The Story of Prophet Musa AS

The Story of Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ)

The Pharaoh's Dream

The Pharaoh of Egypt trembled with fear. He had a vision of being overthrown by the Bani Israel (children of Israel) who he viewed as being worthless.

pharaoh's vision musa AS

Without delay, he summoned his priests, ministers, and magicians. He told them of the horrifying vision of fire emanating from Jerusalem burning down the houses of Egyptians and Copts, leaving the children of Israel untouched.

Musa Baby Born

After carefully considering the symbolism of the vision, the party inferred that an extraordinary boy would be born among the Israelites, and ultimately, his rise would bring about the end of their oppression.

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

From surah al-Qasas, ayah 4,

English Translation:

"Indeed Pharaoh transgressed in the land and divided its people into sections. One group of them he humiliated, and slew their sons and spared their daughters. Truly he was among the mischief-makers."

There was no moral dilemma that the Pharaoh underwent in issuing this verdict, as he had always oppressed the people of Israel — the descendants of Prophet Yaqub (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

The Israelites only served as slaves to the Pharaoh and Egyptians, and they were forced into labor for little or no pay. They were treated as lowly citizens who had no rights.

The Egyptians worshiped the Pharaoh and carried out all his demands without question. They worshiped the gods that he endorsed. Challenging him on any issue would be as good as signing your own death warrant.

The people feared the Pharaoh, and although they may not have believed in polytheism, they followed the path of their King without protest.

people worshipping the pharaoh

With all male babies born to the Israelis being killed, the Pharaoh was left with a new problem.

His sages warned:
“The elders of the Israelis die and the young are slaughtered. This will lead to their annihilation. As a result, you will lose the manpower of those who work for you.”

The sages then suggested to the Pharaoh a cyclical policy for regulating the slaughter: in the first year, all male children would be slaughtered, while in the following year, they would be spared, continuing so on and so forth.

The Pharaoh, finding this solution more economical, readily enacted the plan.

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The Birth of a Prophet

the birth of prophet musa

In the year Bani Israel's camp was to undergo a slaughter of their baby boys, a woman, having just given birth to a son, was gripped with terror. Her older son Harun had narrowly escaped this fate, born in a year when boys were spared.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) inspired her:
“Nurse him, and then, when you fear for his safety, put him in the river: do not be afraid, and do not grieve, for We shall return him to you and make him a messenger.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 7)

Reassuring herself with the Lord’s promise, the mother nursed her son in secret. She named him Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

When the cries of baby Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) were sure to draw suspicion of Pharaoh's army, the mother decided it was time to do as Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) said and part with her baby.

With a heavy heart, she fashioned a basket.

prophet musa placed in basket in nile river

She nursed Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) one last time, placed him in the basket, and stealthily traveled to the shores of the Nile River.

She grieved for the safety of her son, but she knew that Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) would protect him. She then watched as the current swept the baby into the distance down the river.

When the basket touched the water of the River Nile, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) commanded the waves to be gentle. As instructed, the water became calm and rocked the basket forward, soothing baby Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

Musa's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) mother, like all mothers, worried for his safety.

She instructed her daughter to follow the riverbank for as long as possible and then report her findings back to her. This is similar to the teaching of the Prophet (ﷺ), who, when asked by a man whether he should tie his camel and trust in Allah or leave it untied and rely upon Allah.

musa floating down river with sister following

He (ﷺ) responded,
"Tie it and rely upon Allah." (Jami at-Tirmidhi 2517)

In the Qur'an, this part of the story is recounted,

English Translation:

"On the other hand, the heart of Moses’ mother was sorely distressed. Had We not strengthened her heart that she might have full faith (in Our promise), she would have disclosed the secret.

She told the sister of Moses: “Follow him." So she kept watch over him unperceived (by the enemies)."
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayat 10-11)

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The Discovery At The Riverbank

Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) sister followed the course of the basket. To her great horror, the basket came to rest at the riverbank outside the Pharaoh's palace.

servant finds musa floating in nile

One of the servants at the palace noticed the strange basket lying on the shore. They peeked in out of curiosity, only to find a baby within. They rushed to the palace with the basket to report to the Pharaoh and the queen about the mysterious baby in the basket.

Asiya, the Pharaoh's wife, felt an inexplicable love for the little soul who appeared outside her palace. She was aware of her inability to bear a child of her own, though she had longed for a baby boy — perhaps this was Allah's (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) gift to her.

The moment she lifted the baby from the basket, she kissed him.

The news of the baby quickly circulated throughout the palace. When the news got to the Pharaoh, he had a different reaction. He figured it was likely a last-ditch attempt by an Israeli woman to save her child from his decree. Unmoved and without remorse, he coldly ordered that this baby share the same fate as the other boys.

Asiya (ra) turned to her husband and requested:
“This baby is a source of joy for me and you.”

Pharoah watched on as his wife held the baby tenderly, weeping with joy while hugging and kissing him. He had never witnessed her so happy.

See, Asiya was the complete opposite of the Pharaoh. While he was a disbeliever, she was a firm believer in Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). He was cruel and a tyrant, yet she was merciful, delicate, and goodhearted.

She pleaded,
“Do not kill him. Perhaps he may be useful to us or we may adopt him as a son.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 9)

Asiya finds Musa in River

Swayed by her plea, the Pharaoh relented, making an exception to spare the child's life.

The irony here is striking:
the Pharaoh, who ordered the death of all the newborn babies, was unknowingly raising the very child whose existence he tried to prevent.

This irony is further emphasized by Allah's (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) words, who concludes the verse by saying,
"They were unaware of the end of it all."

Drawing from the wisdom of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) as recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith reference 3769, where he remarked on the exceptional stature of Asiya.

"Many amongst men attained perfection but amongst women none attained the perfection except Mary, the daughter of `Imran and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh."

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Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Reunites With His Mother

There was rumbling in the royal palace. Many wet nurses lined up while the baby wailed in hunger that none could satiate. Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) sister, who followed the baby along the banks of the River Nile, watched on with amazement at the strange turn of events.

Out of concern for the baby and the clearly distressed queen, she spoke up:
“Shall I direct you to a family who will bring him up for you and take good care of him?”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 12)

prophet musa sister in palace

Suspicious of the strange girl on their palace grounds, the staff questioned why she was following the basket.

She simply told them that she did so out of curiosity. They believed her and ordered her to fetch the wetnurse.

Back home, Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) mother was worried for her baby. She contemplated marching to wherever Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was and informing them that the baby was hers. But Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) kept reassuring her to have just a little more patience.

Right then, her daughter barged in and excitedly narrated to her the miracle of Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) survival at the royal household and the queen’s wish to raise him as a prince. She also informed her that the queen required her services as Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) wetnurse. Without delay, she rushed to the palace.

Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) mother recognized this was the reassurance that Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) had given her.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) says in the Quran:

English Translation:

"This is how We returned him to his mother so that her heart would be put at ease, and not grieve, and that she would know that Allah’s promise is always true. But most people do not know."
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 13)

As the baby was held to her breast, he immediately began suckling. The Pharaoh, who was also present, was astonished.

prophet musa mother questioned

He asked:
“Who are you? This child has refused to take any other breast but yours.”

With strength from her Lord, she replied:
“I am a woman of sweet milk and sweet smell, and no child refuses me."

The Pharaoh was satisfied with her response and appointed her as the baby’s wet nurse.

As Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) promised, Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) mother was reunited with her baby. She continued to nurse Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) at the palace, and when he was weaned, she was granted the privilege of visiting him. She watched in secrecy as he was raised in the palace as the prince of Egypt.

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Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Grows Up

In Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 14 of the Qur'an, we are told that as Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) grew up, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) bestowed upon him strength, sound knowledge, and wisdom required of a Messenger.

