Prophet Musa (AS) – Part II

A NEW LIFE

Having killed a man, and knowing that the Pharaoh and his men were hot on his heels, Musa AS escaped Egypt. He did not know exactly where to head, for he had never stepped outside of Egypt before. Nevertheless, he went towards Madyan, and said that “I hope that my Lord will lead me to the right path.” (Qur’an 28:22)

He had no mode of transportation, cash or any provisions. He only had the clothes on his back. Imagine if we were in his position, fleeing without credentials, money, or even an ATM card to pay for the next meal! Ibn Abbas RA reported that Musa AS went from Egypt to Madyan eating only plants and leaves. He was barefooted and his stomach was stuck to his back as a result of his hunger, a direct contrast to the palace luxuries.

When he reached the wells of Madyan (if we recall, it was the same location that Shuaib’s AS community used to live before they were destroyed), he observed a group of shepherds watering their flocks. He also spotted two women modestly keeping themselves and their own flocks segregated from the men. He enquired what the matter was, and the women explained that they were sisters and to protect their chastity and personal security, could only draw water from the well once the men had dispersed. Their father was elderly and unable to perform the task himself.

According to reports, once the men were done, they would cover the mouth well with a big rock to protect it, leaving the women the only option of using the leftover water from the previous flock. According to Umar RA, the rock was so heavy that it required the strength of ten men to carry it, however, Musa AS had been bestowed with exceeding strength. On this day, Musa AS removed the rock and helped the sisters water the flock.

Then, tired and hungry, he went into the shade and said “My Lord! I am in need of any good that You may send to me! (Qur’an 28:24) This humble manner was befitting of a Prophet and teaches us how to ask Allah for help.

When the sisters came home from their daily tasks earlier than usual, their father was surprised. They related the incident to him, upon which he asked one of them to fetch Musa AS and bring him home. According to the Qur’an, one of the two returned to Musa AS, approached him with shyness, and explained that that her father had invited Musa AS to reward him for his kind act. Musa AS complied, and explained his circumstances to their father. The latter, who himself was a righteous man, reassured him not to be afraid, for he had done well to escape from the evildoers.

A MARRIAGE PROPOSAL

While Musa AS was in conversation, one of the sisters hinted to her father that he should hire Musa AS. She suggested that he should “Engage him on wages, surely, the best of those you can employ is the one who is strong and trustworthy.” (Qur’an 28:26)

She was alluding that because of his character, Musa AS was a choice prospect for a son in law. Musa AS was without any means of providing for his future wife. However, he was clearly of sound character. Therefore, in consideration of marrying his daughter, the father offered Musa AS employment for eight years, and if Musa AS felt gracious, for an additional two years. However, the older man clarified that it was not his intention to impose hardship upon Musa AS, and thus Musa AS could, of his own volition, work either duration. Musa AS agreed to the terms, and most reports say that he worked for the entire tenure of ten years. He had remained employed for that time, solely for food and for his modesty, and not for wealth.

All Prophets and Messengers have to spend some portion of their lives as shepherds, to isolate and sever themselves from the distractions of the worldly life. Tending a flock requires the type of patience and vigilance that can only be learnt on the job rather than through observation. This patience and self-awareness is key for them to focus on their relationship with God as a preparation for the difficult task ahead. This time is also known as the waqfat tarbiyah, the time and place for Allah to teach them of His Oneness and to train their manner and character. This was the kind of training that cannot be gleaned from books. Musa AS was no different, and further, his time in the desert eradicated the influence that the corrupt lifestyle at the palace might have had on him. This stage of his life was the final preparation for his great destiny as one of the mightiest Prophets and Messengers of Allah.

In the final year, as a reward for his hard work, his father in law offered that for the next breeding season, all lambs born with a particular rare colour would belong to Musa AS. According to some reports, by the will of Allah, the next season, every ewe bore twins, and each alternate sheep was of that rare colour. Therefore, from owning virtually nothing, he amassed a modest amount of wealth.

CONVERSATION WITH ALLAH – THE FIRST REVELATION

Years passed, and Musa AS missed his family in Egypt. Once his contract with his father in law was fulfilled, he set back with his wife and family back towards his homeland. We have to remember that he was still, as far as Egypt was concerned, a fugitive.

It was at this time that events took a strange turn. To reach Egypt, they had to cross the Sinai desert. On one particularly cold and dark night, they seemed to have lost their way. As Musa AS walked in the darkness, he saw a light in the distance, on the side of Mount Tur. He directed his family: “Stay here, I see a fire, I hope I may bring you from that you may warm yourselves.” (Qur’an 28:29) The same incident was also reported in Surah Ta Ha, 20:9, and Surat An Naml, 27:7.

He approached the light and found something wondrous – there was a green tree but it was glowing and burning with an unusual fire and light! Musa AS was, at this time, in the valley of Tuwa, facing the Qibla, when his Lord called out to him. Surah Ta Ha sets out the conversation beautifully:

And when he came to it, he was called, “O Musa,

Indeed, I am your Lord, so remove your sandals. Indeed, you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa.

And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed [to you].

Indeed, I am Allah . There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance.(Qur’an 20:11 – 20:14)

The message continued:

Indeed, the Hour is coming – I almost conceal it – so that every soul may be recompensed according to that for which it strives.

So do not let one avert you from it who does not believe in it and follows his desire, for you [then] would perish. (Qur’an 20:15-16)

How great a guidance it was, for this was the beginning to the revelations to Musa AS. From a firsthand introduction by Allah Almighty Himself, and the order to worship Him, Musa AS was immediately directed not to be distracted from such worship by the non believers. In the first few powerful sentences, Allah has comprehensively reminded Musa AS, and by extension, us as the readers of the Qur’an, of the impending destruction of this temporary world, and of our reckoning thereafter. Imagine the magnitude of the Message and the impact it had on Musa AS!

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE STAFF

Barely had Musa AS the time to absorb the first revelation when the conversation shifted to another topic: his staff, or walking stick. This is the cadence of the Qur’an – it sometimes presents a general snapshot of the scenario, before suddenly narrowing onto a specific topic or object.

Surah Ta Ha continues:

And what is that in your right hand, O Musa?”

He said, “It is my staff; I lean upon it, and I bring down leaves for my sheep and I have therein other uses.” (Qur’an 20:17-18)

Of course, Allah knew what the staff was for, and needed no explanation. However, here, we are drawn to the qualities of a simple walking stick, an everyday, nondescript and inanimate object.

[Allah] said, “Throw it down, O Musa.”

