InsightNovember December 2004

The Qur’anic view of Moses As a Messenger of God from the Children of Israel to Pharaoh

Irfan Ahmad Khan

The Qur’an makes more than one hundred references[1] to “Moses” and in different contexts discusses various aspects of Moses’ prophetic mission[2]. No other prophet of God is mentioned in the Qur’an so frequently or discussed in the Qur’an in such detail. In the following, we will briefly discuss the Quranic view of the prophetic history before Moses and try to understand the significance and importance of Moses’ work in that perspective. We shall examine in some details, various dimensions of the job Moses performed.

THE PLACE OF ABRAHAM IN THE HISTORY OF THE PROPHETS OF GOD

The Qur’an views the prophetic movement[3] as a systematic step by step process in which its earlier stages prepare the ground for its later stages. After Noah many prophets were sent to various parts of the civilized world[4] . Though they all had the same tawhidic message – they all called their people to end all corruption and mutual exploitation and invited them to become one family of the servants of God, Who is the One Lord of all human beings – none of these prophets was a messenger to the whole world. The Prophet Hud [5] was sent to `Ad, while the Prophet Salih[6] was sent to Thamud. And the case with other prophets of God before Abraham, who were sent to various lands at various times but whose names are not mentioned in the Qur’an,[7] should have been the same. In spite of the universal nature of their mission, none of these prophets was required to take his message outside the specific part of Mankind that was the special domain of his addressees. However, given the possibility that Noah came at a time when human population had not so scattered[8] over far off lands to make it impossible for one prophet to convey the Divine message to all human beings, the case of Noah was, in a way, different from these later prophets of God. Of course, like these later prophets Noah’s own people were still his addressees and like these later prophets, Noah was also a messenger to his nation. However, it is also true that, unlike these later prophets, it could be said only of Noah that he was a messenger to all human beings at that time.

However, if the above understanding of the Quranic interpretation of the history of the prophets is right, then at least one point is clearly true: there were no international prophets before Abraham[9] . After Noah when human beings scattered over far off lands, separate prophetic missions were sent to distant nations that were disconnected from each other. No one prophet could do the job. And when the time was ripe for the development of an international prophetic movement, Abraham was given the assignment to make a beginning. The question still remains: what was actually involved in Abraham’s initiating an international tawhidic movement?

According to the Quranic description of the above mentioned prophetic movements of the Pre-Abrahamic Era, each prophet before Abraham acted like a farmer who would watch his cultivation till its very end. It was he who would plough the land, throw the seed, do every thing that was required for a good crop and then, possibly, he would be there to reap the harvest. Apparently, the tawhidic movement initiated by each of these prophets repeated the same story. And the overall progress of the prophetic movement in this part of its history could be very well represented by a spiral movement.[10]

In the following we will try to understand the tawhidic movement of the prophets of God in the light of a brief description of the general pattern of the prophetic movements before Abraham. The Qur’an makes it quite clear that a prophet of God was sent at a time[11] when the human world became full of corruption ( fasad ) and injustice/oppression ( zulm ) due to prevalence of  shirk ( making partners with God ) or people’s utter failure to conduct themselves as fellow servants of God, Who is the One Lord of all human beings. Thus in much later history, Moses’ being sent “to the unjust people”[12] was not an exception. Starting with Noah all the prophets in the Pre-Abrahamic Era were also sent to peoples that had gone too far in their transgression against God and thereby filled the earth with corruption, oppression and bloodshed. The Qur’an explains that it is domination of Man over Man or lordship of Man which divides Mankind into conflicting groups[13]. In a shirk-based society, the rich and the powerful try to further exploit the poor and crush the weak.

Thus the tawhidic movements of the prophets of God in Pre-Abrahamic Era were, in fact, directed toward making humans One Community of fellow servants of One God again. – the way they were before shirk divided them. This co-`ubudiyah (fellowship of human beings as servants of One God alone) involved people’s having mutual concern and mutual respect and thereby sharing their resources with one another.