These attributes kept his mind active and curious. He used to question many of the Egyptians' beliefs, like how they could worship multiple gods. a young moses growing up

His independent thinking, combined with a deep sense of justice, led him to champion the weak and oppressed secretly. This was despite the lifestyle afforded by his royal upbringing in the same household as the Pharaoh.

One day, while Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was wandering through the city, he witnessed two men in a brawl. The one being beaten up was an Israelite and the oppressor was the Egyptian.


Upon spotting Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), the Israelite cried out to him for help. With no one else in sight, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) rushed to intervene. He could no longer bear to witness the ongoing oppression of his people and do nothing.

As we are told in the Qur'an,

English Translation:

"Once he entered the city at a time when its people were heedless, and he encountered two men fighting, one of whom belonged to his own people and the other to his foes. Now the man belonging to Musa own people cried out to him for help against the man from the foes, and Musa struck him with his fist"
— (Surah Al Qasas, ayah 15)

Here, we come to know of the strength and physical attributes Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) had gifted Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). At the time, Musa was reaching maturity, so some scholars suggest that he was not yet accustomed to the extent of his own strength.

prophet punches man

So, in an attempt to free the Israelites from the Egyptian's hold, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) struck the man with a single strike, and the Egyptian body fell lifeless because of the force of that blow.

Immediately, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) recognized what transpired and said,
“This is from Shaitan’s handiwork. He is certainly a sworn, misleading enemy,”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 15)

Musa then cried out, even though he responded in defense of the man, and he could rationalize how the Egyptians were committing many atrocities on the Israelites; this was not what he intended.

His heart was consumed with remorse. It was purely by accident,
so he beseeched Allah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) for His forgiveness.

prophet musa as du'a
رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمۡتُ نَفۡسِي فَٱغۡفِرۡ

Rabbi innee zalamtu nafsee faghfir lee faghafaralah; innahoo Huwal Ghafoorur Raheem
"My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me"
— (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayah 16)

"So He forgave him, for He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful,"
Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) says in the Quran. (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 16)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then pledged to the Almighty:
"My Lord, because of the favour that You have done me, I shall never support those who do evil."
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 17)

According to Qur'an exegetes, this ayah signifies the day Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) severed ties with the Pharaoh and his government, for he knew it was a tyrannical government. He (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) would no longer stand by idle seeing such evil and corruption spread on earth.

The next day, when Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was once again walking through the city, he witnessed the same Israelite involved in another brawl.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) approached the Israelite saying:
“Indeed, you are an evident, [persistent] deviator.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 18)

For he witnessed the same man getting into a second fight with yet another person.

Prophet Musa Talks With Israelite

Fearing that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) might strike him, the Israelite cried, revealing the secret:
“O Musa! Do you intend to kill me as you killed a man yesterday? You only want to be a tyrant in the land. You do not intend to make peace!”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 19)

The remark did not go unnoticed by the Egyptians.

Shortly thereafter, another man approached Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) with a sense of urgency, warning him that he was being pursued by Pharaoh's army.

Musa warned of threat

The man spoke,
“O Moses, indeed the eminent ones are conferring over you [intending] to kill you, so leave [the city]”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 20)

pharaoh army

Their intentions were clear:
they were not seeking to arrest him or provide a fair trial. Instead, the rumors spread that they were determined to impose a death sentence on him.

prophet musa travels

With unwavering faith and trust in Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) plan, he said,
"Perhaps my Lord will guide me to the sound way." (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 22),

and he then set off on his journey.

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A Humble Act Of Service.

Worn out after traveling for eight days, his stomach sunken in with lack of food, and the soles of his feet injured after walking barefoot in the hot desert, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) eventually reached a watering hole bordering the country of Midian.

Feeling safe from the pursuit of his enemies, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) decided to rest underneath a tree by a spring where shepherds were watering their herd of cattle. He also noticed two women preventing their sheep from mixing with those of the others.

He asked the women:
“What’s the problem?”

They replied:
“We cannot water our animals until the other shepherds are done.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 23)

prophet musa helps the women at the well

They also shared with Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) that their father was too old and sick to tend to this task himself.

Forgetting his thirst, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) said:
"I will water the sheep for you."

The shepherds in the area were known to place a large, heavy stone over the spring's mouth to try and make it less accessible. This was part of the reason why the girls had to wait so as not to mix too closely with the men already there.

prophet musa moving stone

It is reported that the stone was so heavy that it would take ten men together to move it.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) approached the rock and, without any hesitation, lifted and removed it from the spring's mouth, the veins of his neck and hands protruding as he did.

He then watered the herd of sheep for the two women, put the rock back in place, and then retreated to the shade of the tree. He had no money, no clothes, nowhere to stay, or a job to sustain himself.

He then prayed to Allah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) beneath the tree in Midian:
“My Lord! I am truly in desperate need of whatever provision You may have in store for me.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 24)

man with his two daughters

The two women returned home much earlier than their father anticipated. Worried, he asked his daughters if everything was okay.

They told their father what happened, and he asked one of them to go back to the watering hole and invite the man over to meet him.

Upon returning to the watering hole, the woman found Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) still resting beneath the tree.

She said:
“My father invites you that he may reward you for your having watered our flocks for us.” (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 25)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) welcomed the invitation and accompanied the woman to her home.

He was warmly greeted by the host who was a kind and god-fearing person. Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) revealed to the old man the incidents that transpired in his motherland that led him to escape in haste.

The man responded:
“Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, disbelievers, and wrong-doers)”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 25)

man talks with prophet musa

Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) humility and gentleness in behavior were clear to the hosts who invited him to stay with them. He found safety and peace in their house.

A few more days had passed by and they grew more and more comfortable and trusting of one another.

The family was also in need of a shepherd. They required someone strong and reliable — someone like Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

So, one of the daughters suggested to their father:
“Father, employ this man in your service. The best whom you might employ is he who is strong and trustworthy.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 26)

The father inquired of his daughter about her impressions of Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), particularly what made her trust him.

She explained,
"When I invited him to our home, he respectfully requested to walk ahead, so as not to compromise my modesty."

Understanding and appreciative of Musa’s respectfulness, her father saw in him not only honesty but also a strong work ethic. For him, these qualities were the most crucial in judging a man’s character.

He then approached Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and asked:
“I want to marry one of these two daughters of mine to you if you serve me for eight years.

But if you complete ten years, that will be of your own accord (but not an obligation). I do not intend to treat you harshly. If Allah wills, you will find me an upright man.”

— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 27)

The offer suited Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) well. He responded,
“So that is agreed between me and you. Whichever of the two terms I fulfill, I trust that I shall not be wronged. Allah is a witness over the covenant we are committing ourselves to.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 28)

He married one of the shepherd's daughters and found a new beginning in Midian, far removed from his previous life. The turn of events is a testament to how when one puts their complete trust in Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), he rewards them from unexpected places.

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Musa's Return to Egypt:

The prophets always fulfill their commitments and have a habit of giving more than what is due. So, after he fulfilled the promised eight years, he stayed for the additional two.

The period of ten years that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) lived away from his family was the most crucial in his journey toward prophethood.

He observed Allah’s (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) creations with wonder — he pondered about the skies and stars, how the sun rose and set each day, and how seeds turned into trees.

musa sits and wonders about the world

He contemplated the magnificence of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) and His existence in seclusion. This is the period where Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) supplied His messenger with the tools necessary to bear the divine responsibility of prophethood.

After ten years in Midian, a deep homesickness began to stir in Musa's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) heart. Fully aware of the dangers involved in returning to Egypt, he nevertheless felt a strong pull to visit home. The reasons behind his desire to return remained a mystery. Was it the yearning to reunite with his biological family? Or was it the longing to see Asiya, his adoptive mother, who had showered him with maternal love?

Regardless of his motivations, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) reached a firm decision, telling his wife,
"Tomorrow, we shall leave for Egypt."

She was concerned for their safety, for she knew that the Pharaoh was a tyrant and her husband had departed Egypt with trouble at his heels.

