticise the Muslims for no reason other than believing in One God, but God also draws attention to the fact that Christians (those who follow Christ’s teaching) and Muslims have much in common, including their love and respect for Isa (as) [Jesus] and all of the Prophets.

“..  and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: ‘We are Christians.’  That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.  And when they listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised.  They say: Our Lord!  We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.” (Quran 5:83)

Like Isa (as) [Jesus] son of Maryam (as) [Mary], the Prophet Muhammad came to confirm the message of all the Prophets before him; he called the people to worship the One God.  His mission, however, was different from the earlier Prophets, (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isa (as) [Jesus] and others) in one respect.  Prophet Muhammad came for all of mankind while the Prophets before him came specifically for their own time and people.  The advent of Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of the Quran completed the religion that had been revealed to the People of the Book.

And God spoke to Prophet Muhammad in the Quran and beseeched him to call to the People of the Book by saying:

“Say O Muhammad ‘O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but God (Alone), and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides God.’” (Quran 3:64)

Prophet Muhammad said to his companions, and thus to all of mankind:

“I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Maryam (as) [Mary], and all the Prophets are brothers and there is none between me and him.”

And also:

“If a man believes in Isa (as) [Jesus] and then believes in me he will get double reward.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

Islam is a religion of peace, respect and tolerance, and it applies a just and compassionate attitude towards other religions, particularly in respect to the People of the Book.
Footnotes:

[1] The Encyclopaedia Americana.

[2] The Oxford English dictionary.

Source: http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1412/viewall/

The Storey of Maryam (as) [Mary], the Mother of Isa (as) [Jesus]

Maryam (as) [Mary], the Mother of Isa (as) [Jesus] (part 1 of 2): Who is Maryam (as) [Mary]?

It may surprise many people to learn that Maryam (as) [Mary] is one of the most esteemed and respected women in Islam and that the Quran gives her great importance.  Maryam (as) [Mary]am is the name of chapter 19 of the Quran, and Chapter 3 is Aali Imran, named after her family.  Islam holds the entire family of Imran in very high regard.  The Quran tells us that:

“God chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of Imran over all others of world’s of mankind and jinn.” (Quran 3:33)

God choose Adam and Noah individually, but He chose the family of Abraham and the family of Imran.

“Offspring of one another.” (Quran 3:34)

The family of Imran are from the descendents of Abraham, the family of Abraham are from the descendants of Noah and Noah is from the descendents of Adam.  The family of Imran also includes many people known and respected in the Christian traditions – Prophets Zachary and John (known as the Baptist), Prophet and Messenger Isa (as) [Jesus] and his mother, Maryam (as) [Mary].

God chose Maryam (as) [Mary] above all the women of the world.  He said:

“And  when the angels said: ‘O Maryam (as) [Mary]!  Verily, God has chosen you, purified you,and chosen you above the women of the worlds of mankind and jinn.’” (Quran 3:42)

Ali ibn Abu Talib said:

“I heard the Prophet of God saying Maryam (as) [Mary], the daughter of Imran was the best among women.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

  In Arabic the name Maryam (as) [Mary]am means the maidservant of God, and as we shall see, Maryam (as) [Mary], the mother of Isa (as) [Jesus], was dedicated to God even before she was born.

The Birth of Maryam (as) [Mary]

The Bible is unable to give us any details of Maryam (as) [Mary]’s birth; however, the Quran informs us that the wife of Imran dedicated her unborn child to the service of God.  Maryam (as) [Mary]’s mother, the wife of Imran, was Hannah[1].  She was the sister of Prophet Zachary’s wife.  Hannah and her husband Imran had believed they would never have children, but one day Hannah made a sincere and heartfelt supplication to God begging for a child, and vowing that her offspring would serve in God’s House in Jerusalem.  God heard Hannah’s supplication and she fell pregnant.  When Hannah realised the glorious news she turned to God and said:

“O my Lord!  I have vowed to You what is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services, so accept this, from me.  Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing.” (Quran 3:35)

There are lessons to be learned from Hannah’s vow to God, one of which is caring for the religious education of our children.  Hannah was not thinking in terms of this world at all, she was trying to ensure that her child was close to God and in His service.  These chosen friends of God, such as family of Imran, are the parents whom we should take as our role models.  God says many times in the Quran that He is the One who supplies provision for us, and He warns us to save ourselves and our families from the fires of Hell.

In her supplication, Hannah asked that her child be free from all worldly work.  By promising that her child would be the servant of God, Hannah was securing her child’s freedom.  Freedom is a quality of life that every human being strives to attain, but Hannah understood that true freedom comes from complete submission to God.  This is what she aspired to for her yet unborn child.  Hannah wanted her child to be a free person, a slave to no man and no desire, but a slave only to God.  In due time, Hannah gave birth to a girl, again she turned to God in prayer and said:

“‘O my Lord, I have delivered a female child,’ and the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (as) [Mary], and I seek refuge with You for her and her offspring from Satan, the outcast.” (Quran 3:36)

Hannah named her child Maryam (as) [Mary].  With reference to her vow to God, Hannah now found herself facing a dilemma.  Serving in the House of Prayer was not acceptable for women.  Maryam (as) [Mary]’s father, Imran had died before she was born, so Hannah turned to her brother in law, Zachary.  He comforted Hannah and helped her to understand that God knew that she had delivered a girl.  This girl child, Maryam (as) [Mary], was from the best of creation.  Prophet Mohammad mentioned[2]  that whenever a child is born Satan pricks him or her and therefore the child cries loudly.  This is a sign of the great enmity between mankind and Satan; however there were two exceptions to this rule.  Satan pricked neither Maryam (as) [Mary] nor her son Isa (as) [Jesus][3], due to the supplication of Maryam (as) [Mary]’s mother.

When the time came for Maryam (as) [Mary] to go into the House of Prayer, everybody wanted to take care of this pious daughter of Imran.  As was the custom of the time, the men drew lots for the privilege, and God ensured that her guardian was Prophet Zachary.

“So her Lord accepted her with goodly acceptance, and made her grow in a good manner, and put her under the care of Zachary.” (Quran 3:37)

Prophet Zachary served in the House of God and was a wise and knowledgeable man devoted to teaching.  He had a private room built for Maryam (as) [Mary] so that she was able to worship God and go about her daily duties in private.  As her guardian, Prophet Zachary visited Maryam (as) [Mary] daily, and one day he was surprised to see fresh fruit in her room.  It is said that in winter she would have the fresh fruits of summer and in the summer she would have the fresh fruits of winter.[4] Prophet Zachary inquired about how the fruit got there, to which Maryam (as) [Mary] replied, it was indeed God Who provided her sustenance. She said:

“It is from God.  Verily, God provides sustenance to whom He wills without limit.” (Quran 3:37)

Maryam (as) [Mary]’s devotion to God was at that time unparalleled, but her faith was about to be tested.


Footnotes:

[1] From the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer.

[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

[3] Saheeh Muslim.

[4] Based on the work of Al Imam ibn Katheer.  The Stories of the Prophets.

Maryam (as) [Mary], the Mother of Isa (as) [Jesus] (part 2 of 2): The Birth of Isa (as) [Jesus]

Esteemed and loved by all Muslims and known as a pious and devout woman, Maryam (as) [Mary], the mother of Isa (as) [Jesus] was chosen above all other women.  Islam rejects the Christian notion that Isa (as) [Jesus] is part of a trinity that is God, and denies emphatically that either Isa (as) [Jesus] or his mother, Maryam (as) [Mary], are worthy of worship.  The Quran categorically states that there is no god but God.

“Such is God, your Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Creator of all things.  So worship Him …” (Quran 6:102)

Muslims are required, however, to believe in and love all of the Prophets, including Prophet Isa (as) [Jesus], who holds a special place in the Islamic creed.  His mother, Maryam (as) [Mary], holds a place of honour.  As a young woman, Maryam (as) [Mary] went into the House of Prayer in Jerusalem, her entire life dedicated to the worship and service of God.

Maryam (as) [Mary] Hears the News of Isa (as) [Jesus]

While she was in seclusion from everybody, a man appeared before Maryam (as) [Mary].  God said:

“She screened herself from them; We sent to her Our Spirit, and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects.” (Quran 19:17)

Maryam (as) [Mary] was afraid and tried to flee.  She appealed to God saying:

“Verily!  I seek refuge with the Most Gracious (God) from you, if you do fear God.”  The angel said: “I am only a Messenger from your Lord to you, announcing the gift of a righteous son.” (Quran 19:18-19)

Maryam (as) [Mary] was amazed and puzzled by these words.  She was not married, rather a virgin who kept chaste.  She asked incredulously:

“‘O my Lord!  How will I have a son when no man has touched me?’  He said, “So (it will be): for God creates what He wills;  when He has decreed something, He says to it only ‘Be’ – and it is.” (Quran 3:47)

God created Adam from the dust of the earth, without either mother or father.  He created Eve from Adam’s rib; and Isa (as) [Jesus], He created without a father, but with a mother, the pious Virgin Maryam (as) [Mary].  God, who has only to say ‘Be’ to a thing in order to bring it into existence,, blew the spirit of Isa (as) [Jesus] into Maryam (as) [Mary] via the Angel Gabriel.

“And We breathed into it[1] through Our Spirit, and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord …” (Quran 66:12)

Although the stories of Maryam (as) [Mary] in the Quran and in the Bible have many aspects in common, the view that Maryam (as) [Mary] was betrothed or married is totally rejected by Islam.  Time passed, and Maryam (as) [Mary] became afraid of what the people around her would say.  She wondered how they could possibly believe that no man had touched her. The majority of scholars in Islam agree that the duration of Maryam (as) [Mary]’s pregnancy was normal.[2]  Then, as the time came for her to give birth, Maryam (as) [Mary] decided to leave Jerusalem, and travelled towards the city of Bethlehem.  Even though Maryam (as) [Mary] must have recalled the words of God, for her faith was strong and unwavering, this young woman was anxious and uneasy.  But the angel Gabriel reassured her:

“O Maryam (as) [Mary], Verily God gives you glad tidings of a word  from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Isa (as) [Jesus], the son of Maryam (as) [Mary] – held in honour  in this world and the Hereafter and will be one of those who are  near to God.” (Quran 3:45)

Isa (as) [Jesus] is Born

The pains of childbirth drove her to clutch at the trunk of a date-palm tree and she cried out in anguish:

“Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!” (Quran 19:23)

Maryam (as) [Mary] delivered her child right there, at the foot of the date tree.  She was exhausted after the birth, and filled with distress and fear, but nevertheless she heard a voice calling out to her.  .

“Grieve not!  Your Lord has provided you a stream of clear water under you; and shake the trunk of palm tree towards you; it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you.  So eat and drink and be glad…” (Quran 19:24)

God provided Maryam (as) [Mary] with water, as a stream suddenly appeared beneath the place she was sitting.  He also provided her with food; all she had to do was shake the trunk of the date tree.  Maryam (as) [Mary] was scared and frightened; she felt so weak, having just given birth, so how could she possibly shake the immense trunk of a date tree?  But God continued to provide Maryam (as) [Mary] with sustenance.

The next event was indeed another miracle, and as human beings we learn a great lesson from this.  Maryam (as) [Mary] didn’t need to shake the date tree, which would have been impossible; she only had to make an effort.  As she attempted to follow God’s command,  fresh ripe dates fell from the tree and God said to Maryam (as) [Mary]: “…eat, drink and be glad.” (Quran 19:26)

Maryam (as) [Mary] now had to take her new born child and go back to face her family.  Of course she was afraid, and God knew this well.  Thus He directed her not to speak.  It would not have been possible for Maryam (as) [Mary] to explain how she had suddenly become the mother of a new born child.  Since she was unmarried, her people would not believe her explanations.  God said:

“And if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily!  I have vowed a fast unto the Most Gracious (God) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.’” (Quran 19:26)

Maryam (as) [Mary] came to her people carrying the child, and they immediately began accusing her; they exclaimed “What have you done?  You are from a good family, and your parents were pious.”

As God had directed her, Maryam (as) [Mary] did not speak, she merely pointed to the baby in her arms.  Then Isa (as) [Jesus], son of Maryam (as) [Mary], spoke.  As a newborn baby, Isa (as) [Jesus], the Prophet of God performed his first miracle.  By the permission of God he said:

“Verily!  I am a slave of God.  He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; and He has made me blessed wheresoever I be, and has enjoined on me prayer, and alms, as long as I live, and to be dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant, unblest.  And peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (Quran 19:30-34)

Maryam (as) [Mary] is referred to in the Quran (5:75) as a siddqa (truthful one) but the Arabic word siddiqa implies more then just speaking the truth.  It means that one has achieved a very high level of righteousness.  It means that one is truthful, not only with themselves and those around them, but also with God.  Maryam (as) [Mary] was a woman who fulfilled her covenant with God, Whom she worshiped with full submission.  She was pious, chaste, and devout; the woman chosen above all other women to be the mother of Isa (as) [Jesus] was Maryam (as) [Mary], the daughter of Imran.


Footnotes:

[1] This is explained in commentaries as an opening in her garment, though the verse itself speaks of “her chastity” (i.e. guarding herself from opening up to marriageable men).  Thus God blew into what she guarded by means of the angel Gabriel.

[2] Sheikh al Shanqeeti in (Adwaa’ al-Bayaan, 4/264)

Source: http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1398/viewall/

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses]

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 1 of 12): Who is Musa (as) [Moses]?

In both Judaism and Christianity Musa (as) [Moses] is a central figure.  He is the man from the Old Testament most mentioned in the New Testament, he led the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, communicated with God and received the Ten Commandments.  Musa (as) [Moses] is known as both a religious leader and a lawgiver.

In Islam, Musa (as) [Moses] is loved and respected; he is both a Prophet and a Messenger.  God mentions him more than 120 times, and his story ranges across several chapters.  It is the longest and most detailed story of a prophet in the Quran and is discussed in elaborate detail.

The word Prophet (Nabi in Arabic) is derived from the word Naba, meaning news.  God’s message is revealed and the Prophet spreads the news amongst his people.  A Messenger, on the other hand, comes with a specific mission, usually to convey a new ordainment from God.  Every Messenger is a Prophet, but not every Prophet, is a Messenger.

Islam teaches that all prophets came to their people with the same proclamation, “O my people, worship God, you have no other God but Him”(Quran 11:50).  Musa (as) [Moses] called the children of Israel to worship God alone and he laid down the laws prescribed in the Torah.

“Verily, We did send down the Torah to Musa (as) [Moses], therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to God’s Will, judged the Jews.  And the rabbis and the priests too judged the Jews by the Torah for to them was entrusted the protection of God’s Book, and they were witnesses thereto.” (Quran 5:44)

Quran is a book of guidance for all of humankind.  It is not a history book; however, it does contain historical information.  God asks us to reflect and contemplate on the stories of the Prophets in order that we may learn from their trials, tribulations, and triumphs.  Musa (as) [Moses]’ story contains many lessons for humankind.  God says that the account of Musa (as) [Moses] and Pharaoh in Quran is the truth.  It is a story of political intrigue and of oppression that knew no bounds.