Quite naturally, whenever a prophetic movement was initiated, it started attracting pious and virtuous elements of human society. However, there were unjust people who did not show any inclination to change their evil ways. They were not at all interested in repenting and seeking God’s forgiveness. Rather, these unjust people considered the prophetic movement a threat to their unjust authority and to their selfish interests[14] . They stood in the way of the prophetic mission and created all sorts of problems for the believers. The prophets and their truthful followers were advised to face this opposition with great wisdom and tolerance, even returning good for evil[15] . However, the unjust opponents of the prophets, who were afraid of the growing popularity of the prophetic movement, instead of correcting themselves, started persecuting the believers even more seriously. These unjust people were ready to make some concessions to the prophetic movement only if it showed some relaxation for these opponents – ease up on their pure tawhidic approach which was quite uncompromising in the matters of Truth, Justice and Equality of Mankind. However, the prophets of God were not open to any bargain[16] .

As the situation worsened, a time came when the prophet and his believers, who were too weak and too small in number to be able to defend themselves, had no other choice but leave their homes[17] . When they had left, the Punishment of God came in the form of a natural catastrophe and the unjust people were totally wiped off. The virtuous people had, now, freedom to live in peace and justice under Divine Law.

For quite some time Mankind remained One Community of servants of One God – those who had material resources and political power in their hands were concerned with the deprived and down trodden sections of their society. There was mutual concern and mutual respect and all lived in peace and harmony. However, as the time passed shirk or lordship of Man again found a way to corrupt human life. And when the corruption spread beyond limits, it was again time for God to send another prophetic mission.

Coming of Abraham[18] marked a new stage in the history of the prophetic movement. Even a very cursory view at the stories of the prophets of God in the Qur’an, will make it clear to an intelligent reader that, according to the Qur’an, the coming of Abraham marked the beginning of an altogether new stage in the history of the prophetic movement. Abraham’s prophetic movement did not complete the above cycle of events the way that of Noah, Hud and  Salih did. The reason is obvious. Abraham had a much broader perspective in mind. Instead of leading his tawhidic movement to its natural end, on the pattern of these earlier prophets of God, ( taking care of its full development in one land and aiming at the completion of this job during his own lifetime), Abraham was basically interested in preparing the ground for the future progress of the prophetic movement in two different ways.

1. He would try to make his message reach throughout the world by throwing the seed of his tawhidic message over vast lands. Even though Abraham’s own people rejected the tawhidic message, Abraham never lost his hope concerning a bright future of Mankind. He always thought: maybe in the future an understanding would grow among the people and they would start thinking critically about their irrational ways. When he was leaving his family and his people he said, “I am migrating……to my Lord[19] . I am sure He will show me a way. (He will guide me: ‘where to go?’ and ‘what to do?’) He is Almighty All-Wise….. But please, think about it!”[20] He knew how the people lose the ability to see the Truth clearly when their vested interests are at stake. And he knew how one’s sins make one blind to guidance. Abraham, therefore, said to his father who, due to Abraham’s remaining firm in his stand that God alone is our Lord, threatened to stone him to death[21] , and told him to leave him alone: “I will pray that my Lord forgives you (and thereby makes this simple truth clear to you that worship of other than One God is totally unjustified). He is so kind to me.” [22]

He tried his best to convey his tawhidic message to the people and prayed to God that this message reaches out to coming generations in far off futures. [23]

Abraham was very rational and straightforward in his thinking and possessed the ability to say the Truth very clearly and fearlessly in any situation he faced. He, therefore, kept his focus on conveying the message as truthfully and as eloquently as possible.

2. At the same time Abraham was seriously concerned with the development of true leadership in his own children and grand children[24] . According to the Qur’an, Abraham was fully conscious of the fact that in this new emerging stage of the prophetic movement his own progeny may have to play an important role[25] . Likewise he knew the importance of a more stable community of believers which would carry on the tawhidic mission[26] . They would live this tawhidic message and take it to the rest of Mankind. This community of believers would, again, need a great prophet of God who would take care of its spiritual and moral development and thus prepare this believing community to do its job[27] . Abraham thought these expectations should be fulfilled by his own progeny. Given the response of the people outside his family, in his own life time, as well as the response to the prophets before him, Abraham was fully justified in his thinking that his own progeny should take the lead in creating a bright future for Mankind.

