Story of Prophet Harun AS

The Story of Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ)

Prophet Harun Calligraphy

Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was born to a faithful Israelite family living in Egypt. He was born at a time when the Israelites were being severely oppressed under a tyrannical Egyptian Ruler.

He is widely recognized as the elder brother of Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

Prophet Musa Calligraphy

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The Pharoah’s Vision

The Pharaoh of Egypt was terrified by a vision of being overthrown by the Bani Israel; he dreamt of a blazing fire erupting from Jerusalem, burning down the houses of Egyptians and Copts, leaving the children of Israel untouched.

Anxious, he summoned his priests, ministers, and magicians and narrated the horrifying vision. The party inferred that a boy would be born among the Israelites, who would bring about the downfall of the Egyptians.

Boy Born image

Thus, a command was given to the Egyptian army to slay all male children born to the Israelites.

pharaoh's vision

There was no moral conflict in issuing this verdict as this marked yet another way the Pharaoh continued to oppress Bani Israel — the descendants of Prophet Yaqub (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

The children of Israel only served as slaves to the Pharaoh and Egyptians. They were forced into labor for minimal or no compensation. Enduring relentless subjugation, they were deprived of their rights and viewed as inferior citizens.

Gods Pharaoh image

The Egyptians worshipped the Pharaoh and carried out all his demands without question. They worshiped the gods that the Pharaoh endorsed.

Fearful of his power, no one dared to go against him, for that would only mean death. And so, they may not have believed in polytheism, but they followed the path of their King without protest.

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With all male babies born, and taken from their families to be killed, the Pharaoh faced a new problem. His sages warned:
“The aged of the Bani Israel die, and the young are slaughtered. This will lead to their annihilation. As a result, Pharaoh will lose the manpower of those who work for him — those whom he enslaves and their women whom he exploits.”

The sages then proposed the following policy to the Pharaoh to regulate the slaughter: males would be slaughtered in year one but spared to live the year after. Seeing this as an economical and socially viable solution, the Pharaoh approved and implemented the measure.

Harun & Musa born

During the year when male infants were spared, Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was born, while his younger brother Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was born in the year boys were being killed.

The story of Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) follows closely with that of Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), his younger brother.

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Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Prophethood

Perhaps Harun's story of Prophethood is lesser known than his brother's. The story of Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is often mentioned in the Qur'an alongside Musa since they are so tightly coupled. But nonetheless, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) had selected and destined Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) for Prophethood to warn the Pharoah and to guide the children of Israel.

Fast forwarding many years, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) commanded Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) to meet with the Pharoah and his Chiefs and intercede for the release of the people of Israel. Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was nervous. He felt that his speech impediment would negatively impact his meeting with the Pharoah and other leaders. His brother Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), on the other hand, was an eloquent speaker, so Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) implored Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) to appoint Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) as his helper.

Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) made the following supplication:

قَالَ رَبِّ ٱشۡرَحۡ لِي صَدۡرِي ayah 25 وَيَسِّرۡ لِيٓ أَمۡرِي ayah 26 وَٱحۡلُلۡ عُقۡدَةٗ مِّن لِّسَانِي ayah 27 يَفۡقَهُواْ قَوۡلِي ayah 28 وَٱجۡعَل لِّي وَزِيرٗا مِّنۡ أَهۡلِي ayah 29 هَٰرُونَ أَخِي ayah 30 ٱشۡدُدۡ بِهِۦٓ أَزۡرِي ayah 31 وَأَشۡرِكۡهُ فِيٓ أَمۡرِي ayah 32 كَيۡ نُسَبِّحَكَ كَثِيرٗا ayah 33 وَنَذۡكُرَكَ كَثِيرًا ayah 34 إِنَّكَ كُنتَ بِنَا بَصِيرٗا ayah 35

Qaala Rabbish rah lee sadree (25) Wa yassir leee amree (26) Wahlul ‘uqdatan milli saanee (27) Yafqahoo qawlee (28) Waj’al lee wazeeran min ahlee (29) Haaroona akhee (30) Ushdud biheee azree (31) Wa ashrik hu feee amree (32) Kai nusabbihaka kaseeraa (33) Wa nazkuraka kaseeraa (34) Innaka kunta binaa baseeraa (35)

English Translation:

[Moses] said, “My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance] (25) And ease for me my task (26) And untie the knot from my tongue (27) That they may understand my speech. (28) And appoint for me a minister from my family – (29) Aaron [Harun], my brother. (30) Increase through him my strength (31) And let him share my task (32) That we may exalt You much (33) And remember You much. (34) Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.” (35)
(Surah Ta-Ha, 20:25-35)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) responded,
"You have been granted your request, O Moses."
— ( Surah Taha ayah 36)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) humility is shown through this verse; he implores Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) to enlist the help of his brother. He asks to make Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) a partner in this mission to support and give him strength so they can complete the task together.

In another ayah, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) says:
“We will certainly strengthen you through your brother and will invest both of you with such power that they shall not be able to hurt you. With the help of Our Signs the two of you and your followers will prevail.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 35)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then instructed the two Prophets to go to the Pharoah and say,
"Indeed, we are messengers of your Lord, so send with us the Children of Israel and do not torment them. We have come to you with a sign from your Lord. And peace will be upon he who follows the guidance. Indeed, it has been revealed to us that the punishment will be upon whoever denies and turns away.'"
— (Surah At-Taha, ayat 47-48)

Harun & Musa Talked with Pharaoh

As the story of Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) is told, both he and Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) secured an audience with the Pharaoh. However, the dialogue didn't unfold as they anticipated — instead of releasing the children of Israel, the Pharoah labeled Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) as a magician.