“We recite to you some of the news of Musa (as) [Moses] and Pharaoh in truth, for a people who believe.  Verily, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people sects, weakening (oppressing) a group (i.e. Children of Israel) among them; killing their sons, and letting their females live.  Verily, he was of those who commit great sins and crimes, oppressors, tyrant.” (Quran 28:3&4)

Musa (as) [Moses] was born into one of the most politically charged times in history.  The Pharaoh of Egypt was the dominant power figure in the land.  He was so incredibly powerful that he referred to himself as a god and nobody was inclined or able to dispute this.  He said, “I am your lord, most high”, (Quran 79:24)

Pharaoh effortlessly exerted his authority and influence over all the people in Egypt.  He used the strategy of divide and conquer.  He set up class distinctions, divided the people into groups and tribes, and set them against one another.  The Jews, the children of Israel, were put at the lowest level of Egyptian society.  They were the slaves and servants.  Musa (as) [Moses]’ family was from amongst the children of Israel.

Egypt at the time was the known world’s superpower.  The ultimate power rested in the hands of very few.  Pharaoh and his trusted ministers directed matters as if lives of the population were of little or no consequence.  The political situation was in some ways similar to the political world of the 21stcentury.  In a time when the young people of the world are used as cannon fodder for the political and military games of the most powerful, the story of Musa (as) [Moses] is particularly pertinent.

According to Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir the children of Israel talked vaguely about one of their nation’s sons arsing to wrest the throne of Egypt from Pharaoh.  Perhaps it was just a persistent daydream from an oppressed people, or even an ancient prophecy but the story of Musa (as) [Moses] begins here.  A yearning for freedom coupled with a tyrannical king’s dream.

The people of Egypt were influenced by dreams and the interpretation of dreams.  Dreams featured prominently in the story of prophet Joseph and once again, in the story of Musa (as) [Moses] the fate of the children of Israel is affected by a dream.  Pharaoh dreams that a child from the children of Israel grows to manhood and seizes his throne.

True to character, Pharaoh reacts arrogantly and gives the order that all male children born to the children of Israel be killed.  His ministers however perceive that this would lead to the complete annihilation of the children of Israel and economic ruin for Egypt.  How, they ask, would the empire function without slaves and servants?  The order is changed; the male children are killed in one year but spared in the next.

Pharaoh becomes so fanatical he sends spies or security agents to seek out pregnant women.  If any woman gives birth to a male child, he is immediately put to death.  When Musa (as) [Moses]’ mother becomes pregnant with the child destined to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, she conceals her pregnancy.  However, God wished to do a favour to those who were weak and oppressed, and pharaoh’s plans are thwarted.

“And We wished to do a favour to those who were weak (and oppressed) in the land, and to make them rulers and to make them the inheritors, And to establish them in the land, and We let Pharaoh and Haman (Egypt’s Chief Minister)  and their hosts receive from them that which they feared.” (Quran 28:5&6)

The scene is set, and the child is born.  The winds of change begin to blow and God demonstrates that humans may plan and scheme but He Alone is the best of planners.

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 2 of 12): Trust in God

There are lessons for humankind throughout the story of Musa (as) [Moses], which are not only learnt after his prophethood; rather, they are found even when he was a newborn. His righteous mother’s behavior gives us numerous lessons that are relevant even today.  Put your trust in God!

Musa (as) [Moses] was born in a year in which the sons of the Children of Israel were put to death the moment they were born.  Imagine the sense of fear that permeated every aspect of life under such conditions.  Pregnancy was not an event to be celebrated and cherished but a source of fear and insecurity.

Security guards roamed the streets and invaded homes searching for pregnant women, therefore Musa (as) [Moses]’ mother concealed her pregnancy.  Imagine the conditions under which she gave birth: fearful, silent, possibly shrouded in darkness.  Was she surrounded by women or alone?  Did her husband hold her hand praying that she did not cry out revealing herself to the neighbours or guards?

Whatever the conditions, Musa (as) [Moses] was born.  A boy.  His parents’ heart must have constricted with joy and fear simultaneously.  What were they to do now, how would they conceal a newborn baby?  Musa (as) [Moses]’ mother was a righteous woman, pious and God fearing, therefore in her hour of need she turned to God and He inspired her next actions.

“And We inspired the mother of Musa (as) [Moses] saying, suckle him, but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve.  Verily! We shall bring him back to you, and shall make him one of (Our) Messengers.” (Quran 28:2-7).

Musa (as) [Moses]’ mother has just spent the last months concealing her pregnancy for fear that her child would be put to death, now as she holds him to her breast God inspires her to cast him into the river.  Not a gentle stream but the Nile River, a huge powerful river with a strong current.  Her initial reaction must have been that such an action would be condemning him to certain death.

Musa (as) [Moses]’ mother put her trust in God.   “Do not fear and do not grieve, for We will bring him back to you.”  She made a waterproof basket, placed her tiny son inside, and cast him into the river.  Ibn Kathir narrates that as the basket touched the water the raging current became calm and gentle, sweeping the basket silently downstream.  Musa (as) [Moses]’ sister was instructed by her mother to slip silently through the reeds and follow the basket on its journey.

The basket with its precious cargo courses down the Nile River, passing houses, boats, and people, unnoticed until it stops at Pharaoh’s palace.  Musa (as) [Moses]’ sister watches in fear, as someone from Pharaoh’s household removes the basket from the river.  Musa (as) [Moses] was cast into the river to escape certain death and now his resting place is the palace of Pharaoh.  This is surely too much for a mother to bear, however events about to unfold will demonstrate that the promise of God is true.

“…And whosoever fears God and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in God, then He will suffice him. Verily, God will accomplish his purpose. Indeed God has set a measure for all things.” (Quran 65:2-3)

Baby Musa (as) [Moses] was taken to Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh.  Asiya, in contrast to her arrogant, proud husband was a righteous, merciful woman.  God opened her heart and Asiya looked down up on the tiny baby and felt overcome by her love for him.  The royal couple were unable to conceive a child and this tiny baby awakened her maternal instincts.  Asiya clutched him to her chest and asked her husband to accept the child into family.

Possibly, against his better judgement Pharaoh accepted the child, who was part of God’s plan to bring down the royal house.  Far from abandoning him, God set Musa (as) [Moses] up as a royal son of Egypt, he provided him with the strongest human support in the land.  Asiya and Pharaoh now had a son, who was now protected by the very person who had sought to kill him.

“Then the household of Pharaoh picked him up, that he might become for them an enemy and a cause of grief. Verily! Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts were sinners. And the wife of Pharaoh said; ‘A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he maybe of a benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.’ And they perceived not (the result of that).” (Quran 28:8-9)

Asiya summoned wet nurses to the palace, but the tiny child refused to suckle. This was a cause of great distress; in those days there were no baby formulas or supplements to offer the child.  At this stage the royal palace was in turmoil, the women of the household were fussing over Asiya and her new baby therefore no one noticed the presence of  Musa (as) [Moses]’ sister amongst the servants.  She summoned all her courage and stepped forward offering a solution.  She said she knew of a woman who would suckle the child affectionately.  Why would the royal household take the advice of an unknown child, if not to fulfil God’s plan.  Musa (as) [Moses]’ sister was ordered to rush and fetch the woman.

“And We had already forbidden (other) foster suckling mothers for him, until she (his sister came up and) said: “Shall I direct you to a household who will rear him for you, and sincerely they will look after him in a good manner?” (Quran 28:12)

Musa (as) [Moses]’ mother was in her home.  Was she pacing, or weeping silently? We do not know, but God tells us that her heart was empty and that she was about to reveal herself.  Was she considering dashing down to the river and searching frantically through the reeds? God relieved her of her torment when her daughter rushed into the house breathlessly relating the story of what had happened to Musa (as) [Moses].

Mother and daughter lost no time returning to the palace.  When Musa (as) [Moses] was handed to his real mother, he settled immediately and began to suckle.  According to Ibn Kathir, the household, including Pharaoh himself, was astonished.  Pharaoh asked the woman who she was and she replied, “I am a woman of sweet milk and sweet smell, and no child refuses me.” Pharaoh accepted this answer, and thus Musa (as) [Moses] was returned to the arms of his mother and raised in the palace as a prince of Egypt.

“So did We restore him to his mother, that she might be delighted, and that she might not grieve, and that she might know that the Promise of God is true. But most of them know not.” (Quran 28:13)

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 3 of 12): Musa (as) [Moses] flees Egypt

Chapter 28 of the Quran is named, ‘The Narration’, the first 45 verses focus solely on the story of Musa (as) [Moses].  It is from here that we learn about the strength and piety of his mother, and how God rewarded her righteousness and trust in Him by returning her son.  Some scholars  believe that Musa (as) [Moses] and his mother retuned to  their home among the Children of Israel, others, including Ibn Kathir believe that Musa (as) [Moses] and his mother lived in the palace while she was breast feeding him and that as he grew up she was allowed the privilege of visiting him.

The Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, are silent about this period of Musa (as) [Moses] life, although it would be fair to say that by the time Musa (as) [Moses] was a man, he probably knew about his origin and identified with the children of Israel.  The traditions of Prophet Muhammad describe Musa (as) [Moses] as a tall, well-built, dark skinned man with curly hair.  Both his character and physique are described as strong.

“And when he attained his full strength, and was perfect (in manhood), We bestowed on him Hukman (Prophethood, right judgment of the affairs) and religious knowledge (of the religion of his forefathers, Islamic Monotheism).  And thus do We reward the Muhsineen (good-doers).” (Quran 28:14)

We will discover in the story of Musa (as) [Moses] that he was a forthright man.  He believed in speaking his mind and standing up for the weaker members of society.  Whenever he witnessed oppression or cruelty, he found it impossible to stop himself from intervening.

Ibn Kathir narrates that one day while walking in the city; Musa (as) [Moses] came upon two men fighting.  One was an Israelite and the other an Egyptian.  The Israelite recognised Musa (as) [Moses] and cried out to him for help.  Musa (as) [Moses] stepped into the fight and struck the Egyptian one ferocious blow.  He immediately fell to the ground and died.  Musa (as) [Moses] was overcome with grief.  He was aware of his own strength but did not imagine that he had the power to kill someone with one blow.

“And he entered the city at a time of unawareness of its people, and he found there two men fighting, one of his party and the other of his foes.  The man of his own party asked him for help against his foe, so Musa (as) [Moses] struck him with his fist and killed him.  He said, “This is of Satan’s doing, verily, he is a plain misleading enemy.”

He said, “My Lord!  Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.”  Then He forgave him.  Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.

He said, “My Lord!  For that with which You have favoured me, I will never more be a helper for the criminals, disobedient to God, polytheists, sinners, etc.!” (Quran 28:15-17)

Either because the streets were relatively deserted or because the people had no wish to be involved in a serious assault, the authorities had no idea that Musa (as) [Moses] was involved in the melee.  However, the next day Musa (as) [Moses] saw the same Israelite man involved in yet another fight.  He suspected that the man was a troublemaker and approached him to warn him about such behaviour.

The Israelite saw Musa (as) [Moses] striding towards him and became afraid, he called out, “Would you kill me as you killed the wretch yesterday?”  The man’s opponent, an Egyptian heard this remark and rushed away to report Musa (as) [Moses] to the authorities.  Later on that day, Musa (as) [Moses] was approached by a person unknown who informed him that the authorities were planning to arrest him and possibly put him to death for the crime of killing an Egyptian.

So he became afraid, looking about in the city (waiting as to what will be the result of his crime of killing), when behold, the man who had sought his help the day before, called for his help again.  Musa (as) [Moses] said to him, “Verily, you are a plain misleader!”  Then when he decided to seize the man who was an enemy to both of them, the man said, “O Musa (as) [Moses]!  Is it your intention to kill me as you killed a man yesterday?  Your aim is nothing but to become a tyrant in the land, and not to be one of those who do right.”

And there came a man running, from the farthest end of the city.  He said, “O Musa (as) [Moses]!  Verily, the chiefs are taking counsel together about you, to kill you, so escape.  Truly, I am to you of those who give sincere advice.”

So he escaped from there, looking about in a state of fear.  He said, “My Lord!  Save me from the people who are polytheists, and wrong-doers!” (Quran 28:15-21)

Musa (as) [Moses] immediately left the confines of the city.  He did not take the time to return to his home to change his clothes or prepare provisions.  Musa (as) [Moses] strode into the desert towards Midian, the country that lay between Syria and Egypt.  His heart was filled with fear and he was afraid that he would turn around and see the authorities pursuing him.  He walked, and walked, and when his feet and legs felt like lead, he continued walking.  His shoes wore away on the rough desert ground and the hot sand burned the soles of his feet.  Musa (as) [Moses] was exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and bleeding but he forced himself to continue, some say for more than a week, until he came to a watering hole.  Musa (as) [Moses] threw himself under the shade of a tree.

Death in the dry dusty heat of the Egyptian desert should have been the likely outcome of Musa (as) [Moses] journey. Tracking across the inhospitable landscape with no provisions and inappropriate clothing would have been an expedition doomed to failure.  Yet once again, the story of Musa (as) [Moses] reveals a fundamental truth.  If a believer submits fully to the will of God, God will provide for him from sources unimaginable.  God will replace weakness with strength, and will replace failure with victory.

Musa (as) [Moses] arrived safely at the desert oasis, the smell of water and the shade of the trees must have seemed like paradise on earth.  Musa (as) [Moses] however was not alone in his newfound paradise; the waterhole was surrounded by shepherds watering their flocks.

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 4 of 12): A Stranger in a Strange Land

After walking for more than a week across the burning desert, Musa (as) [Moses] arrived at an oasis where groups of men were watering their animals.  They were pushing, fighting, joking, and laughing, behaving in a rough, and tumble manner.  Musa (as) [Moses] flung himself onto the ground grateful for the shade of a tree.  As he caught his breath, he noticed two women and their flock of sheep.  They were standing well back, hesitant to approach the waterhole.

Musa (as) [Moses] was a man of honour.  Even though he was exhausted and dehydrated Musa (as) [Moses] could not bear to see the women standing back afraid to move toward the waterhole.  He approached them, and asked why the men in their family did not look after the sheep.  The two young women explained that their father was an old man and the task of caring for the sheep was now their responsibility.

Musa (as) [Moses] took the women’s sheep to the waterhole, where he easily pushed in amongst the men already there.  After completing this task, Musa (as) [Moses]’ energy was totally spent.  He sat under the shade of the tree and began to supplicate God.  He said, “O Lord, whatever good you can bestow on me, I am surely in need of it”.