As the Qur’an repeatedly underlines, subsequent prophets[28] from the Children of Abraham made valuable contributions to the later prophetic movement. However, both Joseph and Moses occupied very unique places as two great leaders of Post-Abrahamic Prophetic Movement. As we will briefly explain in the following, in Egypt Joseph took Abraham’s tawhidic movement one big step forward and thus prepared the ground for the prophetic mission of Moses. However, in the Pre-Qur’anic tawhidic movement, it is greatly through Moses that the Abrahamic dream of a community of believers, which arises from his children to take his tawhidic message to the rest of Mankind[29] , is realized.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STORY OF JOSEPH

The Qur’an tells stories of various prophets of God in different Qur’anic surahs. Some of these stories are told repeatedly, in various contexts of different Qur’anic surahs, elaborating relevant parts of the same story. This is the case with stories of Noah, Hud, Salih, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and some other prophets who are discussed time and again in different Qur’anic surahs. However, over and above its detailed discussions in other surahs, one complete but relatively small surah is also devoted to the story of Noah – giving a total picture of what Noah did to convey the message, reviewing what was the response of his people and how the story ultimately concluded in a Divinely desirable end.[30] Interestingly, it is Noah himself who tells his own story. I mean, the surah consists mostly of quotations from Noah’s speeches and prayers. The surah opens with a brief introduction and in the middle of the story there is again one brief interlude from the Divine Author. A relatively much bigger surah is devoted to the only one detailed account of Joseph’s story[31] . It is called “the most beautiful story”. But why is it so called? The beauty of the Qur’anic presentation is beyond doubt. But it seems to us that according to the Qur’an, the story itself is beautiful. Of course, the way it is presented by the Qur’an makes it a great piece of literature! However, I suggest that we should see Joseph’s performance in history from the point of view of the success of the prophetic movement. Is it not the case that, given the perspective of the Pre-Abrahamic Prophetic Movement, and Joseph’s assignment in the Abrahamic Plan, Joseph was the most successful person?[32] What makes the story all the more beautiful, Joseph succeeded in spite of all Satanic plots[33] to put problems in his way.

As stated earlier, Moses did a great job in the fulfillment of Abraham’s dreams. But the very first step in this direction was taken by Joseph. It was Joseph who personally initiated Abraham’s tawhidic movement in, apparently, a new land. And when time was ripe for his brothers and their families to join, he invited them[34] . If we are right, never before has a community of believers had such a favorable starting point, to lead their tawhidic mission, as Joseph provided to the Children of Israel. Thus through Joseph, Abraham’s tawhidic movement obtained a firm foundation in Egypt.

Unlike Abraham, Joseph did not internationalize. Rather his prophetic movement had its locus in Egypt[35] . And this is the way he helped the Abrahamic cause and prepared the ground for the coming of Moses. He possessed the practical wisdom to work out the social and economic dimensions of Abraham’s tawhidic message in the concrete situation he faced in this new land. He was a very practical person who endeavored to give practical shape to Abraham’s ideas as he worked out his way through quite difficult circumstances but always looking for better and better opportunities for future progress of his work. He worked with great wisdom and planning and tried his best to utilize every occasion for his mission.

Joseph would never hesitate in conveying the tawhidic message to his addressees on any occasion if he thought he would be listened to with open ears. And then he would present his ideas in the most beautiful and convincing way. However, he was against creating unnecessary hurdles in his way. Therefore, if he thought his speaking out would create problems for the fulfillment of his future tawhidic plans, without any real gain, he would wait for a better opportunity to convey the Truth. What is most important, he knew the art of conducting himself as a truthful and honest person without creating a situation of conflict or clash. And, as a well-thought out policy of action, his main focus always remained on showing the worth of tawhidic way of life through his own performance

Joseph who was a man of principle possessed an exceptionally attractive personality. He was a balanced combination of excellent moral qualities. He knew both: how to make people realize their mistakes and then how to forgive them[36] .

HOW ARE JOSEPH AND ABRAHAM RELATED?