Still, she obeyed her husband and prepared for the journey ahead.

prophet musa and his wife
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Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) Speaks to His Prophet.

As Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and his family traveled through the desert, they lost their way.

While resting in the vicinity of Mount Tur, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) noticed a glow of a fire.

a glow in the distant

Feeling hopeful, he told his family:
“Wait, I have seen a fire; perhaps I may bring to you from there some information, or a burning fire-brand that you may warm yourselves.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 29)

As he neared the fire, he heard a strange voice:
“O Musa, verily I am Allah, the Lord of all creatures of the Universe.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 30)

Taken aback, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) looked around but found no one.

The voice called again:
“And what is in your right hand, O Musa?”

Shaking, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) replied:
“This is my staff on which I lean, and with which I beat down branches for my sheep, and for which I find other uses.”

“Now throw down your staff,
(Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 31) the voice instructed.

musa's staff
Moses throws staff down

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) did as commanded, and the staff instantly transformed into a serpant. Afraid, he ran away, taking cover to protect himself from the snake.

But the voice called out once again:
“O Musa! Draw near, and fear not. Verily, you are of those who are secure.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 32)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then instructed him to grab hold of the serpent, and it would return to its former state.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) followed the command and grabbed the snake, which miraculously reverted to its original form. He was finally reassured that it was indeed Allah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). His fear was replaced by a sense of peace and calm – he was after all in the presence of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), the Lord of the worlds.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then commanded his prophet to put his hand through the opening of his collar.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) did as Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) instructed and when he pulled out his arm, he found it shining bright white!

moses hand turns white

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then directed him to proceed on his journey to confront Pharaoh and his chiefs, saying,
"These are two proofs from your Lord to Pharaoh and his chiefs. They have truly been rebellious people.'
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 32)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) appealed:
“My Lord, I have killed one person from among them, and I fear that they will kill me.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 33)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) trusted Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) he did not deny what was asked of him. However, he was insecure in his ability as he still had a speech impediment. He felt as though his brother would be better suited to deliver the message,
"My brother Harun is more eloquent in speech than I: so send him with me as a helper to confirm my truthfulness for I fear that they will reject me as a liar."

prophet Harun Arabic Calligraphy

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) replied,
"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 34-35)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) understood that when Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) chooses a messenger, it's because he knows better and has given them all that is necessary to fulfill His message. This understanding resonates with the broader message in Surah Baqarah verse 286:

English Translation:

"Allah does not burden any human being with a responsibility heavier than he can bear."

Feeling the weight of his responsibility, he offered one final prayer before embarking on this journey to confront the Pharaoh:

prophet musa as du'a for speech

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

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:

"O my Lord! Open for me my chest (grant me self-confidence, contentment, and boldness). (25) And ease my task for me; (26) And make loose the knot (the defect) from my tongue, (i.e. remove the incorrectness from my speech) (27) That they understand my speech; (28) And appoint for me a helper from my family, (29) Harun, my brother; (30) Increase my strength with him,(31) And let him share my task (of conveying Allah’s Message and Prophethood) (32), That we may glorify You much (33), And remember You much (34), Verily! You are of us Ever a Well-Seer. (35)"
(Surah Taha, ayat 25-35)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) responded:
“We will assist you with your brother and grant you both authority so they cannot harm you. With Our signs, you and those who follow you will certainly prevail.”
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 35)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) also told them:
"So go to him and say, ‘Behold, both of us are the Messengers of your Lord. Let the Children of Israel go with us, and do not chastise them. We have come to you with a sign from your Lord; and peace shall be for him who follows the true guidance. It has been revealed to us that chastisement awaits those who called the lie to the truth and turned away from it.’’”
— (Surah At-Taha, ayah 47-48)

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The Prophets Approach Pharaoh

So, the brothers, Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), obtained an audience with the Pharaoh.

prophet musa and harun confront pharaoh

“What do you want?”
the Pharaoh asked Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

“The Lord of the Universe has sent us that you let the Children of Israel go with us.” he replied. — (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayat 16-17)

Pharaoh protested:
"Did we not raise you among us as a child, and you stayed several years of your life in our care? And then you committed that crime of yours: you were so ungrateful."
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayat 18-19)

The threat in Pharoah’s statement did not go unnoticed by Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

But he replied:
“I did it then, lacking guidance. So I fled from you when I feared you. Then my Lord granted me wisdom and made me one of the messengers. How can that be a favor, of which you remind me when it was only because you have enslaved the Children of Israel?”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayat 20-22)

He asked:
“And who is this Lord of the Universe?” (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 23)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) replied,
“The Lord of the heavens and the earth and of all that is between them, if you were only to believe.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 24)

Pharoah scoffed. How could a child he raised as his own dare question his power?

Turning to his chiefs and everyone gathered, he asked:
“Do you hear (what he says)?”
—(Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 25)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) ignored his remark and continued:
“He is your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 26)

Pharaoh said mockingly to those around him:
“This Messenger of yours who has been sent to you is simply mad.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 27)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) added:
“(He is) the Lord of the east and the west, and all between them. If you only had any understanding!”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 28)

The Pharaoh had enough. He couldn’t listen to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) challenging his authority anymore.

“If you take any god other than me, I will certainly make you one of those (who are rotting) in prison.” he bellowed.
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 29)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) responded:
“Even if I bring you clear proof?”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 30)

Pharaoh challenged:
“Then bring it if you are truthful at all.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 31)

prophet musa throws staff to serpant

As Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) had shown him, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) threw down his staff, which turned into a giant snake, leaving all those present terrified. He then drew his hand out of his collar and it shone white for all to see. (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayat 32-33)

prophet musa shining hand

Despite the clear, undeniable proofs, the Pharoah's mind refused to accept the existence of a power greater than his own. He was stubborn in the face of the truth, he could bring himself to admit the possibility of being wrong before his people.

So, in a desperate attempt to undermine Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), he turned to his chiefs and said:
“Surely this man is a skilled magician, who wants to drive you out of your land by his magic. Tell us, what do you advise us?”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayat 34-35)

The chiefs proposed that the brothers be detained while the most skilled magicians in the area were gathered. They explained that if the magicians could reproduce the magic trick that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) had performed it would take away all his credibility and influence.

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Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Battles The Magicians.

People from all over the land gathered in the city to witness the contest.

On one side were the Pharaoh's most skilled magicians; on the other stood Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), once considered the son and prince of the Pharaoh, now boldly challenging him as a Prophet of a different faith.

The duel was about to unfold, and the public was paying close attention. It was a high-stakes situation.

If the Pharaoh lost, he risked losing the respect and authority of his subjects. He would effectively make Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) a hero amongst the people, which he viewed as a direct challenge to his power and reign.

A victory for Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) would give him the footing to be accepted as a Prophet by the people, and perhaps he would be able to convince Pharaoh to accept Allah, seek forgiveness, and liberate the children of Israel.

The magicians came to Pharaoh and said: ‘Shall we have a reward if we win?’ Pharaoh replied: ‘Certainly, and you shall be among those who are near to me.’ Then they said: ‘O Musa, will you [first] throw your rod, or shall we throw?’ Musa said: ‘You throw.’ So when they threw [their rods], they enchanted the eyes of the people, and struck them with awe, and produced a mighty sorcery.
— (Surah Al-A'raf, ayat 113-116)

The magicians skillfully executed their sleight of hand trick, creating the illusion of transforming their staffs into snakes.

This spectacle enchanted the onlookers, people cheered on as the Pharaoh smiled observing the scene. He believed he had successfully unmasked Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) as a fraud.

serpants crawling palace floor

The Qur'an recounts the feelings of that moment and how "Musa's heart was filled with fear."— (Surah At-Taha, ayah 68)

He felt an overwhelming wave of nervousness, uncertain of his next move. Doubt crept in; what if the optical illusion of the magicians was so compelling of an image that any act by him wouldn't be enough to convince the crowd. What then?