“And when he arrived at the water of Midian he found there a group of men watering their flocks, and besides them he found two women who were keeping back their flocks.  He said, “What is the matter with you?”  They said, “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take their flocks.  And our father is a very old man.”  Therefore, he watered their flocks for them, and then he turned back to shade, and said, “My Lord!  Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!”  (Quran 28:22-24)

Quran relates to us the stories of the prophets of God in order that we might learn from them.  The Prophets are worthy role models and their lives are not so different from our own.  How many times has each one of us sunk to the ground or into a chair in despair?  How many times have we felt so physically or mentally exhausted that it seems we will be unable to go on for even one more second?

Musa (as) [Moses] once again turned to the only real source of help for humankind – God, and before his supplication was finished help was on its way.  Musa (as) [Moses] was probably hoping for a slice of bread or a handful of dates but instead God gave him safety, provisions and a family.

One of the two women returned to Musa (as) [Moses].  She conducted herself with modesty and shyness and said to Musa (as) [Moses], “My father wants to reward you for your kindness and invites you to our home’.  Consequently, Musa (as) [Moses] roused himself and went to see the elderly man.  They sat together and Musa (as) [Moses] related his story.  The elderly man allayed his fears and told Musa (as) [Moses] that he had safely crossed the Egyptian border; he was now in Midian and was safe from any authorities that may have been pursuing him.

“Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly.  She said, “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered our flocks for us.”  So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said, “Fear you not.  You have escaped from the people who are polytheists, disbelievers, and wrong-doers.”  (Quran 28:25)

After Musa (as) [Moses] had been invited to stay with the family, one of the women approached her father privately and advised him to hire Musa (as) [Moses].  When her father asked why, she answered because he is strong and trustworthy.  Two qualities that Islam tells us are signs of leadership.  In the years immediately following the death of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, the leaders of the Muslim nation were chosen for these two qualities.  They learned their politics from Quran, from the stories of their righteous predecessors.

The elderly man, who some scholars believe was Prophet Shuaib, although there are no authentic sources either confirming or denying this, offered Musa (as) [Moses] the safety and security of his own family.  He gave one of his daughters in marriage to Musa (as) [Moses]  on the condition that he work  for eight years, or ten if Musa (as) [Moses] agreed to stay on for the further two years.  Musa (as) [Moses] was a stranger in a strange land.  Exhausted and alone, but God heard his supplication and provided for him from sources that Musa (as) [Moses] could never have imagined.

And said one of them (the two women): “O my father!  Hire him!  Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.”  He said, “I intend to wed one of these two daughters of mine to you, on condition that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten years, it will be a favour from you.  But I intend not to place you under a difficulty.  If Allah wills, you will find me one of the righteous.”  He (Musa (as) [Moses]) said, “That is settled between me and you whichever of the two terms I fulfil, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say.”  (Quran 28:26-28)

As believers we must never forget that God hears our prayers and supplications, and answers.  Sometimes the wisdom behind the answers is beyond our comprehension but God desires only good for us.  Putting our trust in God and submitting to His will allow the believer to weather any storm, and to stand tall in the face of adversity.  We are never alone, just as Musa (as) [Moses] was not alone as he trudged across the desert fleeing the only life and land he had ever known.

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 5 of 12): Musa (as) [Moses] Hears the Voice of God

Musa (as) [Moses], may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, married one of the women he had initially helped at waterhole and spent the next ten years working with her father and raising his own family.  His new life was quiet and contemplative, he did not have to endure the intrigue of the Egyptian court or the humiliation of his people, the Children of Israel.  Musa (as) [Moses] was able to ponder the wonders of God and the universe.

Any account of Musa (as) [Moses]’ life is filled with lessons and guidance, for Musa (as) [Moses] and for humankind.  God put Musa (as) [Moses] through experiences that would hold him in good stead in his coming mission.  Musa (as) [Moses] had been brought up in the house of the Pharaoh of Egypt; therefore, he was well aware of the politics and intrigue of the Egyptian government.  Musa (as) [Moses] also had first hand experience of the corruption of Pharaoh himself – the man who had declared himself God.

It was through God’s grace and mercy that Musa (as) [Moses] was able to escape from Egypt and travel about in the lands.  He was able to experience other cultures and people.  Travel then and now broadens horizons and opens hearts and minds to the differences and the similarities between people of diverse backgrounds.God says:

“O humankind!  We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.” (Quran 49:13)

During his time in Midian, Musa (as) [Moses] was a shepherd.  Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, informed us that all the prophets of God had spent time tending flocks of sheep.  It may seem a strange profession but on careful examination, we can see that shepherds learn some valuable lessons while tending to their flocks.  A shepherd has a lonely quiet life; there is time for personal reflection and contemplation of the wonders of life.

However, at the same time a shepherd must be constantly on alert for danger.  Sheep in particular are weak animals requiring constant care and attention.  If even one sheep wanders away from the protection of the flock, it becomes easy prey.  A prophet usually has the job of protecting a whole nation, he must be alert and aware of any danger threatening his followers, especially the weak, poor and oppressed among them.

After Musa (as) [Moses] had completed his term of service that he had pledged to his father in law, he was overcome by homesickness.  He began to miss his family and the land of Egypt.  Even though he was afraid of what would happen if he returned, he experienced a strange longing to return to the land of his birth.  Musa (as) [Moses] gathered his family together and made the long journey back to Egypt.

“Then, when Musa (as) [Moses] had fulfilled the term, and was travelling with his family, he saw a fire in the direction of Mount Tur.  He said to his family, “Wait, I have seen a fire; perhaps I may bring to you from there some news, or a burning fire-brand that you may warm yourselves”. (Quran 28:29)

While Musa (as) [Moses] was trekking back across the desert, he became lost.  It was a cold dark night.  Musa (as) [Moses] saw what appeared to be a fire burning in the distance.  He told his family to stay where they were.  He had hopes of either getting directions or being able to carry some fire back to warm his family.  Unbeknownst to Musa (as) [Moses], he was about to participate in one of history’s most amazing conversations.  He walked towards the fire, and as he did, he heard a voice.

“…Blessed is whosoever is in the fire, and whosoever is round about it!  And far removed is God from every imperfecction, the Lord of all that exists.  “O Musa (as) [Moses]!  Verily!  It is I, God, the All-Mighty, and the All-Wise.” (Quran 27:8&9)

God spoke to Musa (as) [Moses].  He asked Musa (as) [Moses] to remove his shoes for he would be standing on scared ground.  God revealed to Musa (as) [Moses] that he had been chosen for a special mission and bid him listen to what was about to be said.

“Verily!  I am God, none has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me, and perform prayer for My Remembrance.  Verily, the Hour is coming and I am almost hiding it that every person may be rewarded for that which he strives.  Therefore, let not the one who believes not therein (i.e. in the Day of Resurrection, Reckoning, Paradise and Hell, etc.), but follows his own lusts, divert you, lest you perish.” (Quran 20:14-16)

In a direct conversation between God and Musa (as) [Moses], prayer was prescribed upon Musa (as) [Moses] and his followers.  Prayer was also prescribed upon Prophet Muhammad and his followers in much the same way on the night of Prophet Muhammad’s journey to Jerusalem and ascent into the heavens.

At this time, Musa (as) [Moses] must have been mesmerised.  He set out for Egypt, following a strange yearning to return to his homeland.  He had become lost in the dark and cold and was searching for light and guidance.  He walked towards what he thought was a burning fire and found the light and guidance of God.

Musa (as) [Moses] was holding a stick or staff in his hand.  God spoke to him and said what is this stick Musa (as) [Moses], tell me about it.  Musa (as) [Moses] answered, “This is my stick, whereon I lean, and wherewith I beat down branches for my sheep, and wherein I find other uses.”  (Quran 20:18)  Musa (as) [Moses] knew his stick very well; he knew it had no miraculous qualities.  God asked Musa (as) [Moses] to throw the stick to the ground and when he did, it began to slither and shake.  The stick had been transformed into a snake.

Musa (as) [Moses] was afraid; he turned on his heels and began to run away.  It is a natural human inclination to be afraid of strange and unknown things, but God wanted to remove this fear from Musa (as) [Moses]’ heart.  He was about to embark on a difficult mission and it was important that he began with complete trust that God would protect him, knowing that there was absolutely no reason for him to be fearful.

“And throw your stick!”  But when he saw it moving as if it were a snake, he turned in flight, and looked not back.  (It was said): “O Musa (as) [Moses]!  Draw near, and fear not.  Verily, you are of those who are secure”. (Quran 28:31)

God then instructed Musa (as) [Moses] to put his hand inside his cloak, He revealed to him another sign of his magnificence and omnipotence.  Signs, which Musa (as) [Moses] would need in his coming mission, proof for those who are disobedient and rebellious.

“Insert your hand into the opening of your garment, it will come out white without disease, and draw your hand close to your side to be free from fear (that which you suffered from the snake, and also by that your hand will return to its original state).  These are two signs, (miracles, evidences, proofs) from your Lord to Pharaoh and his chiefs.  Verily, they are the people who are rebellious, and disobedient towards God.” (Quran 28:32)

God intended to send Musa (as) [Moses] to Pharaoh.  The man he feared most, the man Musa (as) [Moses] thought would surely put him to death.  His heart constricted on fear but God reassured him.

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 6 of 12): An Amazing Conversation

On a dark night, in the shadow of Mount Tur, God conferred Prophethood on Musa (as) [Moses].  His first command to him was go to Pharaoh.

“Go To Pharaoh!  Verily!  He has transgressed (all bounds in disbelief and disobedience, and has behaved as an arrogant tyrant).” (Quran 20:24)

Musa (as) [Moses] fled Egypt in fear for his life; he had spent 10 years in a country outside the jurisdiction of Pharaoh.  Now God was telling him that he must face his biggest fear.  He must face the corrupt Pharaoh; the man Musa (as) [Moses] was sure would want to see him executed.  Musa (as) [Moses] once again felt the fear that had sustained him during his long journey across the desert.  He responded to God’s words.

“My Lord!  I have killed a man among them, and I fear that they will kill me” (Quran 28:33)

Musa (as) [Moses] was afraid but understood that God was completely able to provide him with all the support he needed for a mission that appeared to be virtually impossible.  Musa (as) [Moses] made supplication; he begged for strength and ease in this most difficult mission.  He asked God to open his chest, and grant him eloquence, self-confidence, and contentment.  He also called upon God to strengthen him with a trusted and capable companion in prophethood, his brother Aaron.

The dialogue between God and Musa (as) [Moses] is one of the most amazing conversations contained in the pages of Quran.  The words of God are delivered with eloquence and clarity.  They paint a portrait of a strong yet humble man, enthralled by his encounter with God.  They deliver the ethereal sense that God is all-powerful, omnipotent, yet filled with mercy and love towards His slaves.

“Musa (as) [Moses] said, “O my Lord!  Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness).  And ease my task for me; and make loose the knot (the defect) from my tongue, (remove the incorrectness of my speech) that they understand my speech, and appoint for me a helper from my family, Aaron, my brother; increase my strength with him, and let him share my task (of conveying God’s Message and Prophethood), and we may glorify You much, and remember You much, Verily!  You are of us ever a Well-Seer.”

God said, “You are granted your request, O Musa (as) [Moses]!  And indeed, We conferred a favor on you another time before.  When We inspired your mother with that which We inspired, saying,  “Put him (the child) into a box or a case or a chest and put him into the river (Nile), and then the river shall cast it up on the bank, and there, an enemy of Mine and an enemy of his shall take him.’  And I endured you with love from Me, in order that you may be brought up under My Eye, when your sister went and said; “Shall I show you one who will nurse him?’  So We restored you to your mother that she might cool her eyes and she should not grieve.  Then you did kill a man, but We saved you from a great distress and tried you with a heavy trial.  Then you stayed a number of years with the people of Midian.  Then you came here according to the term which I ordained (for you), O Musa (as) [Moses]!

“And I have chosen you for My Inspiration and My Message for Myself.  Go you and your brother with My proofs, lessons, verses, evidences, signs, revelations, and do not, you both, slacken and become weak in My Remembrance.

“Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, verily, he has transgressed all bounds in disbelief and disobedience and behaved as an arrogant tyrant.  And speak to him kinldy, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear God.”

They said, “Our Lord!  Verily!  We fear lest he should hasten to punish us or lest he should transgress all bounds against us.”

He (God) said: “Fear not, Verily!  I am with you both, Hearing and Seeing.  So go you both to him, and say, “Verily, we are Messengers of your Lord, so let the children of Israel go with us, and torment them not; indeed, we have come with a sign from your Lord!  And peace will be upon him who follows the guidance!  Truly, it has been revealed to us that the torment will be for him who denies (believes not in the Oneness of God, and in His Messengers, etc) and turns away’ (from the truth and obedience of God)” (Quran 20:25-48).

This short astonishing conversation changed Musa (as) [Moses]’ life.  It taught him lessons about himself, about his world, about the nature of humankind and most importantly of all, about the nature of God.  To this day it continues to teach important lessons to humankind.  On a daily basis, the words of Quran change lives.  The lessons learned in the story of Musa (as) [Moses] are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.

By reading the story of Musa (as) [Moses] so far, we have learned the importance of trusting God; we have learned that human beings plan and scheme, but God’s plan can overcome any triumph, test, or trial.  The story of Musa (as) [Moses] has taught us that there is no relief from the torments of this world accept with remembrance and closeness to God.

The story of Musa (as) [Moses] teaches us that God can replace weakness with strength and failure with victory; and that God supports the righteous from sources unimaginable.  Now as God confers prophethood on Musa (as) [Moses] and his brother Aaron we learn the true meaning of brotherhood and the true meaning of why choosing righteous companions can be the key to Paradise.

Musa (as) [Moses] wanted his brother to be his companion in prophethood and on this dangerous mission to confront Pharaoh because Aaron was strong and trustworthy, he was also an articulate, persuasive speaker.  Whenever a person stands with his brother united in a common sense of purpose, united in their worship of God, united in righteousness they are unbeatable against even the most formidable enemy.

Ibn Kathir narrates that Musa (as) [Moses] and Aaron went together to Pharaoh and delivered their message.  Musa (as) [Moses] spoke to Pharaoh about God, His mercy and His Paradise and about the obligation of humankind to worship God Alone.

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 7 of 12): Magic & Illusion

Quran narrates several conversations between Musa (as) [Moses] and Pharaoh.  One of the most detailed accounts is in chapter 26 which is entitled ‘The Poets’.  Musa (as) [Moses] speaks kindly to Pharaoh about God, His Mercy, and His Paradise, but Pharaoh reacts disdainfully and arrogantly.  He reminds Musa (as) [Moses] of his past crime and asks Musa (as) [Moses] to be grateful that he was raised in the palace amongst luxuries and wealth.  Musa (as) [Moses] excuses himself by saying he committed the crime of killing an innocent man when he was ignorant and  points out that he was raised in the palace only because he was unable to live with his own family due to Pharaoh’s indiscriminate killing of baby boys.

“Musa (as) [Moses] said, “I did it then, when I was an ignorant (as regards my Lord and His Message).  So I fled from you when I feared you.  But my Lord has granted me religious knowledge, and Prophethood, and appointed me as one of the Messengers.  And this is the past favour with which you reproach me, and that you have enslaved the children of Israel.”