So he threw it down, and thereupon it was a snake, moving swiftly. (Qur’an 21:20)

His staff miraculously transformed into a writhing snake, pulsing with life and according to some reports, with huge fangs. Musa AS was naturally terrified by this unnatural metamorphosis and ran away. While attributed with strength of faith, Musa AS was also as human as the rest of us, and was freaked out by what he saw.

However:

[Allah] said, “Seize it and fear not; We will return it to its former condition. (Qur’an 20:21)

Musa stopped in his tracks and picked the fearful reptilian by the head. Here was the first test of Musa’s AS faith. Within minutes of the first revelation, he was commanded to subordinate his natural terror to the obedience of Allah. Suppressing his fright, he picked up the snake by its head. As Allah promised, the serpent was restored into a staff.

Allah commanded him further:

And draw in your hand to your side; it will come out white without disease – another sign,

That We may show you [some] of Our greater signs. (Qur’an 20:22-23)

Reports say that Musa AS suffered from leprosy. He obeyed Allah’s command to put his arms around himself, to calm himself down. Lo and behold, when he withdrew his hand, his skin was flawless and free of disease.

Hence, the purpose of Allah’s question about the staff encapsulates the message of all messages: that Allah is the holder of the possible and the impossible. We tend to arrogantly rely on our intellect and forget that our knowledge and ability are so limited. The crucial message to Musa AS was the power and might of Allah, which is what Allah wanted him to grasp. The objects that can benefit can also harm, and the objects that can harm can also benefit, by the will of Allah.

This was the shortest journey in iman and yaqeenever amongst human beings.

THE PROPHETIC MISSION

Musa AS had spent over a decade in the desert as he was afraid of facing a murder trial in Egypt. Therefore, the next commandment from Allah must have been the last thing in the world that Musa AS wanted to do:

“Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed.” (Qur’an 21:24)

Now that Allah had given Musa AS some signs of His Might, the next order was to go back to the lion’s den and spread the message of Islam to the Pharaoh! Within minutes of the first revelation, Musa AS was asked to expose himself to the treacherous elements that he had been trying to hide from in the first place. What’s more, to do the impossible – preach Islam to the most tyrannical disbeliever in the world!

To complicate matters, Musa AS reportedly had a stammer, which surfaced whenever he was upset or agitated. Imagine if we had to debate with our President or Prime Minister, who was already hostile and ready to execute us – and we had a speech impediment to put us at a more severe disadvantage!

However, Musa AS knew that only Allah was the one able to override his physical shortcomings and increase his eloquence. It was only Allah who could grant him confidence.

[Musa] said, “My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance]

And ease for me my task

And untie the knot from my tongue

That they may understand my speech

And let him [i.e. his brother Harun] share my task

That we may exalt You much

And remember You much.

Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.” (Qur’an 20:25-35)

Allah gently recounted Musa’s AS entire life history – from how it was Allah Who had inspired his mother to place him in the basket when he was an infant, to restoring him to her and later, saving him from the reach of Pharaoh’s punishment. Further it was Allah who had ensured that he was provided for in Madyan. Musa’s AS entire life was an impossibility from the outset, yet it became possible because he had been in Allah’s care and sustenance throughout, simply because Allah had ordained it so.

At Musa’s AS request. Allah permitted his brother, Harun AS to accompany him for his mission. Then, Allah said:

“Go, you and your brother, with My signs and do not slacken in My remembrance. And speak to him [Pharaoh] with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear.” (Qur’an 20:44)

Here is a wonderful lesson on how to spread the message of Islam. Gentleness is a fundamental point in da’wah. Pharaoh was the worst tyrant on earth and proclaimed that he was the greatest God. Even with such despicable arrogance, Allah neither cursed him nor called him names. Instead, Allah still gave him a chance to repent and mend his ways. Musa AS was commanded to approach the Pharaoh and invite him towards Allah with kind speech.

Musa AS then expressed fear of punishment by the Pharaoh for the murder he had committed. Allah assured him:

“Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see.”(Qur’an 20:46)

This was a reassurance from Allah to go, and in return, He will give them support and victory. The power and victory of Allah now lay with a man, who in a few hours, was transformed from a shepherd into a prophet and messenger for the people of Egypt.

LESSONS FOR US

Proposals by women

The way the future wife of Musa AS proposed to him demonstrates that women are permitted to choose their husbands, and moreover, offer themselves in marriage in a discreet manner, either directly, or through an appropriate intermediary. People of the old days were quick to recognise quality, and women were, and still are, allowed to initiate the marriage proposal in order to gain a husband of good character and attributes. We see this again in the life of Prophet Muhammad SAW, whose first wife, Khadijah RA recognised his exemplary character and proposed to him.

The Power of Allah

The demonstrations of Allah’s power were just a glimpse of Allah’s Might. Within minutes of Musa AS being introduced to Allah, his faith was immediately put to the test, but Allah showed him just a sliver of His abilities, to give Musa AS enough signs to fortify his faith. It is the same for us. When one claims belief in Allah, that faith is not just professed by the tongue, but by the total obedience to commands of Allah, even if they are opposite one’s natural desires and instincts.

Look around us, and we see the evidence of Allah’s powers everywhere we go, through every miracle of creation that we see. The miracle witnessed by Musa AS was not in the snake, the staff or his skin condition, but rather, the Owner of such power to change any circumstance and situation. The staff was merely a tool to demonstrate that nothing is impossible in the Kingdom of Allah, the One who is able to change all conditions in ways beyond our limited human imagination. If we understand the overwhelming and all encompassing power of Allah, then obedience will follow easily.

The Fundamentals of Da’wah

Today when we give da’wah we start with halal and haram, when we ignore fundamental Oneness of the Creator illustrated in the incident of the staff.

Allah asked His own Prophet to address Pharaoh nicely, even though they were on the opposite extremes in the spectrum of good and evil. None of the Prophets and Messengers were bad mannered, and therefore, we do not have the license to spread Islam through aggression, argumentation and debates, most of which are centred around our inflamed egos and self righteousness, rather than a genuine compassion to save our brothers and sisters in humanity from the flames of hellfire.

Around eighty years after the death of Prophet Muhammad SAW, a Bedouin was granted an audience with a tyrant ruler in Iraq. He was notorious for slaughtering many Muslims, and it was said that at one point, the Ka’bah was flooded by the blood of those he had slain. The Bedouin addressed the ruler harshly, and the ruler asked: Are you better than Musa AS? Am I worse than Pharaoh? How harsh we can be sometimes in comparison to those we are trying to persuade towards Islam! Sometimes we get worked up, forgetting that none of us are at the level of Prophets, and neither are the people we speak to at the level of Pharaoh.