One important consideration was common in the two approaches of Joseph and his great grand father, Abraham. They both wanted to avoid completing a cycle of events on the pattern of Noah, Hud and Salih. They both wanted, for their actual and potential addresses, more time to think and understand. And they both were of the opinion that more than one generation of prophetic missions was required to obtain some real achievement for the tawhidic movement.

As we noticed in the above, Abraham was primarily concerned that the tawhidic message reaches out to the world. At the same time he was equally concerned that the Truth must be conveyed in all its purity. If some falsehood is also mixed with the Truth that, in any way, confuses the issue, then, in fact, the Truth has not been conveyed. Abraham would agree that while explaining our point we should not neglect the abilities of our addressees to understand. But he would emphasize that we convey our point so clearly that no doubt is left in the mind of the addressee concerning its content. The addressee must understand it, as essentially it is – even if he feels threatened with it or fails to appreciate it because something else is more important to him than the Truth. Thus Abraham, otherwise a very tolerant and compassionate person, was quite uncompromising in the matters of Truth and Justice.

However, Joseph, who was undoubtedly a truthful and honest person, was equally serious about his practical objectives in Egypt. As we stated earlier, Joseph was seriously concerned with taking the tawhidic movement one step further. Otherwise, in theory he would not disagree with the above points But according to him, as the basic purpose was to win the people over to the Truth rather than to antagonize them to the Truth, it was required that he act with caution. His emphasis was on working out, in practical life, the benefits of the tawhidic message and showing its beauty to the people. When he lived the tawhidic message in his own personal life, as a person in authority, every one could see the blessings.

MOSES’ SPECIAL CONCERNS WITH THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Joseph helped the Children of Israel in two ways:

1.Through Joseph’s practical performance and through his words of wisdom, the social environment in Egypt became more friendly to the Children of Israel and more favorable for the future growth of the tawhidic movement of their forefathers. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob[37] , who were all prophets of God, were seen by some Egyptians with respect and appreciation.

2. Then, at the end, he invited his brothers’ families and provided them with a respectable and comfortable place in Egypt. Obviously Joseph expected that his brothers and their children would work further for the tawhidic cause for which he has been preparing a ground.

Now as the Qur’an repeatedly[38] suggests, it was Moses’ assignment to prepare the Children of Israel for the leadership of the world. Over and above conveying the tawhidic message to the people around him – the job that the Qur’an underlines in connection with the prophets before him[39] – Moses had an additional responsibility. He was supposed to take care of the spiritual and moral development of the Children of Israel whom the Qur’an calls “his people” or “his qawm”. His people, unlike the peoples of Noah, Hud, Salih, Abraham and many other earlier prophets, had, for him, the status of a continuing community of believers of which he himself was a member by birth.

Obviously, believing is a way of committing oneself. And in the context of the prophetic movement, believing is committing to the tawhidic mission. However, in practice in almost all faith communities, faith is actually inherited and there are persons who even oppose one’s leaving his or her forefather’s religion and embracing another religion. When a child is borne into a specific religious community he or she has a better opportunity to know more about beliefs and practices of that faith community. There are reasons due to which the child develops a sense of belonging to his or her parent’s religion and then actually commits to it. However, following the religion of one’s forefathers blindly is what Abraham attacked vehemently and the same should have been the approach of Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. It is not difficult to understand how the prophetic movement after Abraham should have been concerned with turning this ‘belief (or iman) as a heritage’ into a true belief – something which is based upon understanding and leads to real commitment.