Pharaoh said, “And what is the Lord of the mankind, jinn, and all that exists?”

Musa (as) [Moses] replied, “The Lord of the heavens, and the earth, and all that is between them, if you seek to be convinced with certainty.”

Pharaoh said to those around, “Do you not hear what he says?”

Musa (as) [Moses] said, “Your Lord and the Lord of your ancient fathers!”

Pharaoh said, “Indeed, your ‘messenger’ who has been sent to you is mad.”

Musa (as) [Moses] said, “Lord of the east, and the west, and all that is between them, if you did but understand!”

Pharaoh said, “If you choose a god other than me, I will certainly put you among the prisoners.”

Musa (as) [Moses] said, “Even if I bring you something manifest (and convincing).”

Pharaoh said, “Bring it forth then, if you are of the truthful!”  (Quran 26:20-31)

Pharaoh began by mocking Musa (as) [Moses], then accusing him of being ungrateful and finally he threatened him.  During this historical period, many people in Egypt practiced magic.  There were even schools teaching classes in magic and illusion.  Pharaoh jumped to the wrong conclusion, he thought that the manifest signs Musa (as) [Moses] was able to show by the permission of God were magic tricks and illusions.

When Musa (as) [Moses] threw his stick and it became a serpent, slithering and sliding along the ground, and when he withdrew his hand from his cloak and it strongly shone bright and white, Pharaoh presumed that Musa (as) [Moses] has learned the art of illusion.  Ibn Kathir narrates the Pharaoh detained Musa (as) [Moses] and Aaron while he despatched couriers throughout Egypt to summon all the magicians to the palace.  Pharaoh promised the magicians prestige and money in return for their tricks.  A contest was set up between Musa (as) [Moses] and the Egyptian magicians.

Pharaoh was confident that his magicians were unbeatable.  He had long been using them to influence the hearts and minds of the people.  Pharaoh used their conjuring tricks and illusions to dominate and control his subjects.  Musa (as) [Moses] was able to set the day for the contest and he chose a customary festival day.  The streets would be crowded with people and the power and strength of God would be visible to all.  There would be maximum exposure to the truth of the words that, there is none worthy of worship except God alone.

“O Musa (as) [Moses]!  Have you come to drive us out from our land with your magic?  We can also show you magic to match it, so set an appointment between us and you, which neither we nor you shall forget to keep, in a fair (open) place.’

Musa (as) [Moses] said, ‘Let the encounter be on the day (of the Festival) of Adornment, and let the people assemble at forenoon.’” (Quran 20:56-59)

Musa (as) [Moses] asked the magicians to perform first.  It is narrated that there were up to 70 magicians lined up in a row.  The magicians threw their sticks and ropes in the name of the Pharaoh and the ground became a seething sea of serpents, writhing and slithering.  The crowd looked on in amazement.  Musa (as) [Moses] was afraid, but he was steadfast, secure in the knowledge that God would protect him and make his task easy.  God covered him with tranquility and directed Musa (as) [Moses] to throw his stick.

Musa (as) [Moses] stick transformed into a huge serpent and quickly devoured all the illusionary serpents that covered the ground.  The crowd rose up like a great wave, cheering and shouting for Musa (as) [Moses].  The magicians were astounded. They were well skilled in the art of magic and illusion, for they were the best magicians in the world at the time, but their conjuring was nothing but a trick.  The magicians knew that Musa (as) [Moses]’ serpent was real.  They collectively fell in prostration declaring their belief in the Lord of Musa (as) [Moses] and Aaron.

“And the magicians fell down prostrating.  Saying: “We believe in the Lord of mankind, jinn, and all that exists.  “The Lord of Musa (as) [Moses] and Aaron.”  Pharaoh said, “You have believed in him before I give you leave.  Surely, he indeed is your chief, who has taught you magic!  So verily, you shall come to know.  Verily, I will cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you all.”  They said, “No harm!  Surely, to our Lord we are to return.  “Verily!  We hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins, as we are the first of the believers in Musa (as) [Moses] and in the Monotheism which he has brought from God.”

The magicians began that day as disbelievers, corrupt and interested only in riches and fame; however, within a few hours they had recognised the truth.  They saw with their own eyes the omnipotence of God and repented for their errant ways.  God is the most merciful, and He will forgive those who turn to Him with sincere and humble repentance.

Musa (as) [Moses] and Aaron left the contest field.  The magicians, as it is told,  were put to death, their bodies hung in the squares and market places to teach the people a lesson.  Pharaoh returned to his palace and his rage magnified.  He quarrelled with his ministers and advisors.  He sent them away and then summoned them into his presence.  He turned to his chief minister and said, “Am I a liar Oh Haman?”  The Pharaoh had built his kingdom on the fact that he was a god, what was he to do now that Musa (as) [Moses] had revealed that there is no god but the one and only God.

“O Haman!  Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways, – the ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the God of Musa (as) [Moses] but verily, I think him to be a liar.”  Thus, it was made fair seeming, in Pharaoh’s eyes, the evil of his deeds, he was hindered from the Right Path, and the plot of Pharaoh led to nothing but loss and destruction for him.” (Quran 40:36-37)

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 8 of 12): Signs of God’s Magnificent Power

Pharaoh was angry. His kingdom of fear was built by oppressing the people and holding their hearts and minds captive. All the people of Egypt from the ministers and magicians to the lowly slaves and servants were afraid of Pharaoh’s power and anger but Musa (as) [Moses] had exposed a weak spot. Pharaoh worried that his kingdom was about to unravel, however he was surrounded by sycophants and parasites who urged him on to greater tyranny.

Pharaoh’s security and intelligence officers began to spread rumours. They said Musa (as) [Moses] and some magicians had secretly organised for Musa (as) [Moses] to win the competition.  The lifeless bodies of the slain magicians were hung in public places to further terrorise the people.  Due to their association with Musa (as) [Moses] the children of Israel, became the scapegoats. They complained to Musa (as) [Moses] that they were ill treated when he was born and now he had caused them to be oppressed once again.

Pharaoh ordered more killing, pillaging and raping. He imprisoned anyone who spoke out against this oppression, and Musa (as) [Moses] was powerless.  He could not interfere.  He counselled patience and watched silently.  The children of Israel complained to Musa (as) [Moses], and he was put into a very difficult situation.  As he contended with Pharaoh’s plots and plans,  his people were turning against him and one of his own was working with the Egyptian powerbrokers.

Korah was a man from the children of Israel blessed with wealth and status, while all around him were poor and often destitute.  He did not acknowledge the blessings of God and treated the poor with contempt.  When Musa (as) [Moses] reminded him that it was his duty, as one who worshipped the One God, to pay poor tax, he refused and began to spread a rumour that Musa (as) [Moses] had invented the tax to make him rich.  God’s anger fell upon Korah and the earth opened up and swallowed him as if he had never existed.

“Verily, Korah was of Musa (as) [Moses]’ people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them.  And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men… He said, “This has been given to me only because of knowledge I possess.” Did he not know that God had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than he in might and greater in the amount of riches. So he went forth before his people arrogantly and We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. (Quran 28: 76-82)

Pharaoh summoned Musa (as) [Moses] to the palace. Ibn Kathir narrates that Pharaoh wanted Musa (as) [Moses] killed and that he was supported by all his ministers and government officials, except one. This man, believed to be a relative of Pharaoh’s, was a believer in the Oneness of God, although until this moment he had kept his belief secret.

And a believing man of Pharaoh’s family, who hid his faith said, “Would you kill a man because he says, My Lord is God, and he (Musa (as) [Moses]) has come to you with clear signs (proofs) from your Lord? And if he is a liar, upon him will be (the sin of) his lie; but if he is telling the truth, then some of that calamity wherewith he threatens you will befall on you. (Quran 40:28)

The believing man spoke eloquently; he warned his people that they would suffer a day of disaster like those days that had afflicted people in the past. He reminded them that God had sent clear signs with Musa (as) [Moses], but his words fell on deaf ears. Pharaoh and many of his ministers threatened to kill the believing man but God kept him safe, and under His protection.

So God saved him from the evils that they plotted (against him), while an evil torment encompassed Pharaoh’s people. (Quran 40: 45)

God commanded Musa (as) [Moses] to warn the Pharaoh that he and the Egyptians would suffer a severe punishment if the children of Israel were not set free. If the torture, oppression, and harassment did not stop, the signs of God’s wrath would descend upon them. Pharaoh’s response was to call all the people of Egypt including the children of Israel to a large gathering. He informed them that he was their Lord, he pointed out that Musa (as) [Moses] was no more then a lowly slave with no power, strength or might. Musa (as) [Moses] strength however came directly from God. The people however believed and obeyed Pharaoh: the signs of God’s power began to descend.

God afflicted Egypt with a severe drought. Even the lush, green, and fertile Nile valleys began to whither and die.  The crops failed and the people began to suffer but Pharaoh remained arrogant therefore God sent a huge flood to devastate the land. The people, including the chief ministers appealed to Musa (as) [Moses].

“O Musa (as) [Moses]! Invoke your Lord for us because of His Promise to you. If you will remove the punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the children of Israel go with you.” (Quran 7:134)

The land returned to normal and the crops once again began to grow, but still the children of Israel were enslaved. God sent a plague of locusts that swallowed up everything in their path. The people rushed to Musa (as) [Moses] begging for his help. The locusts departed but still the children of Israel remained enslaved. Next came a plague of lice, spreading disease amongst the people, followed by a plague of frogs that harassed and terrified the people in their homes and beds. Each time one of God’s punishments descended the people begged Musa (as) [Moses] to implore his Lord for relief; each time they promised to free the enslaved children of Israel and each time, they failed to fulfil that promise.

Then the final sign of God’s anger was revealed, the water of the Nile river turned to blood. For the children of Israel the water remained pure and clear but for all others it appeared as thick red blood.  Even after this most devastating series of signs of God’s displeasure, the children of Israel remained enslaved.

And indeed, We punished the people of Pharaoh with years of drought and shortness of fruits (crops, etc.), that they might remember and take heed.

But whenever good came to them, they said, “Ours is this.” And if evil afflicted them, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Musa (as) [Moses] and those with him. Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with God but most of them know not.

They said Musa (as) [Moses], “Whatever, signs, you may bring to us, and to work therewith 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 signs, yet they remained arrogant, and they were of those people who were criminals, polytheists and sinners.

And when the punishment fell on them they said, “O Musa (as) [Moses]! Invoke your Lord for us because of His Promise to you. If you will remove the punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the Children of Israel go with you.”

But when We removed the punishment from them to a fixed term, which they had to reach, behold! They broke their word!

So We took retribution from them. We drowned them in the sea, because they belied Our signs, and were heedless about them. (Quran 7: 130-136)

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 9 of 12): We Drowned Them in the Sea

Pharaoh and the majority of the people of Egypt refused to believe the signs.  Repeatedly God sent his punishments and the people appealed to Musa (as) [Moses], promising to worship God alone and free the Children of Israel but time and time again, they broke their promises.  Finally, God withdrew His mercy and gave the order for Musa (as) [Moses] to lead his people out of Egypt.

But when We removed the punishment from them to a fixed term, which they had to reach, behold!  They broke their word!  So We took retribution from them. We drowned them in the sea, because they belied Our signs, and were heedless about them. (Quran 7: 130-136)

Pharaoh’s spies knew immediately that something momentous was happening and Pharaoh called a meeting of his most trusted advisors. They decided to gather the entire armed forces to pursue the feeling slaves. Gathering the army took all night and Pharaoh’s army did not leave confines of the city until dawn.

Pharaoh’s army marched into the desert. It was not long before the children of Israel could look back into the distance and see the dust raised by the approaching army. It was also not long before those in the front ranks of the children of Israel had reached the edge of the Red Sea.

The Children of Israel were trapped. In front of them was the Red Sea; to their back was the avenging army. Fear and panic began to spread through their ranks. They appealed to Musa (as) [Moses]. Musa (as) [Moses] had been walking at the back of his fleeing people; he could see the army getting closer and closer. He made his way through the ranks to the edge of the sea. He walked amongst his people allaying their fears and reminding them to keep the faith to continue trusting that God would not let them down.

Musa (as) [Moses] stood at the edge of the Red Sea and looked out toward the horizon. Ibn Kathir narrates that Joshua turned to Musa (as) [Moses] and said, “In front of us is this impassable barrier, the sea, and behind us the enemy; surely death cannot be avoided!” Musa (as) [Moses] did not panic; he stood silently and waited for God to keep His promise, to free the children of Israel.

At that moment, as panic swept over the children of Israel, God inspired Musa (as) [Moses] to strike the sea with his stick. He did as he was commanded. A fierce wind began to blow, the sea began to swirl and spin, and suddenly it parted to reveal a pathway; the bottom of the sea became dry enough for the people to walk across it.

Musa (as) [Moses] began to direct the people across the dry corridor in the middle of the sea. He waited until the last person had commenced walking across the sea before he turned back to look at the approaching army and then followed his people across the seabed. As they reached the other side, the panic and fear began to overwhelm the children of Israel. They once again began to beg and plead for Musa (as) [Moses] to close the corridor.  Musa (as) [Moses] refused, God’s plan was already in motion, and he was confidant that the Children of Israel would be safe even though Pharaoh’s army had followed them into the dry seabed corridor.

And We took the children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh with his hosts followed them in oppression and enmity, till when drowning overtook him, he said,  “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 God’s Will).”

Now you believe while you refused to believe before and you were one of the evildoers! So this day We shall deliver your dead body out from the sea that you maybe a sign to those who come after you! And verily, many among humankind are heedless of our Signs. (Quran10:90-92)

Ibn Kathir describes the death of Pharaoh, “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 the god whom they worshipped and obeyed was a mere man who could not keep death away from his own neck.” When Pharaoh had power, wealth, good health and strength he refused to acknowledge God but when he saw death approaching he cried out to God with fear and horror. If humankind remembers God in times of ease, God will remember the even the lowliest of human beings in times of distress.

Generations of oppression had left an indelible mark on the Children of Israel. Years of humiliation and constant fear had left them ignorant and obstinate.  Most of them had been deprived of comforts and luxuries for all of their lives. They longed for anything that was a sign of wealth or materialism.  The children of Israel believed in God, they had just witnessed the most amazing miracles and signs of God’s power but still they coveted an idol they saw on their journey out of Egypt.

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, “Musa (as) [Moses]! Make for us a god as they have gods.” He said, “Verily, you are a people who know not the Majesty and Greatness of God and what is obligatory upon you.” Musa (as) [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 a god other than God, while He has given you superiority over the mankind and jinn of your time.”

And (remember) when We rescued you from Pharaoh’s 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.” (Quran 7: 138-141)

God had favoured the Children of Israel. They were led safely out of Egypt and they had witnessed the drowning of their cruel ruler Pharaoh. When they needed water

God commanded Musa (as) [Moses] to strike a rock, which sent forth twelve springs of water for the twelve different tribes so that there was no dispute. God also sent clouds to protect them from the scorching sun and to relieve their hunger He sent a special delicious food called manna, and quail. Sadly, in spite of God’s generosity many of the children of Israel complained and wanted the food they were used to eating in Egypt, onions, garlic, beans and lentils.