Allah said,

English Translation:

"Fear not. for it is you who will prevail. And throw down what is in your right hand; it will swallow up all that they have wrought. They have wrought only a magician’s stratagem. A magician cannot come to any good, come whence he may."
Surah At-Taha, ayah 69

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) cast down his staff, which turned into a giant serpent before the eyes of onlookers.v

musa magic devours the magicians fake magic

Slowly, the snake slithered its way toward the magicians’ snakes and devoured them all one by one as the Pharaoh and his chiefs watched quietly.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then picked it up, upon which it converted into a staff once again.

The crowd rose, applauding and shouting words of praise at Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). They had never witnessed such a spectacle in their lives.

All the Pharaoh's magicians fell into prostration, declaring:
“We now believe in the Lord of all worlds — the Lord of Musa and Harun.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayat 46-48)

The Pharaoh was furious. This was certainly not how he planned the day to end.

He threatened his magicians, assuming that they conspired with Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) against him:
“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.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 49)

The magicians fearlessly professed their unwavering faith in Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

They replied:
"That would be no harm! Surely to our Lord, we will all return. We hope that our Lord will forgive our sins, as we are the first to believe.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayat 50-51)

Pharaoh had never before faced such open defiance from his subjects. In his view, he was the supreme leader, invincible and beyond defeat. Firm in his belief, he was unable to accept Musa's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) message or show any sign that he could be wrong.

He dug in his heels further.

The Pharaoh came up with a plan to try and save his reputation. He spread a rumor across the land that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) had won the contest because he conspired with the magicians and hatched a plot.

To instill fear and serve as a warning to others, he executed all the magicians who participated in the contest and left their bodies hanging from trees.

hanging tree

This was the first time the Pharaoh visibly felt his power under threat, and he was prepared to go to any lengths to protect it. In the subsequent days, his grip tightened as he unleashed harsher restrictions and punishments against the children of Israel.

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The Aftermath: Pharaoh Retaliates.

Pharaoh returned to his palace and began fighting with his ministers. Emotions ran hot, and he disparaged all the men in his quarters for no reason. Seeing these discussions as being pointless, he kicked everyone out of the room. When left alone, he tried to think more calmly but failed. He drank several cups of wine, but the anger did not subside.

He then summoned all the chiefs and elders back for a meeting to try and figure out how they could silence Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and prevent his influence from spreading further.

Pharoah’s senior minister, Haman, spoke up. Pharaoh completely disregarded what he said.

He asked Haman:
"Am I a liar, O Haman?"

Haman fell to his knees and asked:
"Who dared to accuse Pharaoh of lying?"

Pharaoh proceeded to ask:
"Has Musa not said that there is a Lord in heaven?"

Haman responded:
"Musa is a liar."

Turning his face to the other side, Pharaoh quietly whispered:
"I know he is a liar."

"The elders of Pharaoh’s people said: ‘Will you leave alone Moses and his people to spread mischief in the land, and forsake you and your gods?’

Pharaoh replied: ‘We will kill their male children and spare their female ones. For indeed we hold irresistible sway over them.’"
— (Surah Al-A'raf, ayah 127)

pharaoh builds tower

Pharaoh then returned to Haman and asked,
“Haman, build for me a lofty tower that I may scale the highways — the highways to the heavens — and have a look at the God of Moses, although I am certain that Moses is a liar."
(Surah Ghafir, ayat 36-37, also mentioned in Surah Al-Qasas ayah 38)

Haman agreed outwardly fearing any backlash, but he didn't really mean it. He knew the Pharaoh was irrational and the project was doomed to fail.

Choosing his words carefully, he addressed Pharaoh,
"your majesty, let me object to Pharaoh for the first time. You will never find anyone in the heavens. There is no god but you."

This response satisfied Pharaoh's ego; no evidence suggests that this tower was ever constructed. However, some scholars report that the building was built, but once it reached higher levels, it collapsed.

Meanwhile, the Pharaoh's other directives were enforced and took full effect. His army began spreading evil and committing horrendous crimes against the children of Israel who defied his rule.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) watched helplessly as he didn’t have any authority to stop the tyranny. He continued to advise his people to ask Allah (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) for patience and pray to Him, asking Him for a calamity to befall the Egyptians.

"Moses said to his people:
'Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.'

They said,
“We have been harmed before you came to us and after you have come to us.”

He said,
“Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land and see how you will do.”
— (Surah Al-A'raf, ayat 128-129)

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The story of Qarun.

وَمَآ أُوتِيتُم مِّن شَيۡءٖ فَمَتَٰعُ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَزِينَتُهَاۚ وَمَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِ خَيۡرٞ وَأَبۡقَىٰٓۚ أَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُونَ ayah 60

Wa maaa ooteetum min shai’in famataa’ul hayaatid dunyaa wa zeenatuhaa; wa maa ‘indal laahi khairunw wa abqaa; afalaa ta’qiloon (60)

English Translation:

And whatever you have been given is an enjoyment of the life of (this) world and its adornment, and that (Hereafter) which is with Allah is better and will remain forever. Have you then no sense?
(Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 60)

This ayah foreshadows the fate of a man named Qarun.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was facing multiple battles at once. He was trying to ward off the evils of the Pharaoh while trying to shelter his people and curtail their doubts. Amid all this conflict, Qarun decided to pick up and move.

qarun the rich man

Qarun was one of the children of Israel and was subjected to a unique trial by Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ): immense wealth.

He was provided with a grand mansion, expensive clothing, numerous servants, and the means to indulge in every luxury imaginable.

His riches are described in Surah Al-Qasas, verse 76,
"We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men," meaning his wealth was so vast that just the keys to his treasure troves would be too heavy for a group of strong men to carry.

Having acquired all this wealth, you would think Qarun would be dutiful to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), the one who gave him both the opportunity and the capability. However, Qarun let greed and arrogance corrupt his heart, keeping him away from Allah's (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) path, which is one of humility and gratitude.

The Qur'an gives clear advice to Qarun, warning him,

English Translation:

Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant. Seek by means of the wealth that Allah has granted you the Abode of the Hereafter, but forget not your share in this world and do good as Allah has been good to you and do not strive to create mischief in the land, for Allah loves not those who create mischief.
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayat 76-77)

But these orders fell on deaf ears as he remained arrogant, disregarding everyone who tried to advise him.

When he publicly displayed his wealth, the people who were attracted by the allure of worldly life would say,
"If only we had been given something like what Qarun has been given: He is the owner of a great fortune."
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 79)

He boasted his greatness, "All this has been given to me on account of a certain knowledge that I have."
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 78)

This statement reflected his misguided belief in his own abilities as the source of his wealth.

However, those endowed with true understanding, who possessed religious knowledge, offered a different perspective and said:
"Woe to you. The reward of Allah is best for those who believe and act righteously. But none except those who are patient shall attain this."
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 80)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) explained to Qarun how hoarding his wealth and spending it only on himself is one of the disturbances in the land that causes evil to spread.

Musa tells qarun to pay zakat

He reminded him to pay Zakat to charity and to those less fortunate than him.

This annoyed Qarun very much; he did not like the idea of giving his wealth away for nothing, nor did he like being told what to do. The money felt much better in his pockets than someone else's.

Although Zakat represents only a small fraction of one's total wealth, when Qarun calculated the amount due, he was shocked to see such a large number. He not only refused to pay but went on to bribe people to spread a rumor that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) had invented the law of Zakat for personal gain.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) turned to Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) to punish him for his stinginess, and Allah responded:
"So We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he one of those who could save themselves."
— (Surah Al-Qasas, ayah 81)

qarun treasure is taken by Allah SWT

In an instant, everything Qarun had treasured, his mansion and wealth, was swallowed up by the earth, leaving no trace of its existence.

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A Challenge for Children
Start Young.