Both Abraham and Jacob had told their children to remain God’s obedient servants, till death. This implicitly involved their remaining attached with the believing community that these prophets of God were trying to develop and which very few outside their own family had joined. Abraham and Jacob said to their children, “God has chosen the Religion for you,”[40] that is, they were fortunate enough to be borne in the families of prophets of God and receive tawhidic education from their childhood and thereafter maintain their relationship with that believing community. The Qur’an reports that in his death bed Jacob asked his children: “Whom shall you worship after me?”. The children responded that they would worship the One God Whom Jacob himself worshipped and their forefathers, Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac worshipped.[41]

The Qur’an, apparently in the context of much later history, specifically discusses the inheritance of the Divine Book. The Qur’an remarks that all these chosen servants of God who inherited the Divine Book – were not on the same spiritual level. There were persons who were ( i ) unjust to themselves, who were ( ii ) lukewarm and those who were ( iii ) outstrippers in good works[42] . This division does give some idea of the work of regeneration that was required in the Children of Israel who represented such a community of believers. Being a prophet of God from the Children of Israel, Moses was their teacher and guide. Moses was deeply concerned that the Children of Israel conduct themselves as a community of true believers. Moses was endeavoring to assure that these people who were “obedient servants of God[43] ” by birth become truly God’s obedient servants and as such leaders of tawhidic movement. As the Qur’an repeatedly underlines, it was a very tough job[44] to do which needed great patience and wisdom. Only a great prophet of Moses’ caliber could do it!

It is interesting to note that the existence of such a special class of a prophet’s people is not mentioned in the Qur’an in connection with prophets before Abraham. In the above we briefly discussed Abraham’s place in the history of the prophetic movement. In fact, bringing this special class into existence, which was required for future stability of the tawhidic movement of the prophets of God that was now entering the international stage of its development, should be considered as one of the great achievements of Post Abrahamic Prophetic Movement. As we marked in the above, the Qur’anic descriptions of the prophetic movement underline Abraham’s serious concern with the spiritual and moral development of his own children and grand children the way it is not stated in connection with earlier prophets of God. This brought very special blessings of God to the Children of Abraham, which the Qur’an mentions repeatedly. (We will suggest that our readers just consider 6:83-90). And this very naturally created among the Children of Israel a strong sense of being a very special people. Moses’ most important concern was that Children of Israel should conduct themselves in a way which would justify this pride.

MOSES’ RELATIONSHIP WITH HUMAN BEINGS IN GENERAL

But what about Moses’ relationship with human beings in general. Obviously, like all earlier prophets of God, Moses also had a wider concern, outside the Children of Israel, with all human beings around him. The question arises: was it a concern of the same order which Noah, Abraham, and some other prophets who came in between and whose stories the Qur’an tells repeatedly, had with their people? We raise this question mainly due to the fact that, in the Qur’an, Moses does not call them “his people” as these prophets of God do.

In fact, it is very interesting to see that, in Quranic usage, concerning every prophet before Moses “his people” denoted that prophet’s immediate addressees in general – even though most of them did not show any inclination to believe in him, or to give, in any way, any support to his prophetic mission. Even Lot’s addressees are introduced in the Qur’an as “his people” and “his brethren” – may be due to the reason that he addressed them as “Brethren!”. However, in Moses’ case the Quranic usage of “his people” exclusively denotes the Children of Israel, with whom he had a very special relationship.

ACCORDING TO THE QUR’AN MOSES WAS SENT TO PHARAOH

We can not answer the above question without considering another very significant point. While the Qur’an says concerning Noah, Hud, Salih and Lot that each of these prophets was sent to his people (qawm), it nowhere says that Moses was sent to the Children of Israel or to his people. On the other hand, the Qur’an speaks of Moses’ being sent “to Pharaoh”[45] or “to Pharaoh and his chiefs (al- mala~)”[46] or “to Pharaoh, Haman and Qarun (Korah)”[47] or “to Pharaoh and his people[48] ”. As the Qur’an suggests, it was required that as the prophetic movement would enter the international stage of its development, there should be a community of the believers to lead the tawhidic movement[49] . The job earlier done by the prophets and messengers of God would be the responsibility of the believing community as a whole. Therefore, as a believing community, the Children of Israel, themselves, were supposed to carry on Abraham’s tawhidic mission. And Moses was doing it on their behalf. According to this Quranic interpretation, when Moses will go to Pharaoh, the Children of Israel will be behind him. This being the case, ‘Moses’ being sent to the Children of Israel’ will not make any sense. More correctly, the Children of Israel had already been sent to Pharaoh; Moses, who was part of them, was now commanded to take the lead. As we know, historically also, Joseph who was a prophet of God, invited other Children of Israel to Egypt and they were supposed to work for Abrahamic cause in this land where Joseph himself had been working for quite some time.