Musa (as) [Moses] admonished his people and reminded them that they had just left a life of degradation and humiliation. He asked why they whined for the worst bounties when God was providing them with the best. Musa (as) [Moses] 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!” (Quran2: 61). God was providing bounties and making life easy for the children of Israel while they made their way to the Promised land, but they were a broken people, unable to stay away from sin and corruption.

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The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 10 of 12): The Ten Commandments

They left under the cover of darkness, carrying their meagre possessions headed across the desert towards the Red Sea.  When they reached the sea, the Pharaoh’s army was pursuing them closely, the people of Musa (as) [Moses] could see the dust stirred up by the approaching army.  They looked at the sea in front of them and felt trapped.  By the will and permission of God, Musa (as) [Moses] struck the sea with his staff and the sea parted revealing a pathway.  The Children of Israel walked across the seabed.  When the last person had safely crossed, the sea fell back into place and drowned the army of Egypt including the tyrannical Pharaoh.

The Children of Israel were a people oppressed and humiliated over a long period.  Several generations had lived under the yoke of the Pharaoh.  They had become a belligerent people.  Always expecting the worst.  Always longing for a slice of the good things of this world.  There sense of honour and self-confidence had been eroded.  During their journey out of Egypt to the Promised Land, there was ample opportunity for their character flaws to become obvious.  The Children of Israel were ungrateful to God, despite His care and attention to them.  They were incapable of behaving submissively and accepting the will of God.

When the Children of Israel came across a people worshipping idols, their eagerness to be like those people they perceived to be happy became manifest and they asked Musa (as) [Moses] to let them have an idol, completely forgetting the miracles of God they had just witnessed.  When God provided them with delicious food which was till then unknown to them, they complained, wanting the inferior food they were used to.  When Musa (as) [Moses] directed them to march into a town and overthrow the Canaanites they refused, mostly out of fear and thus disobeyed the command of God.  Ibn Kathir narrates that Musa (as) [Moses] was able to find only two men willing to fight.

“He (Musa (as) [Moses]) said, “O my Lord!  I have power only over myself and my brother, so separate us from the people who are rebellious and disobedient to God!”  God 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 rebellious and disobedient to God.”  (Quran 5:20-26)

The ‘days of wandering’ began.  Each day was like the one before it.  The people travelled with no destination in mind.  Eventually they entered the Sinai; Musa (as) [Moses] recognised it as the place where he had spoken to God before his great journey into Egypt had begun. God ordered Musa (as) [Moses] to fast, as purification, for thirty days, and then added ten more days.  After the fast was completed, Musa (as) [Moses] was ready to once again communicate with God.

“And We appointed for Musa (as) [Moses] thirty nights and added to the period ten more, and he completed the term, appointed by his Lord, of forty nights.  And Musa (as) [Moses] said to his brother Aaron, “Take my place among my people, act in the Right Way (by ordering the people to obey God and to worship Him Alone) and follow not the way of the mischief makers.”  And when Musa (as) [Moses] came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, “O my Lord!  Show me (yourself) that I may look upon You.”  God 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 into dust, and Musa (as) [Moses] fell down unconscious.  Then when he recovered his senses he said, “Far removed are you from every imperfection, I turn to You in repentance and I am the first of the believers.”  God said, “O Musa (as) [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 among the grateful.” (Quran 7:142-144)

God gave Musa (as) [Moses] two stone tablets, written upon them were the Ten Commandments.  These commandments form the basis of the Jewish law, the Torah, and they are standards of morality still set by the Christian churches.  Ibn Kathir and the early scholars of Islam state that the Ten commandments are reiterated in two verses from the Quran.

“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 for them; come not near to shameful sins whether committed openly or secretly; and kill not anyone whom God has forbidden, except for a just cause.  This He has commanded you that you may understand.  And come not near to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he or she attains 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 (i.e. judge between men or give evidences) say the truth even if a near relative is concerned, and fulfil the Covenant of God.  This He commands you, that you may remember.” (Quran 6:151-152)

Musa (as) [Moses] had been absent for forty days.  His people had become restless, they were like children, complaining and acting impulsively.  Ibn Kathir describes their descent into the unforgiveable sin of idolatry.  “As-Samiri, a man who was inclined towards evil, suggested that they find themselves another guide, as Musa (as) [Moses] had broken his promise.”  He said to them, “In order to find true guidance, you need a god, and I shall provide one for you.”  So he collected all their gold jewellery, and melted it down.  During the casting, he threw in a handful of dust, acting like a magician to impress the ignorant.  From the molten metal, he fashioned a golden calf.  It was hollow, and when wind passed through it, it produced a sound.”

It was as if they had succeeded in making themselves a living God.  Musa (as) [Moses]’ brother Aaron had been afraid to stand up to the people but when he saw the idol and realised what a grave sin was being committed he spoke up.  He reminded the people to worship God Alone and he warned them of dire consequences for their actions both from Musa (as) [Moses] on his return and from God Himself.  Those who remained true to their belief in One God separated themselves from the idol worshippers.  When Musa (as) [Moses] returned to his people he saw them singing and dancing around the golden calf.  He was furious.

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 11 of 12): The Death of Musa (as) [Moses]

Musa (as) [Moses] could not believe his eyes, even though God had just warned him that a severe punishment was about to befall his people for worshipping the golden calf.  Musa (as) [Moses] heart was filled with shame and anger.  His own people had witnessed the power and majesty of God yet they acted belligerently and without fear of God’s punishment.

“God said, “Verily!  We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Samiri has led them astray.”  Then Musa (as) [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 God and worshipping the calf)?” (Quran 20:83-86)

Musa (as) [Moses] turned to his brother Aaron; he was angry and grabbed him by the beard, at the same time he pulled Aaron towards him by the head.  He bellowed at his brother demanding that Aaron explain why he disobeyed the instructions he had given him, and why he allowed As Samiri to beguile the Children of Israel.  Aaron explained that the people did not listen to him, and were about to kill him. He appealed to Musa (as) [Moses] not to let the idolaters separate them.  Aaron was not as strong and as forceful as his brother and he feared that he would not be able to control the Children of Israel so he waited for his brother Musa (as) [Moses] to return.

God’s promise is true and His punishment was swift.  Musa (as) [Moses] confronted As Samiri and sent him into exile.

“Musa (as) [Moses] said, go away!  And verily, your punishment in this life will be that you will say, ‘Touch me not’ (you will live alone exiled away from humankind); and verily (for a future torment), you have a promise that will not fail.  And look at your god, to which you have been devoted.  We will certainly burn it, and scatter its particles in the sea.” (Quran 20:83-98)

The punishment imposed upon the idol worshippers was severe.

“Remember when Musa (as) [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 wrong doers 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.” (Quran 2:54)

God is the Most Merciful and is forgiving.  After the Children of Israel had purged themselves and killed the idol worshippers among them, God accepted their repentance.  Even after their continuous belligerence and stubbornness, the Children of Israel once again felt God’s favor upon them.

Musa (as) [Moses] then chose 70 men from amongst the most pious elders of the Children of Israel.  He returned with them to Mount Tur.  They were a delegation intending to apologise to God for their behaviour.  They stood back while Musa (as) [Moses] moved into a low-lying cloud to speak with God while the elders waited.  When he came back to them, instead of feeling repentant and apologising the elders informed Musa (as) [Moses] that they would not truly follow him until they had seen God with their own eyes.

“O Musa (as) [Moses]!  We shall never believe in you till we see God plainly.” (Quran 2:35)

The ground shook and the seventy men were struck by a lightening bolt.  They fell to the ground dead.  Musa (as) [Moses] was astounded.  He immediately wondered what he would say to the Children of Israel.  These seventy men were the best of people; Musa (as) [Moses] felt that now the Children of Israel had no hope.  He turned to God.

“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 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 in the Hereafter.  Certainly we have turned unto You.”  He said (as to) My Punishment I afflict therewith whom I will and My Mercy embraces all things.  That (Mercy) I shall ordain for those who are the pious and give alms; and those who believe in our signs.” (Quran 7:155-157)

God is indeed the Most Merciful and His mercy embraces all things.  When Musa (as) [Moses] beseeched God He raised up the seventy dead elders.  For many years the Children of Israel wandered about in the desert and wastelands.  Prophet Musa (as) [Moses] suffered greatly at their hands.  He endured mutiny, belligerence, ignorance, and idolatry, they even inflicted personal harm upon him.  He suffered purely for the sake of pleasing God.  After many years Prophet Aaron died, so Musa (as) [Moses] was finally without his greatest supporter.  Still he remained steadfast; still he remained in the wilderness never quite reaching the Promised land.  Musa (as) [Moses] died, still surrounded by the belligerent Children of Israel.  Still surrounded by people who refused to see the miracles before their eyes, yet God in His Mercy continued to give them chance after chance.

From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, comes the account of Prophet Musa (as) [Moses]’ death.  “The Angel of Death was sent to Musa (as) [Moses].  When he arrived Musa (as) [Moses] punched 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.’  God 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.’  Musa (as) [Moses] said, ‘O Lord!  What will happen after that?’  God replied, ‘then death.’  Musa (as) [Moses] said, ‘Let it come now!’  Musa (as) [Moses] then requested God to let him die close to the Holy Land so that he would be at a distance of a stone’s throw from it.”[1]
Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

The Story of Musa (as) [Moses] (part 12 of 12): Lessons from the life of Prophet Musa (as) [Moses]

The human condition is filled with trials, tribulations, and tremendous learning curves.  Life is full of surprises.  However remembering God and striving to please Him is humankind’s lifeline.  The Quran contains inspirational stories of prophets, and righteous men and women.  The life of Musa (as) [Moses] is discussed frequently and his story teaches us that God is merciful, trustworthy, and caring. Allah, the Most Forgiving, has not left us alone; He has provided us with His guidance and light.

“Indeed, in their stories, there is a lesson for men of understanding.  It (the Quran) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of God’s existing Books (the Torah, the Gospel and other Scriptures of God) and a detailed explanation of everything, a guide, and a Mercy for the people who believe.”  (Quran 12: 111)

Throughout this series of articles, we have learned about Musa (as) [Moses]’ tremendous strength of character, and his ability to persevere even in dire circumstances.  Musa (as) [Moses] followed God’s commandments with valor and determination, and beyond this all, he possessed a character of great importance, the character of sincerity.  Musa (as) [Moses] was sincere in all his efforts.  No matter what he did, he acted with the express purpose of pleasing God.  When determination is coupled with sincerity a person’s character can become extraordinary.

During the years that the Children of Israel wandered the desert unable to enter the Promised Land, Musa (as) [Moses] met and spent time with Khidr. A man whom the majority of scholars believe to have been a prophet.

Ibn Kathir narrates that one day Musa (as) [Moses] was asked by someone, “O Messenger of God, is there another man on earth more learned than you?”  Musa (as) [Moses] replied, “No!” believing that since God had allowed him to perform miracles and had given him the Torah, he must surely be the most learned man alive.  This however was not the case.  Musa (as) [Moses]’ encounter with Khidr teaches humankind that no one person can hold all the information available and that even though we may think we are wise and knowledgeable, the need to seek knowledge never ceases.  When Musa (as) [Moses] learned of Khidr’s existence, he asked to meet him.

God instructed Musa (as) [Moses] to take a live fish in a container.  When the fish disappeared, he would find the man he sought.  Musa (as) [Moses] set out on his journey, accompanied by a young man who carried the container with the fish.  They reached a place where two rivers met and decided to rest there.  Instantly, Musa (as) [Moses] fell asleep.  While he was asleep, his companion saw the fish wriggle out of the vessel into the river and swim away.  However, he forgot to inform Musa (as) [Moses].

When Musa (as) [Moses] awoke, they continued their journey until they were exhausted and hungry.  Musa (as) [Moses] asked for a meal.  Only then did his companion recall that the fish had gotten away.  Hearing this, Musa (as) [Moses] cried, “This is exactly what we are seeking!”  They hurriedly retraced their steps to the place where the rivers met and where the fish had jumped out.

When Musa (as) [Moses] realised that they had taken the wrong direction, he immediately turned back.  He did not push forward hoping that he could save face, or time, he acknowledged that his path was incorrect and he changed his way.  In this life, so many of us choose the wrong path but are afraid or too embarrassed to turn and face in a different direction.  There are great lessons to be taken from the actions of Prophet Musa (as) [Moses]. Once a person realizes he is heading in the wrong direction in life he must immediately turn around and get back onto the Straight Path. One should not consider this a defeat; rather, it is a victory.

When Musa (as) [Moses] returned to the correct path, he met Khidr. It was a meeting designed to bring forth knowledge.  This momentous story of the meeting of Musa (as) [Moses] and Khidr is narrated in Quran in Chapter 18, The Cave.

“Musa (as) [Moses] said to him, “May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgment?” He said, “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience. And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?” Musa (as) [Moses] said, “You will find me, if Allah wills, patient, and I will not disobey you in any order.” He said, “Then if you follow me, do not ask me about anything until I mention it to you.” So they set out, until when they had embarked on the ship, al-Khidhr damaged it. Musa (as) [Moses] said, “Have you damaged it to drown its people? You have certainly done a grave thing.” Al-Khidhr said, “Did I not say that with me you would never be able to have patience?” Musa (as) [Moses] said, “Do not blame me for what I forgot and do not cover me in my matter with difficulty.” So they set out, until when they met a boy, al-Khidhr killed him. Musa (as) [Moses] said, “Have you killed a pure soul for other than having killed a soul? You have certainly done a deplorable thing.” Al-Khidhr said, “Did I not tell you that with me you would never be able to have patience?” Musa (as) [Moses] said, “If I should ask you about anything after this, then do not keep me as a companion. You have obtained from me an excuse.” So they set out, until when they came to the people of a town, they asked its people for food, but they refused to offer them hospitality. And they found therein a wall about to collapse, so al-Khidhr restored it. Musa (as) [Moses] said, “If you wished, you could have taken for it a payment.” Al-Khidhr said, “This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.  As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to defect it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force. As for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should substitute for them one better than him in purity and nearer to mercy. And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.” (Quran 18:66-82)

The story of Musa (as) [Moses] and Khidr reminds us that God is the Most Wise.  For the frail human being life can hold great joy and laughter but sometimes we are beset by trials, tragedies, and calamities that seemingly make no sense.  As believers we should believe  that whatever God’s decree is it stems from His Supreme and Absolute Wisdom.