Embrace the spirit of giving and nurture the discipline of generosity when amounts are small. It's easy to give 3 cents out of a dollar; it's much harder to give $30,000 out of a million. So, be disciplined when there are just a few. Developing virtuous habits starts on a small scale and grows as you grow.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said,
Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately,

and in another hadith,
"Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.

(Bukhari 6464 and Ibn Majah 4240)

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A Believer Defends Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ)

With each sign from Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) hoped the Pharaoh would come to his senses and alter his course. Yet, these signs only seemed to push Pharaoh further to subjugate and oppress the children of Israel.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) remained steadfast, showing no indication of surrendering. He garnered more support among his people, and this drove Pharaoh to the point of uncontrollable anger. He convened a meeting with his chiefs, ministers, and other notables.

He addressed the assembly:
"Let me kill Musa, and let him call upon his Lord! I truly fear that he may change your traditions or cause mischief in the land."
— (Surah Al-Ghafir, ayah 26)

Most of those present readily favored the idea, except for one nobleman who (like Asiya) was discreetly a believer.

pharaoh gathers

He reasoned:
“Do you kill a person simply because he says: ‘My Lord is Allah’ even though he brought to you clear Signs from your Lord? If he is a liar, his lying will recoil upon him; but if he is truthful, you will be smitten with some of the awesome consequences of which he warns you. Allah does not guide to the Right Way any who exceeds the limits and is an utter liar. My people, today the kingdom is yours, and you are supreme in the land. But if Allah’s chastisement were to come upon you, who will come to our help?”
— (Surah Al-Ghafir, ayat 28-29)

The Pharaoh and his disciples were not happy listening to the man. They threatened to harm him, but he was unafraid as he knew that Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) was on his side.

The man also warned the Pharaoh and his chiefs that just as the nations of Nuh, Ad, and Thamud, they, too, were inviting their doom by attempting to kill the Messenger.

This infuriated the Pharaoh further, who then threatened to kill the man. However, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) protected His believer.

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The Story of the Plague.

Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) continued to demand that the Pharaoh release the Israelites and warned him of Allah’s (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) punishment if he did not agree. But, the Pharaoh paid no heed.

English Translation:

"And they said to Moses: ‘Whatever sign you might produce before us in order to enchant us, we are not going to believe you."
— (Surah Al-A'raf, ayah 132)

One day, the Pharaoh called Egyptians and the Israelites to a large gathering. He reminded them it was he who was their Lord who provided them with their necessities. He showed them that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was a liar and an ordinary poor man who could not provide them with anything.

To the masses, there was indeed a clear distinction between the Pharaoh, who seemed powerful and superior, and Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), who was poor and lacking authority. Years of oppression had narrowed their vision, making it difficult for them to conceive a reality different from their present.

They saw the disparity between the Musa and the Pharaoh and quickly judged based on what the eyes could see, completely overlooking Musa's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) status as a Messenger of Allah.

However, the situation began to change as Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) began to send down His signs one by one.

river nile dries up

First, the River Nile, which supplied water to the crops in Egypt, began drying up. With the water levels depleting, the river banks remained dry, and the water supply to the crops was cut off.

A severe famine ensued, yet the Pharaoh remained defiant. This drought was soon followed by a massive flood, further devastating the land.

As the people were faced with adversity, they remembered Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) warning of severe punishment if they rejected Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

So they pleaded with him:
“O Musa, pray to your Lord for us by virtue of the promise He has made to you: if you relieve us of the plague, we will believe you and let the Children of Israel go with you.”
— (Surah Al-A’raf, ayah 134)

So, Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) intervened and invoked the Almighty to ease His punishment. The water withdrew from the land, becoming fertile and cultivable again. But, they failed to fulfill their promise and returned to their old evil ways.

swarm of locusts

Then, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) unleashed another sign:
sending down a massive swarm of locusts, which formed a dark cloud over the land, devouring their crops.

The people turned to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) again, imploring him to intervene once more. But they failed to keep their word when the Lord eased His punishment.

Confronted with yet another plague, the Egyptians found themselves battling an infestation of lice that spread various diseases across the land.

Showing no shame, they rushed back to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), vowing to free the Israelites if relief was shown. But, once again, they broke their promise once the plague was lifted.

moses plague of lice

True to their pattern, the Egyptians reacted predictably when the next sign came down. This time, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) sent an army of frogs by the millions. They hopped everywhere, in the rivers and roads, even making their way into their homes and beds.

moses plague red nile river

As a final sign, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) converted the water of the River Nile into blood for the Egyptians.

When Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and the Israelites drew water from the Nile, it seemed to be ordinary, but when the Egyptians did so, the water turned to blood. As usual, they ran to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) promising to release the Israelites, but ignored him once their punishment was removed.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) says in the Quran:

English Translation:

"Then We afflicted them with a great flood and locusts, and the lice, and the frogs, and the blood. All these were distinct signs and yet they remained haughty. They were a wicked people."
Surah Al-A’raf, ayah 133

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The Children of Israel make their escape.

Despite the clear signs sent by Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ), the Pharaoh and Egyptians continued to disbelieve. They did not keep their promise of freeing the children of Israel and instead continued to harass them as they did before. Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) understood that their arrogance would not allow them to believe.

So Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) prayed:
"Our Lord! You bestowed upon Pharaoh and his nobles splendour and riches in the world. Our Lord! Have You done this that they may lead people astray from Your path? Our Lord! Obliterate their riches and harden their hearts that they may not believe until they observe the painful chastisement.”
—(Surah Surah Yunus, ayah 88)

Allah responded:
"Your prayers are answered, so stay on the right course, and do not follow the path of those who do not know."
—(Surah Yunus, ayah 89)

The children of Israel hatched a plan to leave Egypt. They cleverly sought the Pharaoh's approval to attend festivities outside a neighboring city. This was to mask their true intentions of a mass exodus.

They also requested to borrow some jewelry from the Egyptians, promising to return it after their festival. This was another part of their strategy to disguise their plans further and avert any suspicion.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then sent inspiration to Moses:
"Travel by night with My servants"
— (Surah Ta-Ha, ayah 77)

and so, through the darkness of night, Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) led his followers.

By the morning, they reached the Red Sea.

Israelites escape egypt

As the news of the Israelites' escape reached the Pharaoh, his mind raced with the implications. This was far more than a simple loss of labor; it was a direct challenge to his authority and divine status. He urgently summoned his generals, mobilized his army, and led the pursuit after them.

As the Israelites neared the edge of the sea, some began to hear a faint but growing sound of horses hooves in the distance. Turning to their backs, they saw a cloud of dust rising on the horizon. Panic rippled through the crowd.

panicked crowd

In front of them was a seemingly insurmountable sea; behind them, Pharaoh and his soldiers rapidly advanced. They were trapped with no apparent way out.

“We are overtaken for sure,”
they cried out.
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 61)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) reassured them:
“Absolutely not! My Lord is certainly with me — He will guide me.”
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 62)

The words only managed to reassure his followers briefly. As the Pharaoh's army advanced, their resolve shattered, and they prepared to surrender themselves back to a life of slavery under the Pharaoh’s rule.

As the chariots neared closer, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) commanded Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ):
"Strike the sea with your rod."
— (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, ayah 63)

moses parts the red sea

He did as commanded, and a fierce wind blew across the sea. The water parted in a flash.

The waves stood like mountains on either side, allowing Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and his followers a safe passage to cross through.

In a race against time, they proceeded along the sea bed. As they came close to crossing to the opposite shore, they glanced back to see Pharaoh's army still relentlessly pursuing them. They were unmoved in the face of Allah's miraculous intervention. People from Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) nation begged to close the path behind them.

However, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) instructed him to hold back as He had a plan for the tyrant ruler.

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Death of the Pharaoh

Pharaoh had declared to his army that the sea had parted at his command to pursue the infidels and arrest them. So they rushed through the partition.