Another basic element is that, Allah is not assessing us based on our result, but rather, on the sincerity of our efforts. Nuh AS preached for over 950 years, which resulted in a small number of followers. Similarly, Musa AS was sent down to one of the most stubborn and disbelieving communities in mankind. Yet, both of them are amongst the greatest five Prophets and Messengers, for their ever-continuing perseverance in preaching to their communities, even though the results were sparse. Similarly, Allah will not judge us by numbers, but rather, by our effort and obedience. Our mission is to try, but the results rest with Allah alone

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Prophet Musa (AS) – Part III

THE DA’WAH OF MUSA AS

Musa AS carried with him two commands for Pharaoh. The first was an invitation to Allah and the second was to release Bani Israel from all the torture and oppression imposed on them by Pharaoh’s regime. Proof was going to be required in this confrontation, and Musa AS was already armed with two of the nine signs that Allah would bestow upon him, his hand and his staff.

The Qur’an mentions: So go to him 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. (Qur’an 20:47-49) Therefore, Musa AS was to spread a message of peace, together with a warning for those who refused to follow the path of the truth.

Together with his brother, Harun AS, he went to Pharaoh. It is reported that they had to persist for two years before the palace guards plucked up the courage to ask permission from Pharaoh to grant them an audience.

If we recall, Musa AS had lived under Pharaoh’s roof for almost 40 years and had to flee Egypt to escape the death penalty when he accidentally killed a man. Therefore, Musa AS was already on thin ice in Pharaoh’s estimate. He was risking his life by engaging Pharaoh in such a controversial dialogue.

Nevertheless, once he faced Pharaoh and his assembly, Musa AS said, “O Pharaoh, I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds, [Who is] obligated not to say about Allah except the truth. I have come to you with clear evidence from your Lord, so send with me the Children of Israel.” (Qur’an 7:104-105)

Naturally Pharaoh was astonished at what he perceived to be sheer audacity on Musa’s AS part. He seized the opportunity to remind Musa AS of his upbringing and also to remind Musa AS of his crime – a veiled threat to Musa AS and his personal liberty. He did not respond to the call by Musa AS, but instead, employed tactics to discredit him.

[Pharaoh] said, “Did we not raise you among us as a child, and you remained among us for years of your life? And [then] you did your deed which you did, and you were of the ungrateful.” (Qur’an 26:18-19)

[Musa] said, “I did it, then, while I was of those astray. So I fled from you when I feared you. Then my Lord granted me wisdom and prophethood and appointed me [as one] of the messengers. (Qur’an 26:20-21)

Musa AS continued with a counter argument: “And is this a favour of which you remind me – that you have enslaved the Children of Israel?” (Qur’an 26:22), meaning, how can this tyrannical act ever be interpreted as a favour?

Instead of refuting this claim, Pharaoh asked, “And what is the Lord of the worlds?” (Qur’an 26:23) Musa AS replied “The Lord of the heavens and earth and that between them, if you should be convinced.” (Qur’an 26:24)

Pharaoh was incredulous and asked those around him, “Do you hear that?” The da’wah of Musa AS was only met with ridicule and laughter. Pharaoh then asked of his forefathers, to which Musa AS replied “Your Lord and the Lord of your first forefathers.” [Pharaoh] said, “Indeed, your ‘messenger’ who has been sent to you is mad.” (Qur’an 26:26-27) From a criminal, Musa AS was then relegated to the category of insane. Throughout history, the accusation of insanity was a common reaction against any Prophet or Messenger who was trying to establish the truth in his community.

Undeterred, Musa AS continued: “Lord of the east and the west and that between them, if you were to reason.” (Qur’an 26:28) This was a rational argument, for Pharaoh’s authority did not range as far as east to west, earth to heaven. The existence of all of that existed could only be attributed to the Creator, and anyone with understanding could see that plainly.

Refusing to accept Musa’s AS rationale, Pharaoh changed tactics and tried to intimidate both Musa AS and Harun AS: “If you take a god other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned.”Like all tyrants, Pharaoh wanted to play the role of judge, jury and executioner. [Musa] said, “Even if I brought you proof manifest?” [Pharaoh] said, “Then bring it, if you should be of the truthful.” (Qur’an 26:29-31)

In response to the challenge, Musa AS threw his staff, and it suddenly transformed into a serpent. He also drew out his hand, and it became white and radiant for all the observers to see.

By his own rules, Pharaoh had already lost the argument. However, in debates, the arrogant and ignorant are blind to the truth, no matter how glaring, and instead deflect logic and reality with distractions, smokescreens and digressions. If you were to ever rationalize with anyone stubborn or arrogant, he will not even stick to the original ground rules of the argument, but will keep changing the regulations as and when he pleases, going off tangent from one topic to the next. Just as there is a certain sunnah (an established way or sequence) in good, there is also a certain sunnah in evil. This trait was evident in Pharaoh.

Therefore, rather than accepting his defeat with integrity, Pharaoh said, “Have you come to us to drive us out of our land with your magic, O Musa?” (Qur’an 20:58) Again, he failed to acknowledge the reason supporting Musa’s AS mission, which was to spread truth and justice. Just like strategy of all corrupted leaders and politicians, he played the role of the good guy while slinging accusations at the innocent.

[Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, “Indeed, this is a learned magician. He wants to drive you out of your land by his magic, so what do you advise?” (Qur’an 26:34-35) Ever the manipulator, Pharaoh played on the fear and paranoia of his self-serving counsel, uniting all of them against Musa AS. In a few short minutes, the accusations changed from criminal, madman, magician to usurper!

They said, “Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers, Who will bring you every learned, skilled magician.” (Qur’an 26:36-37). Realising that their positions and status in Pharaoh’s court were at stake, Pharaoh’s sycophants and cronies banded against Musa AS, asking for time to gather their own forces so that the defeat of Musa AS and Harun AS would be absolute.

Pharaoh announced to both brothers: “Then we will surely bring you magic like it, so make between us and you an appointment, which we will not fail to keep and neither will you, in a place assigned.” (Qur’an 20:58)

Musa knew that Allah would grant him victory, and played this to his advantage. He asked for the contest between magicians and prophets to take place on the day of a prominent festival, during the mid-morning. At this time and place, the contest would unfold in broad daylight and in clear visibility of the crowd. This way, once the magicians were defeated, it would be in everyone’s plain view, obviating any opportunity to deny the defeat of Pharaoh and his magicians.

Their appointment agreed, Musa AS and Harun AS were imprisoned while the magicians were given the opportunity to coordinate and make preparations.