Source: http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/3366/viewall/

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] (part 1 of 7): The Tale Begins

This is a tale of intrigue and deception, of jealousy, pride, and passion… and it is not The Bold and the Beautiful.  It is a saga of patience, loyalty, bravery and compassion… and it is not Dr Phil or Oprah.  It is the story of Prophet Yusuf (as) [Joseph], may God shower him with His praises.  The same Yusuf (as) [Joseph] known from the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the same Prophet Yusuf (as) [Joseph] known in Christian and Jewish traditions.  God revealed this story to Prophet Muhammad when an Israelite asked him to tell him what he knew about Yusuf (as) [Joseph].[1]  Stories in Quran are usually told in small bit and made known over several chapters; the story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] however, is unique.  It was revealed in one chapter, from the beginning to the end.  It is the complete story and experience of Prophet Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  We learn about Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s joys, troubles and sorrows, and move with him through the years of his life as he arms himself with piety and patience, and in the end emerges victorious.  The story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] begins with a dream, and ends with the dream’s interpretation.

“We relate unto you (Muhammad) the best of stories through Our Revelations unto you, of this Quran.  And before this (i.e. before the coming of Divine Inspiration to you), you were among those who knew nothing about it.” (Quran 12:3)

Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s Childhood

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was young boy, handsome, happy and very much loved by his father.  He awoke one morning excited about a dream and ran straight to his father happily explaining what he had seen in his dream.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s father listened attentively to his beloved son and his face shone with joy, for Yusuf (as) [Joseph] related a dream that spoke of the fulfilment of a prophecy.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] said,

“O my father!  Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating themselves to me.” (Quran 12:4)

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was one of 12 brothers whose father was Prophet Jacob and whose great grandfather was Prophet Abraham.  This prophecy spoke of keeping Abraham’s message to worship One True God alive.  Prophet Abraham’s grandson Jacob interpreted the dream to mean that Yusuf (as) [Joseph] would be the one to carry the ‘Light of God’s house”[2]  However as quickly as the joy had sprung into Jacob’s face, it vanished, and he implored his son not to relate his dream to his brothers.  Jacob said,

“O my son!  Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they arrange a plot against you.  Verily!  Satan is to man an open enemy!  Thus will your Lord choose you, teach you the interpretation of dreams (and other things), and perfect His Favour on you and on the offspring of Jacob, as He perfected it on your fathers, Abraham, and Isaac aforetime!  Verily!  Your Lord is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Quran 12:5-6)

Jacob knew that his sons (Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s brothers) would not accept the interpretation of this dream or the advancement of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] over themselves.  Jacob was filled with fear.  The ten older brothers were already jealous of their younger brother.  They recognised their father’s particular affection for him.  Jacob was a prophet, a man dedicated to submission to One True God and he treated his family and his community with fairness, respect and equitable love; however his heart was drawn to the gentle qualities evident in his son Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] also had a younger brother named Benjamin, who, at this stage of the story, was too young to be involved in any of the trickery and deception brewing.

While Prophets and righteous men are eager to spread the message of submission to God, Satan is waiting to entice and incite mankind.  He loves trickery and deception and was now sewing the seeds of discord between Jacob and his elder sons.  The jealousy the brothers felt toward Yusuf (as) [Joseph] blinded their hearts, disoriented their thinking and made small things seem insurmountable, large things seeming insignificant.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] heeded his father’s warning and did not speak of his dream to his brothers; but even so, they became obsessed and overwhelmed by their jealousy.  Without knowing about Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s dream, they hatched a plan to kill him.

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and Benjamin were the sons of Jacob’s second wife.  The older boys considered themselves men.  They were older, they were stronger and saw in themselves many good qualities.  Blinded by jealousy, they perceived Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and Benjamin as too young and without consequence in the life of the family.  They refused to understand why their father doted on them.  The older boy’s crooked thinking made them accuse their father of being misguided which, in reality, was far from the truth.  Satan made their thoughts fair seeming to them and their utter misguidance was shown clearly, when they spoke of killing Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and immediately repenting to God for this despicable act.

“They said, “Truly, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and his brother are loved more by our father than we, but we are a strong group.  Really, our father is in a plain error.  Kill Yusuf (as) [Joseph] or cast him out to some (other) land, so that the favour of your father may be given to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending to repent).” (Quran 12:8-9)

One amongst them felt the error of their ways and suggested that rather than killing Yusuf (as) [Joseph], they should drop him into a well.  When found by some passing traveller he would be sold into slavery, thus rendering him as good as dead to the family.  They believed, in their blindness, that the absence of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] would remove him from their father’s thoughts.  The brothers continued to hatch their evil plan.  Satan was toying with them, casting thoughts into their minds and whispering misguidance into their ears.  The brothers finished their discussion pleased with themselves and believing they had drafted a clever plan.  They approached Jacob with   a plan to take Yusuf (as) [Joseph] into the desert with them, on the pretext of letting him play and enjoy himself.  Fear leapt into Jacob’s heart.


Footnotes:

[1] Ibn Katheer.  Stories of the Prophets.

[2] Ibid.

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] (part 2 of 7): Treachery and Deception

“And Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not.” (Quran 12:21)

The story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] confirms unconditionally that God has total control over all affairs.  The treachery and deception of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s brothers succeeded only in preparing Yusuf (as) [Joseph] for the great position he would eventually attain.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s story describes God’s omnipotence and gives an accurate account of His power and supremacy.  The story begins with deception but ends with comfort and joy.  A fitting reward for the patience and total submission to God’s will, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] exhibits throughout his long journey confronting the schemes and treachery of those around him.

The patience Yusuf (as) [Joseph] learned from his ordeal made him amongst the most righteous of men.  His lineage was impeccable, his great grandfather, grandfather and father were also Prophets.  In Christian and Jewish tradition, these men are known as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deception and Treachery

When Jacob’s older sons sought permission to take Yusuf (as) [Joseph] with them deep into the desert to play, fear leapt into Jacob’s heart.  From their first words, he suspected treachery and expressed his fear that a wolf would take Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  Jacob said,

“Truly, it saddens me that you should take him away.  I fear lest a wolf should devour him, whilst you are careless of him.” (Quran 12:13)

Satan works in subtle and deceitful ways, and with his words, Jacob unwittingly supplied his sons with the perfect reason for Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s disappearance.  The brothers immediately knew they would blame Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s disappearance on a wolf, and this   became part of their dastardly plan.  Eventually Jacob agreed and Yusuf (as) [Joseph] left with his brothers on their journey into the desert.

They went directly to the well and without remorse, picked up Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and threw him down into the well.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] cried out in fear but their cruel hearts felt no pity for their young brother.  The brothers felt secure in their plan that a traveller would find Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and sell him into slavery.  While Yusuf (as) [Joseph] called out in terror, the brothers took a small goat or sheep from their flock, slaughtered it and wiped the blood over one of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s garments.  Completely consumed by their jealousy, the brothers took an oath to keep their foul deed secret and walked away pleased with themselves.  Terrified Yusuf (as) [Joseph] clung to a ledge in the well, and God made known to him that one day he would confront his brothers.  He told Yusuf (as) [Joseph] the day would come when he would speak to his brothers about this dastardly event, but the brothers would not know they were talking to Yusuf (as) [Joseph].

“Indeed, you shall (one day) inform them of this their affair, when they know (you) not.” (Quran 12:15)

Crying is not Evidence of Truth.

The brothers returned to their father weeping.  By this time it was dark, and Jacob was sitting in his house anxiously awaiting the return of Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  The sound of ten men crying confirmed his deepest fear.  The darkness of the night was matched only be the darkness in their hearts.  The lies rolled easily from their tongues and Jacob’s heart constricted in fear.

“They said, ‘O our father!  We went racing with one another, and left Yusuf (as) [Joseph] by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us, even when we speak the truth.’  And they brought his shirt stained with false blood.” (Quran 12:17-18)

In a story from the righteous men that came after Prophet Muhammad comes a tale of a Muslim judge who was deciding the case of an old woman.  The details of the case are not important; however, the old woman was crying and crying.  Based on the evidence the judge ruled against her.  A friend of the judge said, “She was crying and crying, she is old, why didn’t you believe her?”  The judge said “Don’t you know from Quran that crying is not evidence of the truth, the brothers of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] went to their father crying.”  They were crying but they committed the crime.

Both Jacob and Yusuf (as) [Joseph] were among the most noble of men.  Prophet Muhammad described Yusuf (as) [Joseph] as the most dignified and generous of men.  When asked who was the most God fearing man he replied, “The most honourable person is Yusuf (as) [Joseph], God’s prophet, the son of God’s prophet, the son of the beloved servant of God (Abraham).”[1]  While Yusuf (as) [Joseph] sat in the well, terrified, yet secure in his submission to God, Jacob, many miles way, felt his heart constricted by fear and pain yet knew his sons were lying.  As befitting a Prophet of God, with tears streaming down his face, Jacob said,

“Nay, but your own selves have made up a tale.  So (for me) patience is most fitting.  And it is God (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.” (Quran 12:18)

This was a dilemma for Jacob, what was he to do?  He knew his sons were lying, but what were his options?  To kill his sons?  Due to his complete submission to God, Jacob knew that this affair was out of his hands.  He had no option but to trust God and turn to Him with hope and patience.

Deep in the well, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] prayed.  Father and son turned to God in the deep darkness of the night.  A mixture of fear and hope filled their hearts, and the night gave way to the new day.  For Jacob, the day dawned on the beginning of many years to be filled with trust in God and patience.  For Yusuf (as) [Joseph], the sunrays of dawn shone down on the edges of the well.  If he could have scanned the horizon, he would have seen a caravan approaching.  Minutes later a man lowered his bucket into its depths of the well expecting to find cool clear water.


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] (part 3 of 7): Sold into Slavery

Lead astray by the whisperings of Satan and filled with jealousy and pride, the brothers deceived their father Jacob and betrayed their young brother.  Thrown deep into a well by his older brothers, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] the beloved son of Prophet Jacob, clung   throughout the long night to a ledge and tried to put his trust in God.  The time passed slowly and  the heat of the morning sun beat down heavily on the scorched earth.  Later that day a caravan travelling to Egypt approached the well.

When the caravan arrived. the travellers went about their business, some tethering camels, others tending to the horses, some unpacking, and others preparing food.  The water drawer went to the well and lowered his bucket, happy in anticipation of cool, clear water.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was startled as the bucket hurtled towards him. but before it hit the water, he reached out and clung to the rope.  Surprised by the weight of the bucket, the man peered over the edge of the well.  He was shocked and excited when he saw a child clinging to the rope.  The man called his companions to help him draw the child from the well and all were amazed at the sight of this beautiful child, not quite a youth, who stood before them.

Looking at the boy, the water bearer could not hide his excitement and cried aloud, “What good news!”  (Quran 12:19)  The man was overjoyed; he immediately decided to sell Yusuf (as) [Joseph], knowing that he stood to make a lot of money in the slave market.  Just as the brothers had predicted, the men of the caravan took Yusuf (as) [Joseph] to Egypt expecting to sell him for a handsome price.  The slave markets of Egypt were teeming with people, some buying, and some selling, others just watching the proceedings.  The beautiful boy found in the well attracted many onlookers, and bidding for him was swift.  The price continued to rise beyond their expectations, and Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was eventually purchased by Azeez, the Chief Minister of Egypt.

However, God tells us in the Quran that they sold him for a low price. (12:20) This does not seem to make sense since the men of the caravan were jubilant by the price they received.  God described the price as low because Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was actually worth more then they could ever have imagined.  The men did not realise just who this child would grow up to be.  They believed that although beautiful, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was insignificant.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, if they had of sold him for his weight in gold, it would have been a cheap price for the man who would grow up to be Yusuf (as) [Joseph], Prophet of God.

In the House of Azeez

The Chief Minister, Azeez, sensed immediately that this was no ordinary child.  He took him to his home, one of the great mansions of Egypt, and said to his wife,

“‘Make his stay comfortable, may be he will profit us or we shall adopt him as a son.’  Thus did We establish Yusuf (as) [Joseph] in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of events.” (Quran12:21)

God placed Yusuf (as) [Joseph] into the home of the second most important person in Egypt.  Chief Minister Azeez was more then just a prime minister, he was also the treasurer of Egypt.  God established Yusuf (as) [Joseph] in the land in order to teach him wisdom and understanding.  The struggling and striving required by Yusuf (as) [Joseph] to overcome the separation from his father and family, the difficulty of being betrayed by your older presumably protective brothers, the ordeal in the well and the humiliation of being sold into slavery were all trials designed to mould Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s character.  They were the first steps on the ladder to greatness.  God used the treachery of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s brothers to fulfil His plan for Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s establishment as a Prophet of God.

The brothers of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] believed they had matters under control when they put their brother in the well, but in reality, the matter was out of their hands.  God is the one in control of all affairs.  God was decisive in His action, and His plan was carried out despite the treachery, jealousy  and pride of others.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] found himself in the decision making centre of Egypt with a man who seemed kind and somehow aware of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s special qualities.  While longing for his father and brother Benjamin, Yusuf (as) [Joseph]  was well taken care, and lived in luxurious surroundings.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] grew to manhood in the house of Azeez and God bestowed on him good judgement and knowledge.

“And when he (Yusuf (as) [Joseph]) attained his full manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge (the Prophethood), thus We reward the doers of good.” (Quran12:22)

God granted Yusuf (as) [Joseph] both knowledge and wisdom.  Not one just one, but both qualities.  He was given the ability to understand and the ability to use good judgement when applying his knowledge.  This is not always the case.  There are many people throughout the history of the world, up to and including the present day, who have knowledge but do not have the ability or judgement to apply that knowledge in an effective way.

One of the great scholars of Islam, Imam Abu Haneefa, held regular learning circles in which presented a topic for debate.  The topic would be discussed and opinions given, then Imam Abu Haneefa would give a final verdict.  This way of teaching was unique at that time.  There was amongst this circle of learning a scholar of the narrations of Prophet Muhammad; he recited one that Imam Hanifa  had never heard before.  Just at that time, a woman approached the circle and asked a question.  The scholar replied that he did not  know the answer, but  Imam Abu Hanifa  was able to answer her question.  He then turned to the members of the learning circle and said.  “I know the answer to this question from the hadeeth our brother had just mentioned”.  Thus, it is possible to have the knowledge but not know how to apply it.  Prophet Yusuf (as) [Joseph], as with all the Prophets of God was given the knowledge and the wisdom to understand and apply it.

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] (part 4 of 7): Beauty and a Test

Although betrayed and sold into slavery, Yusuf (as) [Joseph], the son of Prophet Jacob, settled into one of the great houses of Egypt.  His master, Al Azeez, Chief Minister of Egypt vowed to treat Yusuf (as) [Joseph] kindly, and Yusuf (as) [Joseph], who was grateful for the relative safety, replied that he would be loyal to his new master.  He thanked God for rectifying his situation and placing him in a place devoid of maltreatment and abuse.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] went from the position of beloved son to the dark depths of the well, from iron shackles to a position of ease.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s life twisted and turned, but the house of Al Aziz was where he grew into manhood.