When they were midway, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) ordered the sea to return to its former state. Pharaoh began panicking.

pharaoh chases after moses and drowns

With fear in his mind, knowing that his end was near, he cried out:
“I believe that there is no god but Allah in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am also one of those who submit to Allah.”
— (Surah Yunus, ayah 90)

But his proclamation was insincere and late.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) said in the Quran:

English Translation:

"Now you believe, although you disobeyed earlier and were one of the mischief-makers. We shall now save your corpse that you may serve as a sign of warning for all posterity, although many men are heedless of Our signs."
(Surah Yunus, ayat 91-92)

The waves of the Red Sea drowned the Pharaoh and his army.

His corpse washed ashore as a reminder and a sign for the Egyptians and all other disbelievers that the man they worshiped was a mere slave who spread corruption in the land and met his end most tragically.

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The Israelites' Wavering Obedience.

The miraculous parting of the Red Sea was still fresh in the Israelites' minds when they passed by a town of idol-worshippers on their way to the promised land.

Accustomed to worshiping Pharoah and the Gods he approved, the Israelites felt an idol was amiss. Although they were aware that it was none other than Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) who saved them from the tyrant, they couldn’t help but desire an idol for themselves.

moses people want idols

“O Musa! Make for us a god like their gods,”
they asked their Prophet.
— (Surah Al-A’raf, ayah 138)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was appalled that his people had learned nothing from their trials: “Indeed, you are a people acting ignorantly! What they follow is certainly doomed to destruction and their deeds are in vain. Shall I seek for you a god other than Allah, while He has honored you above the others?”
— (Surah Al-A’raf, ayat 138-140)

Still, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) favored Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) nation.

When the Israelites quarreled over the shortage of water, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) ordered His Messenger to "Strike the rock with your staff" (Surah Baqarah, ayah 60).

Upon striking, the rock miraculously split, revealing twelve springs to quench the thirst of the twelve different tribes. When they were overcome with hunger, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) offered them quail and manna (the dried exudate of certain plants). Despite this, they were never content.

musa strikes rocks

They approached Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and said:
“O Musa, we cannot endure one and the same sort of food. Pray your Lord to bring for us the products of the earth green herbs, vegetables, corn, garlic, onions, pulses and the like.”
— (Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 61)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) reprimanded them:
“What! 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!”
— (Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 61)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) guided Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, where they were destined to live in freedom and adhere to Allah's law. However, during their journey, they were ungrateful. They incessantly whined and cried, showing little appreciation.

two men ready to fight

When Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) ordered them to conquer Canaan, a land occupied by their enemies (the Hittites), they hesitated. This is despite their vast numbers, which are reportedly 600,000 people. Only two men stood ready to fight, trusting in Allah's plan, while the rest cowered away.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) said to his people:
“My people, remember Allah’s favour upon you when He raised Prophets amongst you and appointed you rulers, and granted to you what He had not granted to anyone else in the world. My people! Enter the holy land which Allah has ordained for you; and do not turn back for then you will turn about losers.”

They answered:
‘Moses, therein live a ferocious people: we will not enter unless they depart from it; but if they do depart from it then we will surely enter it.’
— (Surah Al-Mai’dah, ayat 20-22)

The two men tried to convince their people.

They said:
“Assault them through the gate, for when you are in, victory will be yours, and put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed."

Nevertheless they said:
‘O Musa! Never shall we enter it as long as they are there. Go forth, then, you and your Lord, and fight, both of you. As for us, we will sit here.’”
— (Surah Al-Mai’dah, ayat 23-24)

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Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) meets Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ)

Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was frustrated and tired.

He finally gave up on his people as he knew that no matter what Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) bestowed upon them, they would not be content and would continue to transgress. He returned to his Lord, asking to be responsible only for the actions of himself and his brother, Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

So, he pleaded with his Lord:
"My Lord! I have no control over anyone except myself and my brother. So set us apart from the rebellious people.

Allah said:
'This land will now be forbidden to them for forty years and they will remain wandering about on the earth. Do not grieve over the condition of these transgressing people.'"
— (Surah Al-Ma'idah, ayat 25-26)

Their journey transformed into an endless cycle of restless wandering, where each day seemed to end where it began. Aimlessly, they traveled through the desert until, one day, their path brought them to Mount Sinai, the sacred site of Musa's first encounter with Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

Here, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) broke away from the group to seek out guidance as he felt lost and unsure of what to do next.

He left the group under the leadership of Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

prophet musa leaves group

At the mount, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) sought direction from his Lord on how best to lead his people. Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) responded, instructing his Messenger to purify himself first by fasting for thirty days. Following this command, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) would then give him the laws by which to govern his people.

He stayed at the top of the mountain alone, and on the final day of fasting, he ate from a plant intending to freshen his breath. He believed it was important to present himself in the best manner possible before standing in front of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).


Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then spoke to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ):
“Why did you break your fast?”

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) replied:
“O my Lord, I disliked to speak to You with my mouth not having a pleasant smell.”

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) said:
“Do you not know Musa, the odor of the faster's mouth is more fragrant to Me than the rose. Go back and fast ten days; then come back to Me."

Hence, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) fasted for an additional ten days.

English Translation:

"And We appointed for Moses thirty nights, to which We added ten, whereby the term of forty nights set by his Lord was fulfilled."
— (Surah Al-A'raf, ayah 143)

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) replied:
“Never can you see Me. However, behold this mount; if it remains firm in its place, only then you will be able to see Me”

allah swt reveal himself to mountain

As soon as Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) manifested himself to the mountain, it collapsed to a heap of dust, leaving Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) unconscious from the flash.

When Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) recovered, he cried out:
“Glory be to You! To You I turn in repentance, and I am the foremost among those who believe”
— (Surah Al-A’raf, ayah 143)

The Almighty said to Musa:
“O Musa! I have indeed preferred you to all others by virtue of the Message I have entrusted to you and by virtue of My speaking to you. Hold fast therefore, to whatever I have granted you, and give thanks”
— (Surah Al-A’raf, ayah 144)

The Ten Commandments.

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) then revealed to Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) tablets of stone inscribed with His divine rules and laws.

In the Qur'an, it is believed the exact commandments Musa (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) was given were also revealed to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) in Surah Al-An'am:
"Say, O Prophet, "Come! Let me recite to you what your Lord has forbidden to you: do not associate others with Him in worship. Do not fail to honor your parents. Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for you and them. Do not come near indecencies, openly or secretly. Do not take a human life—made sacred by Allah—except with legal right. And do not come near the wealth of the orphan—unless intending to enhance it—until they attain maturity. Give full measure and weigh with justice. We never require any soul more than what it can afford. Whenever you speak, maintain justice—even regarding a close relative. And fulfill your covenant with Allah. This is what He has commanded you, so perhaps you will be mindful. And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous."
— (Surah Al-An’am, ayat 151-153)

Note: Islam does not accept the absolute authority of the Bible as it has become corrupted over the years. So, although the Ten Commandments were mentioned in Surah Al-An'am, which has many crossovers with the commandments of the Bible, they also have their difference. However, if we go beyond these verses, the sentiment of the Ten Commandments can be found in other places of the Qur'an and Sunnah. For example, instead of "remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy," the Qur'an states, "O you who believe, when the prayer is announced on Friday, then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew." (Surah Al-Jumu'ah, ayah 9)

Parallel sayings to the ten commandments found in Islam with Judaism/Christianity
Surah Al-An'am Ayat 151–153

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Other verses of Qur'an and Sunnah

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Bible Exodus 20:2–17

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1. Do not associate others with Allah in worship (shirk).
"And your god is one God. There is no deity [worthy of worship] except Him, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful." (2:163)