 As we stated earlier, initially the prophets of God were sent when the earth became full of corruption, oppression and bloodshed due to lordship of Man over Man. The efforts of these prophets of God were directed to make humans one community of fellow servants of One God again – the way they were before their being divided by shirk or lordship of Man. The same was the case with Moses. However, in Moses case, it is Pharaoh who was mainly responsible for this division among people of Egypt – Pharaoh’s people subjugating the Children of Israel and torturing them. Therefore, Moses was sent to Pharaoh to make an effort to make him repent and seek God’s forgiveness. Like the people of Noah, the people of Pharaoh, apparently, deserved Punishment from God. But God’s punishment would not come unless and until every effort has been made to make the unjust people repent and seek God’s forgiveness. This is a general principle which is repeatedly stated in the Qur’an[50] . Contrary to Pharaoh, Moses’ efforts were directed to make the people of Egypt One Community of the servants of one God again. And in this task the Children of Israel, as a community of believers and sons and daughters of the prophets of God who worked in the past for the same goal, were, supposedly, his main supporters. However, what made the situation all the more serious was the fact that it was this community of believers itself which was the main target of Pharaoh’s oppression and torture. Due to this reason, Moses was doubly concerned with the Children of Israel.

Qur’anic descriptions make it quite clear that Moses who presented himself as a messenger from the Lord of all human beings[51] was advocating no sectarian cause. Moses was against all injustice and oppression.  However, the greatest injustice in Egypt was being done to his own people[52] and, therefore, as a prophet of God it was his duty to stand against this injustice. Otherwise, Moses was, in fact, a well-wisher of the people of Egypt. And he was a well-wisher of Pharaoh himself. All he wanted from Pharaoh was that he stops his transgression, repents and corrects himself. Moses was interested that Pharaoh who had been acting arrogantly, purifies himself and takes care of his personal moral and spiritual development[53] . Divine suggestion to Moses was that he should speak to Pharaoh gently and from the very beginning should not rule out the possibility of his correcting himself[54] .

There is another clear sign of Moses’ universalistic approach. According to the Qur’an, Egyptians outside the Children of Israel were entering into Moses’ community of believers, while there were unjust persons like Korah who were originally from the Children of Israel but the Qur’an counts them as members of Pharaoh’s party[55] . The Qur’an mentions wife of Pharaoh as a believer[56] . Likewise magicians who originally came to support Pharaoh, joined Moses’ believing community when they noticed clear signs of Moses’ being true prophet of God[57] . In the following we will present some quotations from the speech of a believer from Pharaoh’s people who, apparently, occupied a high rank in Pharaoh’s court, but who had been hiding his belief.[58] He declares himself as a believer and supporter of Moses during a conference where Pharaoh and his chiefs were plotting to kill Moses.[59] .

The speech of the believer opens with these words: “Are you killing a person just because he says that my Lord is God. And you are doing so in spite of the fact that he brings clear signs from his Lord”. The believer continues “O my people, today you are a sovereign power. You have supremacy over earth, but who will save us against the might of God if it comes upon us”. In the later part of his speech, the believer explains how earlier corrupt and unjust peoples, who had supremacy over earth, and who did not repent in-spite of repeated warning from God through his prophets, were punished by God. He reminds his people of the Day of Judgement when all will stand before God to answer for their deeds. The believer also mentions the name of the Prophets Joseph who came earlier with clear signs from God. He concludes his speech with the following remarks: “My people, what is wrong with you, I am calling you the path of salvation and you are calling me to the Fire. You are calling me to disbelieve God and make partners with him and I am calling you to the Almighty, Most Forgiving God”.

THE LEADERSHIP OF THE BELIEVING COMMUNITY IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF MANKIND AND ITS SOURCE LIES IN THE BOOK.