The scholars of Islam have estimated that Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was around 14 years old when betrayed by his brothers.  Imam Ibn Katheer, one of the most respected Quran scholars, explained in his work, “Stories of the Prophets”, that Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was most probably the personal attendant of Al Aziz’s wife.  Ibn Katheer described Yusuf (as) [Joseph] as obedient, polite and exceedingly handsome.  Prophet Muhammad also described Yusuf (as) [Joseph], and called him “The embodiment of half of all beauty”[1].  As Yusuf (as) [Joseph] grew, God gave him wisdom and good judgement, and Chief Minister Al Aziz recognised these qualities in his loyal servant and therefore put him in charge of all household affairs.  All who knew him, including the wife of Al Aziz, acknowledged Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s beauty, honesty, and nobility.  She watched Yusuf (as) [Joseph] grow into a handsome man and became more attracted to him as each day passed.

The Trial

“And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him (to do an evil act), she closed the doors and said: ‘Come on, O you.’” (Quran 12:23)

The beautiful wife of Al Aziz closed the doors and tried to seduce the slave Yusuf (as) [Joseph], but he resisted her advances and sought refuge with God.  He sought help in God.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] told her he would not betray her husband.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] said, “He has been good to me and treated me with respect.”  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] knew that those who commit evil acts will never be successful.  The wife of al Aziz had an evil desire and tried to act upon it; Yusuf (as) [Joseph] however resisted the temptation and tried to escape.  Prophet Muhammad tells us that if you make the intention to commit an evil act and actually carry out that act, God will have it written against you as one evil act.  However if you think about committing an evil act and then do not do it, God will have it written as a good act.[2]

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] drove any thoughts of sleeping with the wife of his master from his mind, sought refuge with God and attempted to remove himself from the complicated situation.  Perhaps Yusuf (as) [Joseph] had been resisting her advances for many years.  A rich beautiful woman from the highest echelons of Egyptian society would not stoop immediately to such behaviour.  Her beauty, status and wealth meant that most men or boys would succumb to her desires easily.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] however was no ordinary man, and when he immediately turned to God for help, God rescued him.

“Indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her desire had he not seen the evidence of his Lord.  Thus, it was that We might turn away from him evil and illegal sexual intercourse.  Surely, he was one of Our chosen, guided slaves.” (Quran 12:24)

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] is one of the leaders of those who will be shaded by God on the Day of Judgement.  Prophet Muhammad explained that the heat of the Day of Judgment would be fierce, and people will be mingling with fear as they wait to be judged by God.  There will be however, certain categories of people shaded from this brutal heat.  One of them is a man who resisted the temptations of a beautiful, desirable woman by seeking refuge with God.[3]

Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s refusal only increased her passion.  He tried to flee and they raced with each other to the door.  The wife of Al Aziz reached for Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s shirt and tore it from his back.  At that moment, the door opened and her husband walked in.  Immediately, with out even one second’s hesitation, the wife of al Aziz attempted to turn the situation around.  She cried out to her husband, “What is the punishment for one who had an evil design against your wife?”  This was a clear lie, yet she pronounced it easily and suggested that Yusuf (as) [Joseph] be put in prison.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] tried to defend himself and said, “No, it was she that sought to seduce me”(Quran 12:25 – 26)  One of their relatives suddenly appeared and offered a way to solve this dilemma.  He said,

“If it be that his shirt is torn from the front, then her tale is true, and he is a liar!  But if it be that his shirt is torn from the back, then she has told a lie and he is speaking the truth!” (Quran 12:27 – 28)

If his shirt was torn from the back, which it was, it meant that he was trying to escape and she was running after him, tearing the shirt from his back.  The proof was unmistakeable.  The Chief Minister, although clearly upset, was more concerned with covering up this affair.  He did not want his good name and position to be sullied by a scandal.  He asked Yusuf (as) [Joseph] to be silent about the situation and told his wife to ask forgiveness from God.  This should have been an end to the matter, but as is common in more wealthy societies, people have a lot of time on their hands.  Many hours are wasted having meals and gossiping about the affairs of their friends, neighbours and relatives.

The Women

The women of the city began to talk about the wife of Al Aziz and her infatuation with her slave Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  The news was spreading and the women asked themselves how she could desire a slave and put her reputation in jeopardy.  The wife of Al Aziz thought she would teach these women a lesson and show them just how beautiful and desirable Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was.  She invited them to have lunch with her, laid a beautiful table before them and handed them knives to cut the food.  The room was probably full of tension and silent looks as the women hoped for a glimpse of this slave, while at the same time considering themselves better then the wife of Al Aziz.  The women started eating, and at that moment, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] walked into the room.  They looked up, saw his beauty and forgot that they had knives in their hands.  The women were so entranced by his shape and form that they cut clear through their own flesh.  They described Yusuf (as) [Joseph] as a noble angel.  The wife of Al Aziz, confident and haughty said to her guests,

“This is he (the young man) about whom you did blame me (for his love) and I did seek to seduce him, but he refused.  And now if he refuses to obey my order, he shall certainly be cast into prison, and will be one of those who are disgraced.”  Quran 12:32)

What was to become of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]?  Once again, with total humility, he turned to God saying that prison was preferable to succumbing the women’s desires.  Therefore, his Lord answered his invocation.


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Muslim

[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

[3] Ibid.

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] (part 5 of 7): From Prison to Palace

The story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] is an example of patience in the face of adversity.  Throughout his life so far, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] faced trials and tribulations with complete trust in God.  Yet once again, he was in an extremely difficult situation.  Once more, he was forced to fend off the advances of the wife of Al Aziz, this time in front of her associates.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] called out to God for help.  He said,

“O my Lord!  Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me.  Unless You turn away their plot from me, I will feel inclined towards them and be one of those who commit sin and deserve blame or those who do the deeds of the ignorant.” (Quran 12:33)

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] believed living in prison was preferable to living in the house of Al Aziz.  The environment was filled with lust and greed, and with unlawful beauty and seduction, perhaps similar to many societies today.  He believed prison would be preferable to succumbing to the fitnah[1]  around him.  God answered Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s supplication and rescued him.

“So his Lord answered his invocation and turned away from him their plot.  Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.  Then it appeared to them, after they had seen the proofs (of his innocence) to imprison him for a time.” (Quran 12:34-35)

Although convinced of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s innocence, Al Aziz, chief Minister of Egypt put Yusuf (as) [Joseph] in prison.  He could see no other way of safeguarding the reputation of his name and position.

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] in Prison

Imprisoned with Yusuf (as) [Joseph], were two men who recognised his piety and righteousness.  Both had been plagued by vivid dreams and now hoped Yusuf (as) [Joseph] would be able to interpret the dreams for them.  One man saw a dream in which he was pressing wine, the other; saw a dream in which birds were eating bread from his head.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] said, “I will inform you of the meaning of these dreams before your next meal is served”.

“He said, ‘No food will come to you (in wakefulness or in dream) as your provision but I will inform (in wakefulness) its interpretation before it (the food) comes.  This is of that which my Lord has taught me.  Verily, I have abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in God and are disbelievers in the Hereafter.  And I have followed the religion of my fathers, – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and never could we attribute any partners whatsoever to God.  This is from the Grace of Allah to us and to mankind, but most men think not (i.e. they neither believe in Allah nor worship Him).’” (Quran 12:37-38)

Notice the demeanor of Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  When they ask him a question about dreams he immediately reminds them that it is God who provides their sustenance, as well as his own  knowledge of dream interpretation. Yusuf (as) [Joseph] is very careful to make a distinction between what is from God and what is from himself.  He makes his religion clear.  He does not believe the religion being practiced around him but believes in the true religion that includes belief in the Hereafter.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] asserts that his family, the family of Abraham, hold the knowledge of the Oneness of God, and that his religion and family do not attribute partners to God.  Although the people of Egypt knew about God they choose to worship other deities as partners or intercessors.

After informing his companions that false gods have no substance and explaining the Omnipotence of God, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] interprets the dreams.  He says, one of you will become a close associate of the King, the other will be crucified and birds will eat from his head.

“As for one of you, he (as a servant) will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other, he will be crucified and birds will eat from his head.  Thus is the case judged concerning which you both did inquire.” (Quran 12:41)

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] approached the companion who destined to be close to the King and said “please remember me to your King”.  He hoped that the King would look into his case, see his oppression and free him.  However, the whisperings and subterfuge of Satan, caused the companion to forget to mention Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and consequently he remained in prison for a few more years.  The scholars of Islam hold two different opinions about the nature of the forgetfulness.  Ibn Katheer mentions that the companion forgot to mention Yusuf (as) [Joseph], whereas other scholars focus on the possibility that Yusuf (as) [Joseph] forgot to seek the help of God, and thus the companion forgot to mention him. Whatever the case, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] remained in prison and continued to trust in God with patience and fortitude.

The King’s Dream

The King dreamed he was standing on the banks of the Nile watching  seven fat cows emerge from the river, followed by seven lean ones. The seven lean cows devoured the fat ones. Next, the dream changed and he watched seven green ears of grain growing on the banks of the Nile.  They disappeared into the mud and on the same spot grew seven dry ears of grain. The King awoke shocked and frightened, and sent for his sorcerers, priests and ministers.  They failed to interpret the dream and reached the unanimous conclusion that it was just a nightmare. Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s companion from the prison came to hear of the dream and remembered Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  With the King’s permission, he rushed to the prison and asked Yusuf (as) [Joseph] to interpret the dream.

“Yusuf (as) [Joseph] said, ‘For seven consecutive years, you shall sow as usual and that the harvest which you reap you shall leave in ears, all –except a little of it which you may eat.  Then will come after that seven hard years, which will devour what you have laid by in advance for them, all except a little of that which you have guarded (stored).  Then thereafter will come a year in which people will have abundant rain and in which they will press wine and oil.’” (Quran 12:47-49)

The King was astonished at this interpretation, not only did Yusuf (as) [Joseph] give the meaning but also recommended a course of action. The King demanded Yusuf (as) [Joseph] be bought before him. However, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] refused to leave prison and insisted the messenger return to the King and ask him, “What happened to the women who cut their hands?” (Quran 12:50)  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] did not want to leave the prison until his innocence was established.


Footnotes:

[1] Fitnah is an Arabic word that does not translate easily into English.  It means a time of trial or tribulation.  Most particularly a situation that prevents one from worshipping God correctly, or causes acts of disobedience or disbelief..

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] (part 6 of 7): The Importance of Dreams

Prophet Mohammad said: “Every Prophet was sent to his nation exclusively, but I was sent to all mankind.”[1]  God sent Yusuf (as) [Joseph], son of Jacob, to the people of Egypt and supported him with abilities that were observable and made sense to the people the Yusuf (as) [Joseph] had been sent to guide.  At the time of Yusuf (as) [Joseph], dreams and dream interpretation were very important, and this is clear throughout the story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  Prophet Jacob (Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s father), the companions of the prison and the King of Egypt all have dreams.

When the King heard Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s interpretation of his dream, he was astonished, and set Yusuf (as) [Joseph] free.  However, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] refused to leave the prison with out clearing his name of any wrongdoing.  He wanted his master Al Aziz to be completely sure that he (Yusuf (as) [Joseph]) had not betrayed his trust.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] respectfully demanded that the King investigate the affair of the women who cut their hands.  The King became curious and called for the wife of Al Aziz and her associates.

“(The King) said (to the women), ‘What was your affair when you did seek to seduce Yusuf (as) [Joseph]?’  The women said, ‘God forbid!  No evil know we against him!’  The wife of Al-’Aziz said, ‘Now the truth is manifest (to all), it was I who sought to seduce him, and he is surely of the truthful.’” (Quran 12:51)

Once his innocence was established, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] appeared before the King.  After hearing, Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s words the King became even more impressed and entrusted him to a position of high rank.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] said, “Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge.” (Quran 12:55) In the religion of Islam, it is not permissible for one to ask for a position of authority or two talk about oneself in a boastful manner.  However when Yusuf (as) [Joseph] asked the King to put him in charge of the storehouses he did both of those things.

The scholars of Islam explain that when you are the only person fit for that position then it is permissible to ask for it, and if you are new to a community, it is permissible to introduce yourself.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] knew the trials about to face Egypt and he knew he was capable of averting the danger inherent in a time of famine.  For Yusuf (as) [Joseph], not asking for this position would have been irresponsible.  The young boy betrayed and thrown into the well was now established as the finance Minister of Egypt.  His patience and perseverance, and above all his total submission to the will of God had already resulted in great reward.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] knew however that the greatest reward for patience and righteousness would be in the hereafter.

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] Meets His Brothers

The time passed.  During the seven good years, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] prepared for the time of famine to come.  The drought and famine correctly prophesized by Yusuf (as) [Joseph] did not only affect Egypt, but also the surrounding lands including the place where Jacob and his sons were living.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] managed the affairs of Egypt so well there was enough grain to feed the people of Egypt and those in the surrounding areas.  As life became difficult and food scarce, people began to flock to Egypt to buy the grain Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was selling at a fair price.

Among those seeking provisions were Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s ten older brothers.  When the brothers were ushered into Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s presence, they did not recognise him. Yusuf (as) [Joseph] looked at his brothers and his heart filled with longing for his father and his young brother Benjamin.  He greeted them respectfully, asked questions about their family and homeland, and explained that the rations of grain would be distributed per head; therefore, if they had bought their younger brother they would have received more rations.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] was hoping to encourage them to bring Benjamin, in fact Yusuf (as) [Joseph] went far as to say that without their young brother they would receive no provision at all.

“But if you bring him not to me, there shall be no measure (of grain) for you with me, nor shall you come near me.” (Quran 12:60)

When they returned to their father, Prophet Jacob, they explained to him that no more grain would be provided to them unless they travelled with their young brother.  Benjamin had become very close to his father, especially after Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s disappearance.  Remembering his previous loss, Jacob did not want to part with his young son.  Once again, the brothers promised to safeguard their youngest brother, and once again Jacob felt his heart constrict with fear.  The brothers then found that the money they paid for the grain had been secretly returned to them.

Jacob had complete trust in God and gave them permission to take Benjamin only after they had sworn an oath in God’s name to protect him.  Although Prophet Jacob was particularly close to his sons Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and Benjamin, he loved all his sons dearly.  They were strong, handsome, capable men, and Jacob was afraid that some harm might befall them on yet another trip to Egypt.  To minimise the risks, he made his sons promise to enter the city by different gates.  Jacob said to them,

“O my sons!  Do not enter by one gate, but enter by different gates, and I cannot avail you against God at all.  Verily!  The decision rests only with God.  In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him.” (Quran 12:67)

The brothers returned to Egypt, entered by different gates and went to Yusuf (as) [Joseph] for the promised provisions.  During this meeting, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] took Benjamin aside and revealed that he was his long lost brother.  The two embraced and their hearts were filled with joy.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph], however, asked Benjamin to keep their meeting a secret for the time being.  After providing the brothers with their rations of grain, Yusuf (as) [Joseph] arranged for golden bowl to be covertly placed in Benjamin’s bag, then according to Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s arrangements someone cried out,“O you in the caravan, surely you are thieves.” (Quran 12:70)

The brothers were astonished because they were not thieves.  They inquired about the stolen item, and were astounded to hear it was a golden bowl belonging to the King.  Whoever returned it, they were told, would be rewarded with camel’s load of grain.  The brothers of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] claimed to have no knowledge of this theft.  They asserted that they were not thieves and did not come to Egypt to create mischief.  One of Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s men asked, “What is your punishment for one who steals?”  The brothers replied that under the law of Prophet Jacob, the one who steals is taken as a slave.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] did not want his brother punished under the laws of Egypt but wanted the opportunity to keep his brother with him while the others retuned to their father Jacob.  The bags were searched, and the golden bowl was found amongst Benjamin’s possessions.


Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

The Story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] (part 7 of 7): Patience Rewarded

The golden bowl was found in Benjamin’s belongings and his brothers were astonished. They quickly realised the Chief Minister (Yusuf (as) [Joseph]) would follow their own law and keep Benjamin as a slave. This upset them greatly. They were afraid of returning to their father without his beloved youngest son. One of the brothers offered to accept the punishment on Benjamin’s behalf, but the offer was refused. Another brother, probably the eldest, chose to stay in Egypt while the others returned to their homeland to face their father Jacob. When the brothers arrived home they went immediately to their father and said,

“O our father!  Verily, your son (Benjamin) has stolen, we testify not except according to what we know, and we could not know the unseen! And ask (the people of) the town where we have been, and the caravan in which we returned, and indeed we are telling the truth.” (Quran 12:81-82)

Prophet Jacob had heard this all before. When the brothers betrayed Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and threw him in the well, they went to their father pleading and crying yet their words were nothing but lies. This time Jacob refused to believe them. He turned away from them saying, “Nay, but your own selves have beguiled you into something.  So patience is most fitting (for me).” (Quran 12:83) Jacob had spent years grieving for Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and trusting in God. When this new sorrow overwhelmed him, his first reaction was to be patient.  He knew, without a shred of doubt, that the affairs of his beloved youngest sons were controlled by God.

Even though he trusted God completely, Jacob behaved as any father would in the same circumstances.  He was overcome with grief and wept uncontrollably. He remembered Yusuf (as) [Joseph], and wept until he became ill and lost his sight.  The brothers were concerned about his pain and sorrow and questioned his constant grief.  They asked him, “Will you cry until the day you die?”  Jacob answered that he only complained of his grief and sorrow to God and that he (Jacob) knew, from God, things that they did not. (Quran 12:86)

Though many years had passed, Jacob had not forgotten his son Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  Jacob reflected on Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s dream and understood God’s plan would come to fruition.  Jacob was deeply hurt by the loss of his sons, but his faith in God sustained him, and he ordered his sons to go back to Egypt in search of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and Benjamin.

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] revealed

The brothers once again set off on the long journey to Egypt.  The famine had taken its toll on the surrounding areas and people were poor and weak.  When the brothers stood before Yusuf (as) [Joseph], they too were amongst the poor.  Their level of weakness forced them to ask for charity.  They said:

“O ruler of the land! A hard time has hit our family, and we have brought but poor capital, so pay us full measure and be charitable to us.  Truly, God does reward the charitable.” (Quran 12:88)

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] could not bear to see his family in this position, even though these were the men who had betrayed him.  He looked at his family and could keep his secret no longer, he said,

“Do you know what you did with Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and his brother, when you were ignorant?” (Quran 12:89)

The brothers recognised Yusuf (as) [Joseph] immediately, not because of his looks, for they had seen him many times before, however who else could know the true story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph], but Yusuf (as) [Joseph] himself.

“I am Yusuf (as) [Joseph], and this is my brother (Benjamin).  God has indeed been Gracious to us.  Verily, he who fears God with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, God makes not the reward of the good doers to be lost.” (Quran 12:90)

The brothers were afraid, their past deeds were grave sins, and they were now in a position of weakness. They stood in fear before the Chief Minister of Egypt no longer a small, beautiful boy named Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  Through his trials and tribulations, Yusuf (as) [Joseph], like his father, found comfort in submission to the One God.  He understood patience and the qualities of mercy and piety imbedded in true patience.  He looked down at his brothers who were trembling in fear and said, “No reproach of you this day, May God forgive you.” (Quran 12:91)

Yusuf (as) [Joseph] immediately made plans to reunite his family.  He requested the brothers return to their father and cast an old shirt of his (Yusuf (as) [Joseph]’s) over his face.  This, he said, would cause him to become clear sighted.  Immediately, although the old man was so far away he turned his face towards the heavens and sniffed, believing that he could smell Yusuf (as) [Joseph] in the air.  This is one of the miracles, made possible by God, of Prophet Yusuf (as) [Joseph].  When the brothers arrived, they cast the shirt over Jacob’s face and he became clear sighted.  He cried out,“Did I not say to you, I know from God, that which you know not.” (Quran 12: 96)

The family of Prophet Jacob gathered their belongings together and travelled to Egypt.  Jacob was eager to be reunited with his sons. They went straight to Yusuf (as) [Joseph] and found him sitting on an elevated throne.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] spoke to his family saying, enter Egypt, if God wills, in security.

The beginning of chapter 12 of the Quran, Yusuf (as) [Joseph], began with the young boy Yusuf (as) [Joseph] describing his dream to his beloved father Jacob.  He said, Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me.” (Quran 12:4)  Quran concludes the story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] in the same way as it began, with the interpretation of the dream.  The eleven stars were his brothers, the sun his father and the moon was his mother.

“And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate.  And he said, “O my father!  This is the interpretation of my dream of old!  My Lord has made it come true!  He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of prison, and brought you all here out of the Bedouin life, after Satan had sown enmity between my brothers and me.  Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will.  Truly He!  Only He is the All Knowing, the All-Wise.” (Quran 12:98-100)

The essence of the story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] is patience in the face of adversity and sorrow.  Yusuf (as) [Joseph] faced every trial with patience and complete trust in God.  His father Jacob bore his grief and misery with patience and submission.  All the chapters of Quran were revealed at particular times, in response to particular situations.  This chapter was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in a time of great sorrow.  In fact, the year of its revelation is known as “the year of sorrow’.  Prophet Muhammad had to bear the death of his beloved first wife Khadijah and his Uncle Abu Talib.  Both had provided him with comfort and support.  God was advising Prophet Muhammad that the road may be long and difficult but the ultimate victory belongs to those with God consciousness and patience.  The story of Yusuf (as) [Joseph] is a lesson for us all.  True patience, what the scholars of Islam call beautiful patience is a key to the gate of Paradise.

Source: http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1790/viewall/

The Story of Lut (as)

The Story of Lut (as) (part 1 of 2): The Life and Times of Sodom

God sent all the Prophets to their people with one message, to worship God alone and not to associate anything or anyone with Him.  However, God sent Prophet Muhammad to all of humankind.  Although his message was the same, he came with a new law, one to cover all people, in all places, at all times, even into a distant future continuing to the Day of Judgement.  The revelation of different chapters of Quran was often in response to a particular event or experiences of the Prophet and his followers.  The stories in the Quran teach lessons, provide the historical background of humankind, and demonstrate the nature of God.  The story of Prophet Lut (as) is one that is particularly pertinent in the 21st century.

In many cities across the world, it is unsafe to walk down the streets, even in daylight.  Murder is rife, identities stolen, and drugs abound.  Nowadays most children in high school have already encountered drug users and sellers.  Alcohol is freely available at corner stores, even though it is responsible for the break up of families, domestic violence and the corrosion of society.  Paedophilia is rampant, as is child pornography and human trafficking.  Degenerate lifestyles are accepted and even thought of as normal.  This description paints a picture of a scary, out of control world, but is it really so different from the time of Prophet Lut (as)?

The people of Lut (as) lived in a society very similar to our own.  It was corrupt, the people had no shame, criminals and criminal activity abounded, and those passing through the town of Sodom risked robbery and physical abuse.  The overall atmosphere of the town was not one of a cohesive society.  The people of Lut (as) were without morals, without standards and without shame.  The homosexuality that abounded did not exist in a vacuum, it was part of a lifestyle that not only allowed, but also encouraged vice and corruption.  It was to this town that God sent Prophet Lut (as); his message was to worship God alone.  However, embedded in worship are the desire and the willingness to obey God’s commandments?  The people of Sodom were content with their corrupt ways and had no desire to curb them.  Lut (as) became an annoyance and his words were ignored.

Prophet Lut (as) called the people to give up their criminal activities and indecent behaviour but they refused to listen.  Lut (as) confronted his people and admonished them.  He pointed out their corruption, their criminal activities and their unnatural sexual behaviour.

“Will you not fear God and obey Him?  Verily!  I am a trustworthy Messenger to you.  So fear God and obey me.  No reward do I ask of you for it (my Message) my reward is only from the Lord of all that exists.” (Quran 26:161-164)

In the last 20 or 30 years, it has become common to talk of homosexuality as a natural way of life, however according to God’s law and in all three heavenly religions, (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) this is not acceptable.  The new idea that homosexuality is somehow genetically determined is also rejected by Islam.  Quran clearly states that the people of Sodom were the first to practice this sexual aberration.

“Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds [i.e., peoples]? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women.  Rather, you are a transgressing people.”

The people of Sodom had reached such a level of degradation they no longer had any shame.  They would commit their unnatural acts in public or in private.  Satan was amongst them, and as is his way, he made their actions appear fair and wholesome.  When Lut (as) insisted they change their evil ways, they wanted to drive him out of town, as if by calling to purity, he was the one committing a great sin.  The people of Sodom said to Lut (as), “If you cease not, O Lut (as)!  Verily, you will be one of those who are driven out!” (Quran 26:167)  Lut (as) openly expressed his anger and fury at the evil deeds and unnatural acts and called on God to save him and his family from the evil of the people of Sodom.

In another part of the world, Prophet Abraham, the uncle of Prophet Lut (as), received three guests.  Known for his generosity, Prophet Abraham roasted a calf but to his dismay, the guests refused to eat.  This was very unusual.  Travellers are usually hungry and the fact that these guests refused his generosity made Prophet Abraham very uneasy.  The guests saw his uneasiness and   tried to put his fears to rest.  They said, “Do not be afraid!” (Quran 15:53) His fears allayed, Prophet Abraham asked his guests what business had bought them to his town.  They replied, “We have been sent to a people who are criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners”. (Quran 15:58)

The people of Sodom had become corrupt, believing their evil ways were acceptable.  Unfortunately, in the 21st century we have become so accustomed to evil and ignorance we are no longer able to respond in the correct manner.  We make excuses and try to justify evil behaviour but the fact is, when people continuously, and openly disrespect and disobey God we should be outraged. The angels took their leave from Prophet Abraham and made their way to the city of Sodom, in search of Prophet Lut (as) and his family.

The Story of Lut (as) (part 2 of 2): The Destruction of Sodom

Prophet Lut (as) continued to suffer due to the wicked ways and unnatural behaviour of the people around him, yet he patiently continued to deliver his message.  He called the people to give up their wicked ways and obey the One God, worshipping Him alone.  However, the townspeople continued to mock and belittle Lut (as), and even taunted him by challenging him to bring God’s torment upon them.

“Bring God’s torment upon us if you are one of the truthful.” (Quran 29:29)

Lut (as) was overwhelmed with despair and beseeched God to grant him victory over these people, who committed great crimes and behaved unnaturally.

At the time of Lut (as)’s invocation, the messengers (angels) were with Prophet Abraham so they informed him of their mission to Lut (as) and his people.  They said,

“And when Our messengers [i.e., angels] came to Abraham with the good tidings, they said, “Indeed, we will destroy the people of that [i.e., Lut (as)’s] city. Indeed, its people have been wrongdoers.” (Quran 29:31)

Abraham was afraid, his nephew Lut (as) was in the town of Sodom and it was about to be destroyed.  He said to the angels “but Lut (as) is there!”  They replied,

“We know better who is there, we will verily save him (Lut (as)) and his family, except his wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed).” (Quran 29: 32)

Renowned Islamic scholar, Imam Ibn Katheer narrates that, as the messengers approached the towns of Sodom they met Lut (as)’s daughter at the nearby river.  She was astounded at their beauty and feared for them.  She advised them to wait at the river for Prophet Lut (as), rather than enter the town without his protection.  When Lut (as) heard of the strangers, he felt distressed and wondered how he could convince them to bypass the towns of Sodom and continue on their travels.  He tried to make them understand the nature of the townspeople but only succeeded in convincing the messengers to wait for nightfall before entering the town.

Prophet Lut (as) managed to escort the messengers to the safety of his home; however, Lut (as)’s wife slipped out the back door and quickly told the people that two beautiful men were guests in Lut (as)’s home.  The word quickly spread and soon people were outside Lut (as)’s house, knocking on his door, demanding to see the guests.  Lut (as) became even more distressed when he realised his wife was responsible for the crowd at his door and he pleaded with the mob to disband and to fear the punishment of God.  He repeatedly appealed to them to seek sexual gratification in a lawful way.

“O my people!  Here are my daughters (i.e. the daughters of my nation); they are purer for you (if you marry them lawfully).  So fear God and degrade me not as regards my guests!  Is there not among you a single right-minded man?” (Quran 11:78)

The story of Lut (as), in both the Bible and the Quran hold remarkable similarities.  However, Islam completely rejects the notion that Prophet Lut (as) would offer his own daughters to the town’s people.  The scholars of Islam explain that when Lut (as) used the word “daughters” he meant the women of Sodom.  He was demanding that the men of Sodom seek sexual fulfilment in lawful marriages.

In his book Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Katheer states that the town’s people broke down the door and rushed inside Lut (as)’s house, surrounding the messengers.  Lut (as) was powerless before them yet he continued to plead and remind them of the evil of their ways.  The town’s people jeered and mocked him saying, “Surely you know that we have neither any desire nor in need of your daughters, and indeed you know well what we want!” (Quran 11:79).  The messengers reassured Lut (as) by saying “surely we are messengers from your Lord.” (Quran 11:81)  On hearing these words the towns people were afraid and started to disperse, leaving Lut (as) and his family alone with the messengers (angels).

The messengers allayed the fears of Prophet Lut (as) and instructed him to gather his family and leave the town of Sodom that night.  Lut (as) walked at the rear of his family to assure no one looked back on the towns of Sodom.  Lut (as)’s wife remained behind and was afflicted by the punishment along with the wrong doers and wicked townspeople.  The Quran describes the punishment as an awful cry that turned the town upside down and rained stones of baked clay. (Quran 15:73-74)

The punishment came at sunrise, and God said,

“So We saved him and his family, all, except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind.  Then afterward We destroyed the others.  And We rained on them a rain (of torment).  And how evil was the rain of those who had been warned.  Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers.” (Quran 26:170-174)

Thus, the pages were closed on the people of Lut (as).  Their names were erased from historical memory.  The punishment that God promised, and Prophet Lut (as) warned about, happened, for surely God keeps His promises.  He promises severe punishment for the wrongdoers and Paradise is the reward of the righteous.  Lut (as) and his family walked into the sunrise and Quran mentions them no more.


Source: http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1872/viewall/