THE DAY OF THE FESTIVAL

The day of the festival drew upon them.

Prophets and Messengers are not sent to bring us harm. Their role is to guide us to the truth. Hence, this match was not a battle of ego for Musa AS, but rather a means of guiding people to the truth. With this in mind, he warned the congregation of magicians that had gathered to pitch their skills against him:

“Woe to you! Do not invent a lie against Allah or He will exterminate you with a punishment; and he has failed who invents [such falsehood]. (Qur’an 20:61).

This caused some consternation amongst the magicians. They discussed this privately – was he indeed a Prophet as he had claimed, or a magician like them? Finally, they declared, in a manner that would instigate hostility against the two Prophets amongst the swelling crowd: “Indeed, these are two magicians who want to drive you out of your land with their magic and do away with your most exemplary way. So resolve upon your plan and then come [forward] in line. And he has succeeded today who overcomes.” (Qur’an 20:63-64)

They sought confirmation from Pharaoh that the winner of this event would be granted favours and other rewards from him, including being elevated in status to be closer to him. Pharaoh agreed.

This must have been the event of a lifetime for the audience. The magicians came in rank and faced Musa AS and Harun AS. They asked Musa AS who would be the first to cast, and Musa AS deferred to them and let them throw first.

The magicians threw their instruments of magic, such as their ropes and staffs, and suddenly it seemed is if such instruments were moving like snakes. These were not in fact snakes, but rather, the Qur’an explains: When they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people and struck terror into them, and they presented a great [feat of] magic. (Qur’an 7:116)

It would probably be akin to mass hypnosis, where the audience were made to see something that was not there. While the magicians used sorcery, such modern day tools still exist through other means, such as the mass media, which is often utilised as a means of baffling and fooling the general public to believe something false.

The magicians were triumphant and declared themselves the winners: “By the might of Pharaoh, indeed it is we who are predominant.” (Qur’an 26:44)

Musa AS, seeing these repulsive and ungodly objects slithering towards him, felt a momentary apprehension. However, Allah said, “Fear not. Indeed, it is you who are superior. And throw what is in your right hand; it will swallow up what they have crafted. What they have crafted is but the trick of a magician, and the magician will not succeed wherever he is.” (Qur’an 20:68-69)

It must have been a momentous sight to watch. Musa AS threw his staff to the ground and it immediately became a snake, which devoured all the snakes one by one. There was bedlam, the onlookers were terrified by this spectacle and started fleeing to watch this event from a safe distance.

This was the tipping point! Pharaoh and his magicians were speechless, their public defeat was incontrovertible. The truth was established, and the magicians’ trickery and sorcery were proven false in the eyes of all the spectators. None of Pharaoh or his magicians saw this coming!

What did this defeat mean to the magicians? At this time, magicians were not in the business of show business like today. Rather, magic and sorcery were taken seriously and played a large role in Egyptian politics. Sorcerers formed the scholarly elite and learned of society, many of them holding high positions and having the role of advising Pharaoh and his inner sanctum. Yet, they immediately recognised the truth. From being the disbelievers who dabbled in the dark arts, something miraculous happened. They knew that what they saw was not some cheap sleight of hand, but rather, the power of Allah at work.

Before the crowd, they unanimously fell down in prostration to the Lord of all the worlds. Here they were, esteemed and highly regarded by society. By embracing Islam, they had everything to lose – their positions, salaries, political connections and even their lives. But this did not stop them.

So the magicians fell down in prostration. They said, “We have believed in the Lord of Harun and Musa.” (Qur’an 20:70)

This was probably the last thing Pharaoh expected or needed! He was furious by the turn of events and true to his arrogant and cruel nature said:

“You believed him before I gave you permission. Indeed, he is your leader who has taught you magic. So I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of palm trees, and you will surely know which of us is more severe in [giving] punishment and more enduring.” (Qur’an 20:71)

Again, even though Musa AS had won the contest in accordance with Pharaoh’s own rules, the latter refused to acknowledge defeat. Instead, he made a ridiculous assertion that Musa AS had conspired with the magicians and had taught them – a claim made even more absurd given that both Musa AS and Harun AS were locked up in prison during the time the magicians were gathered for this event.

Further, Pharaoh was not issuing an empty warning. The punishment he promised was horrific, disgraceful and agonising. The magicians knew that Pharaoh would deliver his threat and more. Yet, they held firm to their newfound faith:

They said, “No harm. Indeed, to our Lord we will return. Indeed, we aspire that our Lord will forgive us our sins because we were the first of the believers.” (26:50-51)

They also said, “Never will we prefer you over what has come to us of clear proofs and [over] He who created us. So decree whatever you are to decree. You can only decree for this worldly life. Indeed, we have believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our sins and what you compelled us [to do] of magic. And Allah is better and more enduring.” (Qur’an 20:72-73)

How magnificent was their faith and their courage! In a split second, Allah had altered their vision and allowed them to see the truth, gave them the humility to admit the error of their ways and instilled in their hearts steadfastness against the physical torture that lay ahead for them. In a few minutes, they changed from being disbelievers to one of the best Muslims. Their faith took root in their hearts so quickly and firmly – in the morning, they were trying to defeat and humiliate the Messenger of Allah, and now, they were willing to martyred for his faith and theirs. There was no turning back for them, no matter what the earthly consequences. It is reported that when the magicians fell in prostration, they saw their palaces and houses in Jannah, and this is why they did not feel threatened by Pharaoh. They knew that everlasting Paradise awaited them. Such was the magnitude of their faith, and such was the comfort provided by Allah in the last moments of their lives.

Their conversion was also unique because in respect of previous Prophets and Messengers, the elite had disdained the message while it was the weak and the poor who embraced Islam.

Meanwhile, upon the conversion of his esteemed magicians, Pharaoh was afraid of his authority unravelling. However, a greater shock was to come, the conversion of someone within his own household!

LESSONS LEARNT

Faith is not something that comes with age. Many of us are born into Islam, yet only a few of us have the absolute iman and taqwa demonstrated by the magicians. Their submission to Allah is mentioned a few times in the Qur’an, and when we read this, we should ask ourselves how highly we value our own faith, and how much we are willing to sacrifice for it. Many of us have deep rooted Islamic knowledge, yet when we are put under the spotlight, are we willing to stand up for Islam the way these people did? Within a few minutes, they were ready to lay their lives down for Islam, not because they had a complete understanding of the intricacies associated with the faith, but because they had firmness and conviction of belief. Such firmness which gave them the strength to put Allah above all else, even their own lives.