At the end we will very briefly discuss the above two issues which are mutually related. In the above we mentioned that Moses was preparing the Children of Israel for the leadership of the world. What does it mean in the Qur’anic perspective? The surah no.28 of the Qur’an opens with the story of Pharaoh’s arrogance, tyranny and corruption and in this perspective discloses the Divine Plan to make the Children of Israel leaders of the world and give them power over Earth. However, the surah no.7 of the Qur’an discusses, in the wider perspective of the history of Mankind, how God has been testing different nations, one after another, by giving them power over Earth. The Qur’an briefly tells the stories of the Pre-Abrahamic Prophetic Movement and then makes a general review of them. After this the most detailed story of Moses and Pharaoh is discussed. After having tested the people of Noah, Hud, and Salih and peoples of some other prophets of God, Moses was sent to people of Pharaoh. But side by side another important development was also taking place. With Abraham the tawhidic movement of the prophets of God was entering into its international stage and this demanded that a whole community of believers be developed to do the leadership role. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph all worked on this project. Moses who was calling Pharaoh to stop his transgression and act as a servant of God, the Lord of all human beings, was also working for the liberation of the Children of Israel. The Divine Plan was that as a comprehensive educational program for the spiritual and moral development of this believing community would continue after their liberation, they would also receive the Divine Book that would help this believing community in removing oppression and injustice from the Earth[60] .

The surah no. 7 discusses Moses’ work in full detail. But let us have a brief review of the section 7:127-129 which is directly related with the above point. This small section which, is placed in the middle of the story of Moses and the Children of Israel, presents two scenes. The first scene is that of Pharaoh’s court. A consultative meeting is going on between Pharaoh and his chiefs. Pharaoh’s chiefs demand more serious action against Moses and his people[61] while Pharaoh is assuring them that there is no reason to worry. “Be sure, we shall slaughter their sons and let their women live; we stand irresistible over them”. In the other scene Moses is having a meeting with his people[62] . Moses is explaining to his people the same philosophy of history that is illustrated in the earlier part of the surah no. 7. Moses tells his people to remain firm and to follow the tawhidic path “Seek help from God and be steadfast.” Moses explains that it is God Who gives supremacy over Earth to different peoples one after another. His people express their frustration due to the continuing torture by Pharaoh. Moses further explains: “It is just possible that your Lord will soon destroys your enemy and make you successor in the land and then God will see how you act”.

In the Pre-Abrahamic Prophetic Movement the community of the believers of a prophet solely consisted of the righteous elements of the human society. And sooner or later all virtuous and pious people joined the prophet’s community of believers. Now in Egypt, Moses’ efforts were also leading to a similar polarization. As his struggle continued, all truthful and virtuous people gathered around Moses, including the righteous elements from Pharaoh’s people. There were some corrupt elements in Moses’ people too. But as the time passed and Moses’ efforts to educate them continued, many of them repented and purified themselves while some others joined Pharaoh’s camp. Pharaoh and his supporters were drowned. Moses’ community of believers attained its freedom from Pharaoh’s unjust rule. However, Moses and subsequent prophets continued the task of educating the Children of Israel and preparing them for their assignment.
 

[1] The name “Moses” occurs in the Qur’an 136 times. If we also count pronouns and other devices used to refer to Moses, the number will be very large.

[2] For more detailed discussion of Moses story consider:

7:103-171; 10:74-93; 20:9-99; 26:10-68; 27:7-14; 28:2:82; 40:23-54;

 43:46-56; 44:17-33; 45:16-17; 79:16-26. Also consider 2:49-:61.

[3] The way the Qur’an deals with the history of the prophets of God the whole series of prophets of God is a single movement started with Noah.

[4] Mainly for a detailed study of the prophetic history before Abraham consider:

7:59-103; 10:71-74; 11:25-95; 26:105-191.

Due to the nature of their work, which according to us belonged to Pre-Abrahamic Era, we also included the stories of Shu`ayb and Lot in the above list.

[5] Consider: 7:65; 11:50;26:123.

[6] Consider: 7:73; 11:61; 26:141.

[7] Consider:4:164; 40:78.

[8] For the Qur’anic suggestion to this effect, consider: 17:3; 19:58; 3:33; 71:26.