"And do not invoke with Allah another deity. There is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgement, and to Him you will be returned." (28:88)
You shall have no other gods before or besides me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
2. Do good to your parents. 
Abu Hurayra said, "The Prophet (ﷺ) was asked, 'Messenger of Allah, to whom should I be dutiful?' 'Your mother,' he replied. He was asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. He was asked, 'Then whom?' 'Your mother,' he replied. He was asked, 'Then whom?' He replied, 'Your father.'" (Authenthic Sahih Hadith, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 5)
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
3. Do not slay your children out of fear of poverty. We provide you and will likewise provide them with sustenance;
"O Prophet, when the believing women come to you pledging to you that they will not associate anything with Allah, nor will they steal, nor will they commit unlawful sexual intercourse, nor will they kill their children, nor will they bring forth a slander they have invented between their arms and legs, nor will they disobey you in what is right – then accept their pledge and ask forgiveness for them of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful." (60:12)
4. Do not even draw to things shameful – be they open or secret;
"And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way." (17:32)
You shall not commit adultery.
5. Do not take a human life — made sacred by Allah — except with legal right.
"Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind…" (5:32)
You shall not murder.
6. Do not come near the wealth of the orphan — unless intending to enhance it — until they attain maturity.
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "When (a person) an adulterer commits illegal sexual intercourse then he is not a believer at the time he is doing it; and when somebody steals, then he is not a believer at the time he is stealing." (Sahih al-Bukhari 6782)
You shall not steal. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
7. Give full measure and weigh with justice. We never require any soul more than what it can afford.
8. Whenever you speak, maintain justice — even regarding a close relative.
It was narrated that 'Ubaidullah bin abi Bakr said: "I heard Ana's say: 'The Messenger of Allah said: 'the major sins are; associating others with Allah (shirk), disobeying one's parents, killing a soul (murder) and speaking falsely. Sunan an-Nasa'i 4867
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
--- "O you who believe, when the prayer is announced on Friday, then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew." (Surah Al-Jumu'ah, ayah 9)
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
"And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing." (7:180)
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
9. And fulfill your covenant with Allah. This is what He has commanded you, so perhaps you will be mindful.
10. And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. ---

Table 1.0: Verses of the Qur'an and Sunnah compared with the Biblical ten commandments.

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The Story of the Golden Calf

During the absence of Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), the task of leading the people temporarily fell on Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ). However, as the days passed, a sense of restlessness and unease began to grow among the people.

Taking advantage of this sentiment, a corrupted and rebellious magician, whom the Qur'an refers to as Samiri, spread a rumor that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) had abandoned them. He then proposed they should look for another god to guide them, for they were lost.

gold collected for calf

With no opposition from the people, he collected the gold jewelry they had received from the Egyptians and placed the items in a pit. He then kindled a large fire, melting the gold down.

golden calf

During the casting, he theatrically threw dust and made gestures to enhance the illusion of his "magic." Skillfully, he shaped the molten gold into the form of a calf, hollow in construction.

This was engineered with a distinct purpose: Samiri knew the people's history and how similar superstitions of the past fooled them. And so, when the wind blew through the calf, it produced a sound mimicking something supernatural. And so, many people just accepted the Golden as their new god.

Prophet Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was in great distress.

He tried to warn them by saying,
“My people, you were fallen into error because of the calf. Surely your Lord is Most Compassionate; so follow me and obey my command.

But they answered:
“By no means shall we cease to worship it until Moses returns to us.”
— (Surah At-Taha, ayat 90-91)

harun and angry people

However, a group of them remained patient, believing in Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) and his message. They distanced themselves from the idol worshippers awaiting Musa's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) return.

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Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Returns:

Back at Mount Sinai, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) revealed to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ):
“We have indeed tested your people in your absence, and the Samiri has led them astray.”
— (Surah At-Taha, ayah 85)

The Israelites danced and chanted around the statue of the golden calf when Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) made his return. Witnessing the current state of his people, he was overwhelmed with a mix of sorrow and fury.

He said:
“My people! Has your Lord not made good an excellent promise He made to you? And has a long time passed since those promises were fulfilled? Or was it to incur the wrath of your Lord that you broke your promise with me?

They answered:
“We did not break our promise with you out of our own volition; but we were laden with the load of people’s ornaments, and we simply threw them down (into the fire), and the Samiri also threw down something,”
— (Surah At-Taha, ayat 86-87)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then turned to his brother with anger. He understood the people's weaknesses, but he held Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) responsible for not preventing this idolatrous behavior.

He threw the tablets down and seized his brother by his beard, pulling him towards him, he said.
"Harun! What prevented you, when you saw them going astray,"
— (Surah Taha, ayah 92)

Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) explained:
"My mother’s son, the people overpowered me and almost killed me. So let not my enemies gloat over me, and do not number me among the wrong-doing folk.”
— (Surah Al-A'raf, ayah 150)

musa and harun

Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) anger subsided when he realized that his brother was helpless.

Musa then questioned Samiri:
“What, then, is your case, O Samiri?”

He answered:
“I saw what the people did not see. So I took a handful of dust from the trail of the Messenger, and I flung it (into the fire). Thus did my mind prompt me.”

Musa said:
“Be gone, then. All your life you shall cry: 'touch me not.' There awaits a term for your reckoning that you cannot fail to keep. Now look at your god that you devotedly adored: We shall burn it and scatter its remains in the sea.
— (Surah Taha, ayat 95-97)

golden calf on fire

Samiri was banished and forced to live a life of isolation. As for the golden calf, it was destroyed by fire, and its ashes spread across the sea.

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The Punishment of the Idolaters.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) then addresses his people, asking them to seek forgiveness from Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) for their disobedience. The punishment decreed for their transgression was severe.

As mentioned in the Qur'an, Musa says,
"O my people, you have wronged yourselves grievously by taking the calf for worship. Therefore, turn to your Creator. in penitence and slay the guilty ones among you. This is best for you in the sight of your Creator."
— (Surah Baqarah, ayah 54)

Some among the elites questioned whether the divine laws brought by Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) were really from Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) and wanted evidence. So, Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) chose seventy elders from among the Israelites to travel to Mount Sinai where he once again ordered, "Rush towards Allah and repent for what you did and ask His forgiveness for what you left." The men remained arrogant and disbelieving.

To show His boundless mercy, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) spoke directly to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) in the presence of the Israelites, so they may hear His words and believe. Despite this, their disbelief persisted.

They confronted their prophet with a new demand, saying: "O Musa! We will never believe you until we see Allah with our own eyes."
— (Surah Al-Baqarah, ayah 55)

It was apparent that nothing could convince the men to abandon their old ways and worship Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

70 elders dead

So Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) made Himself known to the seventy men through 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.

Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was overcome with sorrow for his people. He appealed to his Lord to pardon them for their foolish actions.

Allah, the most merciful, forgave them and brought them back to life.

English Translation:

"At that very time a thunderbolt struck you while you were looking on and you fell lifeless. Then We raised you to life so that you might become grateful for this favour."

— Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 55-56

In Surah Al-A'raf, verses 155-157, we are told of the supplication that Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) had made:

"‘Had You willed, O my Lord, You could have destroyed them and me long ago. Will You destroy us for what the fools amongst us did? That was nothing but a trial from You whereby You mislead whom You will and guide whom You will. You alone are our guardian. Forgive us, then, and have mercy upon us. You are the best of those who forgive. And ordain for us what is good in this world and in the World to Come for to You have we turned.’

He replied: ‘I afflict whomsoever I wish with My chastisement. As for My mercy, it encompasses everything. will show mercy to those who abstain from evil, pay Zakat and have faith in Our signs.’ [To-day this mercy is for] those who follow the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel with them. He enjoins upon them what is good and forbids them what is evil. He makes the clean things lawful to them and prohibits all corrupt things, and removes from them their burdens and the shackles that were upon them. So those who believe in him and assist him, and succour him and follow the Light which has been sent down with him, it is they who shall prosper."

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The Story of Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and Al-Khidr.

During the journey to the promised land, Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) himself learned many lessons. One of these teachings is recorded in a hadith narration found in Sahih al-Bukhari, reference 3401, as well as at-Tirmidhi 3149. In this account, Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) meets a wise man known as Al-Khidr.