Today, we are so quick to give in. Our priorities are misplaced, we tend to bend over backwards for difficult bosses and clients, but are lax when it comes to doing our utmost for Allah. We make excuses – the job environment is tough, financial pressures are tough, society is hostile to Muslims – but this is actually our test of faith and conviction. If we know that Allah is watching, we should also know that Allah is with us if we are with Him. Compromises on this should be minimal, in fact they should not even exist.

We are afraid of losing our assets, or getting left behind, and play the politics of office and life to get ahead in the material world. Yet, look at the magicians. They had everything to lose, and from the perspective of the worldly life, they did in fact, lose everything. However, what awaited them in the eternal hereafter was much greater, better than this world and what it contains. They understood that.

Further, what of the audience? Instead of realising Pharaoh’s fallibility and taking heed from the magicians, they stood by passively in face of the truth. We have seen the power of the people, if they could pool together to reach critical mass, they can topple governments. Yet, the community did nothing.

In every time and place, there is Pharaoh, the oppressor, the tyrant and the corrupt. And in every time and place, there is Musa AS, the embodiment of good and justice. Which one are we, and which one do we choose to ally ourselves with

Prophet Musa (AS) – Part I

THE PROPHECY

If we were to apply human laws, Musa AS should not have existed. Set against its historical context, his story should have ended before it began. Yet, in the face of the impossible, he did exist, and he grew up to be one of the Ulul Azm, the mightiest five Messengers and Prophets, simply because Allah ordained it so.

His life account is widely reported in the Qur’an and is contained in almost fifty chapters, mainly in Surat Ta Ha, Al Qasas, Fussilat and Al A’raf. His life is an example of divine destiny, defying all the odds, and illustrating how the plot, plan and grand design of Allah SWT are beyond any human challenge or resistance. The account of his life will show us the triumph of faith in God over all adversities. We should take inspiration from all its twists and turns, because nothing of the tribulations in our lives will ever match his life story.

Let us first understand the background of the society that Musa AS was sent down to. By ancestry, Musa AS was the son of Imran bin Qahath, who was in turn one of the direct descendants of Yaqub AS, himself the grandson of Ibrahim AS. Yaqub AS was also known as Israel, and from the story of Yusuf AS, we are informed that Yaqub AS had twelve sons, who, together with their descendants, would be referred to in history as Bani Israel or the sons of Yaqub AS.

Before his death Yaqub AS asked his sons whom they would worship after he died. His sons affirmed their belief in the Oneness of the Creator, and vowed that they were Muslims and would worship the Lord of Ibrahim AS.

When Bani Israel stayed in Egypt, they used to study the scriptures, and one of these prophesised that one of the sons of Bani Israel will cause the downfall of the Egyptian kingdom. In parallel, we should also recall that generations previously, when Ibrahim AS and his wife Sara travelled through Egypt, the king of Egypt at that time attempted to violate Sara. However, a result of her piety, Allah not only protected her from harm, but also ordained that one of her progeny be the cause of the destruction of the Egyptian empire.

As time elapsed, this prophecy of Bani Israel became subsumed in legend, passing down from one generation to the next.

Over the years, Firaun or Pharaoh came into being and ruled Egypt. He was one of the mightiest rulers in history, and his civilisation was so technologically advanced that that we are still unable to understand or even replicate much of it today. However, he was also the most tyrannical and oppressive leader in history. Power made him exceedingly arrogant, and he expressed himself to be the lord of creation. He, together with his ministers, Qarun and Haman, ruled the land with an iron fist.

The prophecy of Bani Israel inevitably reached Pharaoh’s ears through his council of advisors. Pharaoh was greatly disconcerted by these predictions, and as a precaution, ordered that all the pregnant women of Bani Israel be strictly observed and monitored. No woman delivered a baby boy without the wide network of the Pharaoh’s army knowing about it, and these newborns were immediately annihilated in a cold blooded and systematic infanticide. As for the rest of Bani Israel, the women were spared, but the whole population was brutally exploited, forced to live the life of subservience, being permitted to take up only the lowest professions and most menial tasks.

Allah mentions in Surah Al Qasas that: Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters. (Qur’an 28:2)

The routine killings of the male population proved to be unsustainable, and before long, it adversely impacted the economic and social structure of Egypt. There was a shortage of manpower and the rest of the Egyptian society refused to perform the lowly tasks which were customarily assigned to the men of Bani Israel. Hence, at the advice of his ministers, Pharaoh ordered what he thought was a feasible solution – that the newborn males of Bani Israel were only to be slaughtered on alternate years, to facilitate a controlled increase in the population of the male workforce.

THE PIOUS MOTHER

During one of the years of pardon in which boys were permitted to live, Harun AS, the older brother of Musa AS was born. However, Musa AS was born on the year that the male infants were to be killed. Therefore, according to all the law of the land, Musa AS should have been killed. However, Musa’s AS life demonstrates the journey of faith in Allah, and the power of predestination above all human planning.

It is said that the signs of pregnancy did not even show on Musa’s AS mother when she carried him. Hence, with all the soldiers on the lookout for pregnant women, she went completely unnoticed. The birth was discreet, but when he was born, she knew that if he was discovered, death was unavoidable. The situation was precarious – the smallest sound of the crying infant would bring the soldiers upon them and they would kill Musa AS before her very eyes. How was a mother, still tender from the strain of childbirth, and already under months of severe emotional pressure of the concealed pregnancy, to endure the horror?

Let us see what Allah revealed in her heart, through a divine inspiration (which is not to be confused with revelation – the latter is only reserved for Prophets and Messengers). Surah Al Qasas says that:

“And We inspired to the mother of Musa, ‘Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him [one] of the messengers.’” (Qur’an 28:7)

In these short sentences, came instructions, commands, reassurance, comfort, advice and glad tidings.

Now try to visualise yourself in the mother’s shoes. She feared for his life, and the improbable solution to hurl him into the river would have run against any maternal instincts. What were the odds of his survival in its swirling waters? How can a river, which only flows in one direction, bring him back to her? How could she not feel ripped apart by the hopelessness of the situation?

Yet, what viable alternative did she have but to obey Allah’s commandment if she wanted her son to live?

THE ADOPTION

With a heart steadfast and full of trust in Allah’s promise, she suckled him and then placed Musa AS into a basket. As instructed, she then flung him into the swift currents of the Nile, but she asked her daughter, his older sister, to secretly keep track of his whereabouts.

Here, it is to be noted, that a river, like all creations of Allah, is a slave of Allah. Not a drop of its rushing waters could move without Allah willing it so. By Allah’s command, the currents navigated the baby to safety, and lodged the basket and its precious content by the riverbank. Again, Allah’s plan was in motion, and the basket was dispatched to the most unlikely place – by the palace of Pharaoh!