Musa & Magician Image

Subsequently, the Pharaoah held a contest between Musa () and several renowned magicians in an attempt to discredit and shame him. Yet, Musa () emerged victorious.

Humiliated and feeling threatened, the Pharaoh unleashed brutal oppression upon the Israelites. He commanded his army to slay the sons of Israelites, rape their women, and imprison anyone who dared to resist.

Amidst severe persecution, Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) led the Israelites out of Egypt.

Musa (AS) Parting the sea

When the Israelites found themselves trapped between the mighty Pharaoh and his army on one side and the Red Sea on the other, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَى) parted the sea, allowing them to cross safely.

However, as the Pharaoh and his army attempted to pursue, they were engulfed and drowned by the sea's waters.

Pharaoh drowned Image

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The Story of the Golden Calf:

Despite Allah's (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَالَىٰ) rescue from Pharaoh's oppression, the children of Israel were accustomed to their old ways back in Egypt. As the saying goes, "old habits die hard," and the Pharoah's influence left a serious mark upon their souls. Despite the Prophet's persistent reminders to abandon idol worship, they felt a strong pull toward idolatry.

When Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) assumed leadership over the children of Israel. For forty days, Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was gone.

During this absence, a rebellious follower named Samiri became increasingly restless and inclined towards evil. Eventually, he gathered and melted all their gold jewelry, crafting a hollow golden calf.

Golden Calf image

This calf was designed to produce a peculiar sound when the wind

passed through. Because their hearts were weak, they found the sound enticing, something from the supernatural.

It wasn't too long after that a group among the Israelites began worshipping the idol.

Prophet Harun () was in distress and tried to warn them before the return of Musa (),
“O my people, you are only being tested by it, and indeed, your Lord is the Most Merciful, so follow me and obey my order.”

They said,
“We will never cease being devoted to the calf until Moses returns to us.”
— (Surah Taha, ayat 90-91)

Harun and the angry people

The Israelites were so easily misguided that they even threatened to kill Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) if he dared to stop them. Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was helpless.

This account differs from the Biblical version in which Aaron (the Judeo-Christian name for Harun) who was responsible for creating the calf,

“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him: 'Up, make us a god who shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.”
(Exodus 32:1)

Upon Prophet Musa's () return, he encountered the distressing sight of the Israelites dancing and worshipping the golden calf.

Filled with anger, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) addressed them saying,
“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 that wrath should descend from your Lord on you, so you broke your promise to me (i.e. disbelieving in Allah and worshipping the calf)?”
— (Surah Taha, ayah 86)

They countered:
"We did not break our promise to you by our will, but we were made to carry burdens from the ornaments of the people [of Pharaoh], so we threw them [into the fire], and thus did the Samiri throw."
— (Surah Taha, ayah 87)

Musa () then turned his anger toward his brother, whom he had placed in charge.

He tugged on Harun’s () beard and hair and scolded him:

“O Harun! What held you back when you saw them going astray? Whey did you not fight this corruption?”

Musa talked with Harun

Harun () pleaded:

“O son of my mother! Do not seize me by my beard or the hair of my head. The fold considered me weak and were about to kill me. So make not the enemies rejoice over me, nor put me among the people who are wrong-doers.”

Musa's anger subsided when he understood his brother's helplessness.

Musa then turned to Samiri and asked,
“And what is your case, O Samiri?”

He said, “I saw what they did not see, so I took a handful [of dust] from the track of the messenger and threw it, and thus did my soul entice me.”

Musa said,
“Then go. And indeed, it is [decreed] for you in [this] life to say, ‘No contact.’ And indeed, you have an appointment [in the Hereafter] you will not fail to keep. And look at your ‘god’ to which you remained devoted. We will surely burn it and blow it into the sea with a blast. Your god is only Allah, except for whom there is no deity. He has encompassed all things in knowledge.”
— (Surah Taha, ayah 95-98)

Samiri was banished and forced to live as an outcast. Subsequently, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) addressed his people, urging them to seek Allah's (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) forgiveness.

Musa chose seventy elders among the Israelites to travel to Mount Sinai, where he ordered them to seek Allah’s (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) forgiveness for their grave disobedience.

The men were arrogant and disbelieving,

“O Moses, we will never believe you until we see Allah outright"
(Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 55),

70 Elders Image

and so Allah sent a fierce punishment. Bolts of lightning appeared across the sky while the ground trembled with a quake. The men fell, losing their lives as disbelievers.

Still, Prophet Musa prayed to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) that they'd be forgiven and Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) being the most merciful, forgave them and

"...revived you after your death that perhaps you would be grateful."
(Surah Baqarah, ayah 56)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then declared,

"And Moses chose from his people seventy men for Our appointment. And when the earthquake seized them, he said, “My Lord, if You had willed, You could have destroyed them before and me [as well]. Would You destroy us for what the foolish among us have done? This is not but Your trial by which You send astray whom You will and guide whom You will. You are our Protector, so forgive us and have mercy upon us; and You are the best of forgivers. And decree for us in this world [that which is] good and [also] in the Hereafter; indeed, we have turned back to You.”

[Allah] said, “My punishment – I afflict with it whom I will, but My mercy encompasses all things.” So I will decree it [especially] for those who fear Me and give zakah and those who believe in Our verses – Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them.

So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him, and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful."

(Surah Taha, ayat 90-91)

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Death of Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ)

Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) passed away shortly before his brother Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) while the Israelites, his people, were still journeying through the wilderness.

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