The story begins with a man who, after listening to a sermon by the prophet, approaches him and asks who he thought was the most learned man amongst the people.

Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) replied:
“It is I.”

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) was not pleased with Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) response as he did not attribute absolute knowledge to Almighty Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) told Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ):
“At the junction where the two seas meet, there is a slave of Mine who is more learned than you.”

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was eager to meet this learned person. So he asked the Almighty:
"O my Lord! How can I meet him?”

Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) replied:
“Take a fish and put it in a large basket and you will find him at the place where you will lose the fish.”

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) was determined. So he took a fish, placed it in a basket, and set out with his boy servant, Yusha ibn Nun, in search of the learned man.

fish in basket

“I will never give up until I reach the junction of the two seas, even if I travel for ages,” he told his boy-servant.
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 60)

fish escapes from basket

When the duo paused their journey and briefly rested, unknown to the two, the fish fell out of the basket and slipped into the sea.
"But when they reached the point where the two rivers meet, they forgot their fish, and it took its way into the sea, as if through a tunnel."
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 61)

The pair resumed their journey, traveling all night until they paused once again to rest for the night.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) instructed Yusha:
“Bring us our meal! We have certainly been exhausted by today’s journey.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 62)

Before long, Yusha realized that they had lost the fish. He went rushing to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ).

“Did you see when we retired to the rock? Indeed, I forgot [there] the fish. And none made me forget it except Shaitan – that I should mention it. And it took its course into the sea amazingly." he said.
— (Surah Al-Kahf 18:63)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) replied:
“That is exactly what we were looking for.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 64)

So they retraced their footsteps and returned to the location, the area where the two seas meet.

There, they saw a man lying covered with a garment.

"and there they found one of Our servants upon whom We had bestowed Our mercy, and to whom We had imparted a special knowledge from Ourselves."
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 65)

man lying covered with garment

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) approached the man, greeted him, and introduced himself.

The man, who was named Al-Khidr, asked:
“Musa of Bani Israel?”

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) said to him:
“May l follow you that you may teach me something of the wisdom which you have been taught?”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 66)

Al-Khidr replied:
“O Musa! I have some of the knowledge of Allah which Allah has taught me, and which you do not know, while you have some of the knowledge of Allah which Allah has taught you and which I do not know.”

Musa then asked,
"May I follow you?"

He replied:
“Surely, you will never be able to endure with me patiently. And how can you be patient with what is beyond your realm of knowledge?”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, 67-68)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) did not back down. He assured the man:
“You will find me patient, Allah willing, and I will not disobey any of your orders.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 69)

Al-Khidr said:
“Then if you follow me, do not question me about anything until I clarify it for you.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 70)

So the two men set out walking along the seashore when a boat passed by.

Al-Khidr requested the crew to take them aboard. The crew who recognized Al-Khidr took them aboard at no charge.

When the men were aboard the boat, a sparrow flew in and perched itself on the edge of the boat while dipping its beak into the sea, quenching its thirst.

Al-Khadir said to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ):
“O Musa! My knowledge and your knowledge have not decreased Allah's Knowledge except as much as this sparrow has decreased the water of the sea with its beak.”

Then, out of the blue, Al-Khidr took an axe and began striking the boat's deck, creating a hole.

boat deck break

Moses exclaimed:
“Have you made a hole in it so as to drown the people in the boat? You have certainly done an awful thing."
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 71)

"He replied:'Did I not tell you that you will not be able to patiently bear with me?'”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 72)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) pleaded:
“Excuse me for forgetting, and do not be hard on me for my fault.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 73)

touches boys head

When they had left the sea, they passed by a boy playing with other boys. Al-Khidr took hold of the boy’s head and plucked it with his hand.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) protested once again:
“Have you killed an innocent soul, who killed no one? You have certainly done a horrible thing.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 74)

He answered,
“Did I not tell you that you will not be able to patiently bear with me?"
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 75)

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) replied:
“If I ever question you about anything after this, then do not keep me in your company, for by then I would have given you enough of an excuse.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 76)

They then traveled until they reached a town. They asked them for food, but the people refused to accord them hospitality.

In the town, they found a wall that was ready to collapse, so Al-Khidr repaired it with the touch of his hand.

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) commented:
“If you wanted, you could have demanded a fee for this.”
— (Surah Al-Kahf, ayah 77)

man touches the wall

Al-Khidr responded:
“This brings me and you to a parting of ways. Now I shall explain to you the true meaning of things about which you could not remain patient.

As for the ship, it belonged to some poor people, working at sea. So I intended to damage it, for there was a tyrant king ahead of them who seizes every good ship by force.

And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. So we desired that their Lord should grant them another in his place, a son more upright and more tender hearted.

And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and under the wall was a treasure that belonged to them, and their father had been a righteous man. So your Lord willed that these children should come of age and retrieve their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord.

I did not do it all on my own. This is the explanation of what you could not bear patiently.”

— (Surah Al-Kahf, 18:78-82)

The statement, "I did not do it all on my own," gives the impression that his actions were because of revelation or divine guidance of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). This leads some to the conclusion that Al-Khidr, unbeknownst to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), was either an angel or prophet himself.

Regardless of Khidr's exact identity, the story imparts an important teaching to place our complete trust in Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). Man's knowledge is limited, lacking context and understanding of the future. Whoever trusts their Lord, knowing his attributes of being kind, loving, and merciful, will see that He ultimately guides humanity towards good.

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Prophet Musa’s (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) death.

Once, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) distributed something (among his followers. A man said, "This distribution has not been done (with justice) seeking Allah's Countenance." I went to the Prophet (ﷺ) and told him (of that). He became so angry that I saw the signs of anger on his face. Then he said, "May Allah bestow His Mercy on Moses, for he was harmed more (in a worse manner) than this; yet he endured patiently." (Sahih al-Bukhari 3405)

And in the Qur'an, Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) says,
"Believers, do not be like those who distressed Moses and then Allah declared him quit of the ill they spoke about him; and he had a high standing with Allah."
Surah Ahzab, ayah 69

Musa suffered terribly from his people and endured much for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ). He was courageous, intelligent, strong, loving, and devoted to serving both his nation and his Lord. His life's mission was the liberation of the children of Israel from tyranny and oppression and to guide them toward righteousness. It is believed that after forty years of wandering, the children of Israel were finally granted entry into the promised land. However, this was without their leader Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) or Harun (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), as they were both called back to return to their creator before this date.

angel of death visits Musa

In Sahih al-Bukhari 1339, narrated by Abu Huraira, it was said that the angel of death was sent to Prophet Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ), and he hit the angel in his eyes.

The angel returned to his Lord and said:
"You sent me to a slave who does not want to die."

Allah restored the angel's eye and said:
"Go back and tell Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) to place his hand over the back of an ox for he will be allowed to live for a number of years equal to the number of hairs coming under his hand."

So the angel went to Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) and informed him of the same.

Then Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) asked Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ):
"O my Lord! What will be after that?"

He replied:

Musa (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) said:
"Let it be now."

He then requested Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) that upon his death, he should be buried near the holy Land at a distance of a stone's throw, and Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ) who had bestowed many miracles for his faithful Prophet accommodated his final request.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said,
'If I were there, I would show you his grave below the red sand hill on the side of the road."

And on his night journey, The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
"I passed by the grave of Musa, peace be upon him, and he was praying in his grave."
— (Sahih (Darussalam) Sunan an-Nasa'i 1634)

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The Story Continues.

It is the majority view of most scholars that Yusha ibn nun, the servant who accompanied Musa on his trip with Al-Khidr, then took place as the leader of Bani Israel. He led the next generation into Jerusalem and Bayt al-Maqdis (Masjid al-Aqsa). Although not mentioned as a Prophet in the Qur'an, hadith evidence supports the view that he, too, was a Prophet of Allah (سُبْحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ).

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