And the family of Pharaoh picked him up [out of the river] so that he would become to them an enemy and a [cause of] grief. Indeed, Pharaoh and Haman and their soldiers were deliberate sinners. (Qur’an 28:8)

By some reports, the basket was spotted by Asiah AS, the wife of Pharaoh, and by others, the basket was discovered by the slaves close to the river bank, who, having no authority to open the basket, presented it to their queen. The moment Asiah AS laid eyes on the baby, Allah placed in her heart a love of this little boy, a kind of love of goodness that can only originate from Allah. At the same time, Pharaoh was approaching and commanded that the baby be killed, but his queen persuaded him otherwise.

And the wife of Pharaoh said, “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not. (Qur’an 28:9)

She was correct, the presence of the baby altered the course of her life. Years later, she would come to embrace Islam, and through this baby that she had rescued, she would be led to her palace in Paradise.

Hence the biggest irony: the tyrant king who had heartlessly commanded for all newborn boys to be murdered, was unwittingly the one who would raise the very person whose existence he tried to prevent. Thus adopted, Musa grew up under the wing of Pharaoh and lived in the comfort of his palace until he reached adulthood. As stated in the Qur’an, they were to be mutual enemies, but until then, it was written by Allah that Pharaoh was to take care of Musa AS.

REUNITED AT LAST

Meanwhile, the heart of Musa’s AS mother was void but for the thoughts of him; she was distressed and worried about his fate. She would have reached breaking point and blurted the secret of his identity had Allah not placed steadfastness and faith in her heart.

Allah in His infinite wisdom prevented Musa AS from suckling all the wet nurses presented to him at the palace. He refused to eat or drink, and eventually, the situation became critical. They sent the hungry baby, under the care of a group of midwives and other women, to the market in order to seek someone who could be hired to feed him. His sister, without revealing her true identity, offered to introduce them to a woman who could breastfeed him. She led the entourage to her house, and once reunited with his birth mother, Musa AS immediately started suckling, much to everyone’s relief.

A messenger was sent to Asiah AS to relay the happy news. Not knowing the true identity of Musa’s AS mother, she offered for her to live in her palace in order to continue suckling the child, but Musa’s AS mother declined, explaining that she had a husband, children and other obligations at home to attend to. So, a deal was struck, where they mutually agreed for Musa AS to be dropped off at her home every day to suckle, and moreover, that she was to be given a grant to cover all her expenses. Again, what a strange turn of events, that the Pharaoh who had set out to kill him ended up paying for his upkeep and that of his family!

As Allah had promised: So We restored him to his mother that she might be content and not grieve and that she would know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of the people do not know. (Qur’an 28:13)

The very circumstances of Musa’s AS birth is the epitome of the journey of faith in Allah. It shows that if one relies and has faith in Allah, Allah can take any situation and make it work in his favour. The wisdom of Allah is above our limited wisdom. For example, to us a river denotes drowning and peril, while in the case of Musa AS, it became a passage of transportation to lead him peacefully to safety.

This is what we have to learn, that the only owner of destiny is Allah. The calamities that occur in life are designed to test our faith, on whether we believe in the condition, or whether our faith lies in the Owner of the condition. If we overlook the mirage of the condition, the Owner of the condition will take care of us, for all situations were created and generated by Him. This is why when we are met with calamities, one of our responses should be “innalillahi inna ilaihi rajiun” – loosely meaning, from Allah we come and to Allah we will return. However, we cannot dwell on our calamities, and instead, we should place our complete faith and trust in Allah SWT.

The story of Musa AS reinforces a major point about qadr, fate or destiny. It shows us the wisdom of Allah, and that what He has written will never be changed. Such stories are to be listened to by the heart, not just with the eyes and mental faculties. The story teaches us to recognise that the plan of Allah is above all else. The very life of Musa AS is in itself the journey of faith, and we shall see from beginning to end, is a journey against all rules and conventions. The underlying message is simple, all we need to get by in life is to have faith in Allah.

THE KILLING AND THE ESCAPE

Musa AS stayed in the palace of the Pharaoh until “he reached his full age and was firmly established” (Qur’an 28:14), which according to many scholars, meant that he stayed there until he was approximately forty years old.

One afternoon, he was walking in the city when he witnessed a fight between a man from his own people, and another from his enemy, an Egyptian Copt. The man from Bani Israel pleaded for Musa AS to help, and the latter responded by striking the Egyptian Copt with his fist. However, this blow was so forceful that the man died, such was Musa’s AS strength. This death blow was unintentional, and Musa AS prayed “O My Lord! I have wronged myself, so please forgive me.” (Qur’an 28:16) Allah forgave him. He said, “My Lord, for the favour You bestowed upon me, I will never be an assistant to the criminals.” (Qur’an 28:17)

He feared exposure for his crime and was walking in the city when suddenly he saw that the man who sought his help the previous day was in a fight with another Egyptian man. He cried out to Musa AS again for help. Musa AS said to him, “Indeed, you are an evident, [persistent] deviator.” He was about to hit the Egyptian when the man said: “O Musa, do you intend to kill me as you killed someone yesterday? You only want to be a tyrant in the land and do not want to be of the amenders.” (Qur’an 28:19)

This stinging statement made Musa AS stop in his tracks. It was evident that the news of his alleged crime had spread throughout town. According to the Qur’an: “And a man came from the farthest end of the city, running. He said, ‘O Musa, indeed the eminent ones are conferring over you [intending] to kill you, so leave [the city]; indeed, I am to you of the sincere advisors.’” (Qur’an 28:20)

This messenger provided the dreaded confirmation that the news had reached Pharaoh, and an army of Pharaoh’s police had already been deployed to capture Musa AS.

With Pharaoh’s net closing in around him, Musa’s AS only option was to leave the city. Thus his stay at the palace came to an abrupt end. So he left it, fearful and anticipating [apprehension]. He said,“My Lord, save me from the wrongdoing people.” (Qur’an 28:21) With just the clothes on his back, he fled and headed to Madyan, where he stayed in exile for over a decade.

Sex before marriage?

The dignity of human beings and especially the dignity of women is something that is utterly valued and highly sanctified in Islam.

A woman’s womb in Arabic ‘rahm’ is extracted from the name of Allah Himself ‘ArRahman’ (The Most Merciful). This is a sign of elevation and closeness the woman has with The Creator Himself, The King of kings, the Giver of Life. Allah chose women to be the carriers of life into existence and this is an honorable position.