[9] For the Qur’anic suggestion to this effect, consider: 2:124; 3:96; 22:27.

[10] The Qur’an does give some idea of such a repeating cycle, for example in 7:94-101.

[11] A coherent study of the following nine occurrences of the theme of “One Community” in the Qur’an shall make this point clear:

2:213; 5:48; 10:19; 11:118; 16:93; 21:92;23:52; 42:8; 43:33.

[12] 26:10-11

[13] Just consider: 2:27,203-208; 13:25; 16:91-95.

[14] Just consider the stories of the prophets in surah no.7. In 7:59-63 stories of Noah, Hud, Salih, Shu`ayb and Lot are discussed. Each of these prophets addresses his people, calls them to stop being servants of other than God and criticizes the prevailing corruption which is the result of lordship of Man. In response influential persons who had their vested interests with the unjust  system stand up against the prophetic movement.

Also note, in 7:103-i27, how Pharaoh and his supporters are feeling threatened and want to crush Moses tawhidicmovement.

[15] 7: 199-200; 13: 22; 24: 63; 28:52-55; 41: 34.

[16] Consider, for example, 11:29-30; 26:114; and6:52.

[17] As stated in 8:32, the general law here is as follows: the Divine punishment will not come as long as the prophet stays with his people.

The above law can also be derived inductively from the Qur’anic stories of the prophet.

[18] For stories of Abraham consider mainly 6:74-90; 14:35-41; 19:41-55; 21:51-75; 37:83-113

Also consider: 22:26-29; 2:124-134; 3:96-97.

[19] 29:26; 37:99

[20] 43: 28

[21] 19: 46

[22] 19: 47

[23] 26: 84

[24] 26:83; 37: 100; 14: 37,40

[25] 2: 124

[26] 2: 128; though, of course, this is the context of the Final Messenger and his believers.

[27] 2: 129, add the above comment.

[28] Just consider: 6: 84-90 and 37: 108-138.

[29] 2: 128

[30] This is surah Nuh, the seventy first surah of the Quran

[31] Surah Yusuf is the twelfth surah of the Qur’an.

[32] Compare Joseph’s dream in 2: 4 with the angel’s prostration to Adam in 2:34.

[33] 7:16-17; 12:5, 100

[34] 12: 90-100

[35] 12: 56

[36] 12:50-53; 12:58-92

[37] Consider 12: 37-40, to see how, while explaining his message, Joseph disclosed his relationship with them.

[38] 7: 128-129, 146; 28:4-7; 32:23-24.

[39] In surah no. 7, consider Moses story which is discussed from 7:103 to 7: 162, after the discussion of earlier prophets in 7: 59-93. Consider the significance of “and then” in the beginning of the ayah 7: 103 which comes after a general review on the stories of earlier prophets.

[40] 2: 132

[41] 2: 133

[42] 35: 32

[43] 2:133

[44] 61: 5 ; 33: 69; 2: 108. Also consider; 2: 51, 54, 55-56 and 61.

[45]  20: 24; 51:38 73: 15; 79: 17

[46]  7: 103; 10: 75; 11: 97; 23: 46; 43: 46

[47]  40:24

[48] 27: 12

[49]  2:124

[50] 17: 15; 28: 47, 59; 9: 32-33.

[51] 7:104; 26: 16, 23, 48; 43: 46.

[52]  2:49;7:127;14:6; 28: 4;

[53] 79: 18

[54] 20: 43-44

[55] Consider: 28: 76. Also consider how God mentions Korah with Pharaoh in29: 39 and 40: 24.

[56] 66: 11

[57] 7: 120-122; 20: 70-73; 26: 46-51

[58] For the details of his speech consider: 40; 28-44. The surah no. 40 of the Qur’an is called “the Believer” after his name.

[59] For the full text of his speech consider; :40: 28-44.

[60] 7: 145-146

[61] They bring the charge against the Children of Israel that they are causing problem in the land, due to their failure to cooperate in their national system and their refusal to follow their religion. Consider: 7:127. It seems these chiefs wanted Children of Israel’s total submission to Pharaoh and were not open to any Pluralism.

[62]  7: 128-129

 

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