Wherever she is, the woman must be taken care of, protected and honored. If she is in her dad’s house, then raising her and spending on her is an act of worship for him that he’ll be rewarded for by Allah. If she is in her husband’s house, then spending on her and treating her kindly and gently are acts of worship for him that he’ll be rewarded for by Allah. This is all in the most authentic narrations of this religion.

When Islam came, it empowered women with rights and dignity, something that was abused in their time. And that’s not in pre-Islam time only … it seems to be in our time today as well!

One manifestation of this is the idea of girlfriends/boyfriends and having premarital relations.

Some think that this is liberating for women, and they blame Islam/Muslims for being uptight or oppressive.

But let’s think about this together.

Honestly and objectively, which is a more dignified scenario:

That a woman gives her body, emotions, time and care freely to someone who can enjoy all that and leave her whenever he wants without owing her anything or committing to her in anyway or giving her any rights…

Or

That a woman’s body, feelings and needs are sanctified and guarded by The Creator Himself; if someone wishes to enjoy her, then he has to testify before Allah and witnesses and provide a contract stating that he will be responsible for providing her with her financial needs, emotional needs, physical needs and legal rights. And if any harm or injustice is inflicted on her by him, then he will be held accountable for it before The Creator on The Day of Judgment…

Which scenario better dignifies and protects women?

Is the first scenario really liberating, or is it humiliating and degrading to the woman’s body, feelings, needs and rights?

Is the second scenario really old fashioned and oppressive, or is it dignifying and elevating?

If you contemplate this issue with open mind and heart, you’ll realize that Allah doesn’t want for the woman to be abused, sexualized or made easily available, cheap or accessible to men to use as they please. And Allah doesn’t want for the man to be a slave of his desires and commit injustices against himself or others on account of his lusts and physical urges.

That’s not real love and that’s not honorable or elevating type of relationships for human beings.

Allah says:

“And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.” (Qur’an 17: 70)

Allah specifically honored us above other creations.

But the first scenario for many people seem easier… Fulfilling physical needs is easy; any creature can do that — even those who are below us in rank and are not gifted with intellect or ability to purify and discipline their beings and desires.

It’s easy to submit to the basic physical needs. But what Allah and Islam are calling us for is to elevate above the physical and explore meanings that are much deeper, richer and more everlasting than that.

Marriage in Islam is more than fulfilment of physical urges. It is peace, mercy and tranquillity to the heart, mind and soul. It is meant to be a journey of intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical growth and elevation.

It is considered an act of worship! It follows the path that the Creator has revealed to His Messengers to teach humanity.

It is a completion of one’s faith.

Faith in marriage is a language and a deep bond between the couple. Those who are connected through their love for their Creator, their gratitude towards Him, their desire for His Closeness, their pursuit of His Knowledge….. All of this creates a major common ground brought into the relationship between the partners. It’s like they bring an eternal bond that connects them with their Eternal Creator, and they hope and pray to remain connected for eternity in the afterlife.

This is what’s meant to go on between believing partners. When we pray for partners, we ask for someone who could help us get closer to our Creator, help us learn more about Him, fall more in love with Him and be persistent on our journey towards Him.

The bond between spouses is beautifully described in the Qur’an by Allah who says about spouses:

“[…] They are your garment and you are their garment”, “ […] They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them” (Qur’an 2: 187). Meaning they’re so close to you, they cover you, they fulfill your every need and you fulfill them…

Even more significantly, marriage is described in the Qur’an as a sign of the Creator:

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought” (Qur’an 30: 21)

A sign leads to a destination. He said that this relationship is one of His signs. This is because when we experience mercy, we get reminded that Allah’s Name/Attribute is The Most Merciful, The Source of Mercy… any mercy we experience is a fraction of His Infinite Mercy. This helps us long for Him. When we experience deep affection (or wud in Arabic), we remember that His Name is Al Wadud, The Source of Ultimate Pure Affection. When we love our partners, we also fall deeply in love and gratitude to The One Who created them. A husband and wife smiling at each other is an act of worship that is rewarded by Him. There are so many experiences we go through and they are a reflection of His Presence, His Names and His Gifts…

But when we devoid man and woman’s relationship of those everlasting meanings and lower it to fulfillment of temporary physical needs and infatuations…are we really doing ourselves any justice?

There is a notion among some people that premarital relations are necessary so that the couples get to ‘know and test’ one another. But this is really a delusion and it is degrading and humiliating. There is no way one will know what will happen in the future, no matter how long they ‘test drive’ their partners. Only Allah The Knower of the future and the unseen know that. And if couples are united for His Sake and with His Guidance, then He will be The One who descends peace, mercy, love and tranquility upon them– at the end, He is The Owner of Peace, Love and Mercy.

The idea of “let me try her/him first and if I didn’t feel that he/she is perfect enough for me or I don’t feel like I want to continue in this relationship, then I’ll easily ditch him/her. No worries. No strings attached,” this – if anything- is selfishness and lack of responsibility.

We are not going to have ‘perfect’ partners. But we choose people based on values of true faith, righteousness, responsibility, good reputation and initial attraction… and then we commit and ask the Creator to bless and ease and aid both partners on their path and place between them His eternal bond, His mercy, affection and tranquility.

Al Hassan Al Basri, one of the most renowned theologians and scholars of Islam, said: “marry your daughter to one with sound religion (knowledge of Allah and the deen), so if he loved her, he’ll honor her and if he ever disliked her, he will not commit injustice against her.”

These are the basis upon which we choose partners.

Long term premarital relationships did not and will not prevent divorces or disagreements. This is a delusion.

Most importantly, married partners are meant to learn deep meanings of patience, humility, selflessness and commitment. Premarital relations are simply an easy way out. It’s no longer about “for sickness and for health, for better and for worse”, but rather “for my own benefit, my own satisfaction and if I don’t like it, I’m out.”

Who is really the winner in this situation?

Women? Not at all.
Men? Maybe at first, but if they remain on this path, they’ll end up being alone or die alone and miss an opportunity of learning what makes them true noble men who commit, not neglect or abandon.

Again, in Islam, relationships outside of marriage are not allowed given how unfair they are especially to the woman, even if she doesn’t recognize that. It is part of a woman’s honor and right to have a marriage contract. This is a testimony from the man in front Allah and witnesses that this man will be responsible for taking care of her emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual and financial needs. This is a commitment because the woman is highly precious and submitting herself, her emotions, time, thinking and physical being to someone who doesn’t owe her anything and can leave her at any point… THIS is not fair or befitting of women, and women are really meant to be much more honored than that.

How many sisters in humanity are left alone struggling to support children whose fathers have left off without committing to supporting them or covering their needs?

The deprivation of rights and deprivation of full attention and commitment is not fair or just to human beings. Those innocent children deserve to have a healthy household with committed parents who acknowledge them fully and commit to their upbringing and growth on all levels.

On the other hand- and if bringing up children is not the point of the relationship- then isn’t it injustice for the woman to make her body a dump for strange men’s physical urges? How is this dignifying or liberating to her?

What about children that result from the intimate bond between a man and a woman…. is it justice for them to be created/raised in secrecy, or get dumped and aborted eventually as though their existence is a mistake and glory was meant to the temporary physical lusts not the precious dignified human life?

Ask your heart if this is what’s really honorable and dignifying for human beings.

What happens with the blessing of Allah, The Light of the Heavens and The Earth, will surely have His light. What happens without the blessings of The Source of Light, will only be a means of darkness to the heart, mind and soul.. even if it was initially pleasurable, but it will never be truly and durably a fulfilling source of peace, mercy and Tranquility.

Never settle for darkness. Always seek The Light…

Dua’a for our dear Parents

1. Tonight let’s make a special dua for parents. Some of us take our parents for granted, thinking they will always be here to love and comfort us but one day they won’t be here. So treasure your time with them. Look after them like they looked after you. We could have been neglected when we were small but we were all loved and blessed. So let’s make a dua that Allah blesses all parents, past and present with Jannah. May Allah grant us the patience to deal patiently with them in their old age as they dealt patiently with us when we were small and young. May Allah always bless them and reward them for loving and protecting us. No-one is perfect. But we owe our parents A GREAT DEAL. May Allah grant them Jannah. Ameen.

2. Let’s start this weekend with a special dua. A special prayer for our parents. Past and Present. Wherever they are, whatever they are doing may Allah keep all our parents so safe and away from harm. As children, we owe our parents so much. I don’t think I could do for my kids, what our parents did for us. I hope Allah grants them Jannah. Ameen

3. Asalaam Alaykum. Tonight let’s make a dua for our special amazing & wonderful parents. They raised us with such love & commitment. I hope we are showing them the same love and commitment today. When we were young they walked slowly so we could keep up, in their old age let’s not walk too fast so they can’t keep up. May Allah grant my parents and your parents, past and present the highest level of Jannah. Ameen

4. Asalaam Alaykum. So who shall we do a dua for today? How about fathers? Fathers aren’t perfect but neither are we. One thing is for sure our fathers have loved & protected us when we were young & helpless. They did more for us than we can possibly imagine. May Allah protect my wonderful father & may Allah protect your father too. Tonight HOTD remembers fathers. May Allah bless them all with Jannah. Ameen!!

5. Tonight let’s make a dua for our parents. Past or Present. May Allah grant us the patience to deal patiently with them in their old age as they dealt patiently with us when we were small and young. May Allah always bless them and reward them for loving and protecting us. No-one is perfect. But we owe our parents A GREAT DEAL. May Allah grant them Jannah. Ameen

6. Today let’s make a special dua for our mothers. For our gorgeous amazing loving mothers. Who do so much for us. Who have sacrificed so much for us. Who put up so much from us! Do we ever tell them how special they are? Maybe we should. Today HOTD is praying all mothers (and fathers) receive Allah’s blessing and that as children, we all appreciate them every… single…. day….Ameen!

7. Today let´s make a special dua for our parents. May Allah keep our parents away from harm. May Allah give us the patience to deal with them in their old age as they dealt with us in our young age. When we were small and couldn´t walk fast our parents slowed their walking down to suit us, are we slowing our walking now to suit them as they are old. May we never forget how much they have done for us. Ameen

8. Tonight let’s make a dua for someone really special. I mean, really REALLY special. Our wonderful Mother. Whether past or present, may Allah bless our amazing mothers with Jannah. May Allah give us the intelligence & Imaan to really look after them. Tonight Hadith of the Day pays tribute to all mothers and prays Allah grant them Jannah. Ameen!

9. We all love our parents. I make a dua this evening that all our parents, past and present enter Jannah safely. Ameen.

10. Today let’s make a special dua for our mothers, Past or Present. May Allah bless them with Jannah. May we never forget how much our mothers have done for us when we were small & helpless. Are we showing them the same support & love? Today I make a dua that Allah keeps all mothers safe. Ameen!

11. Tonight let’s make a special dua for our Mothers. Not only have they loved & protected us all our lives, but they’ve kept us safe. When was the last time we all sat our mothers down & said ‘I love and appreciate you’ Just imagine how happy that would make our mothers. So may Allah bless all our mothers, past and present with Jannah because no-one deserves it more than they do.

Ameen

Women in Islam: Aisha Bint Aby Bakr RA

Aisha Bint Aby Bakr RA

Umm-Al-Mu’minin (Mother of Believers)

Note: For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with her (RA)” each time Aisha’s RA name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.

Narrated Amr bin Al-As: I came to the Prophet SAW and said, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, “Aisha.” I asked, “Among the men?” He said, “Her father.” I said, “Who then?” He said, “Then Umar bin Al-Khattab.” He then named other men [Bukhari].

Who is Aisha ibn Abu Bakr?

Out of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, two have received prominence above the others. The first was Khadija, and the second was Aisha. Aisha was the favourite daughter of one of the Prophet’s favourite companions, Abu Bakr, and was the most beloved wife of the Prophet SAW after Khadijah.

Sawdah, the Prophet’s SAW second wife, and Aisha entered the life of the Prophet’s SAW household after the death of Khadijah. If we recall, the Messenger of Allah SAW never had another wife for over two decades during the time he was married to Khadijah. He was deeply grieved by her death, and it is acknowledged that he still felt sorrow at her passing years later.

Those around the Prophet SAW understood the sadness that he faced, not just for the loss of his lifetime companion, but also for the other turbulent events that happened in what we now call the Year of Sadness. While many were concerned and offered their support in their own individual ways, Khawlah bint Hakeem was the one who took the initiative and broached the subject of marriage with the Prophet SAW. Khawlah was the wife of `Uthmaan ibn Math`oon, both of them being among the first persons to embrace Islam. It was Khawlah who originally suggested that Abu Bakr should offer his daughter Aisha for marriage to the Prophet SAW. For the sake of completeness, it is worth mentioning that it was also Khawlah who initiated the marriage of Sawdah to the Prophet SAW, however we shall not be covering this aspect in this article.

The suggestion to marry Aisha, while well received, proved to be diplomatically delicate for Abu Bakr, for the six year old Aisha was already engaged to a non Muslim, Jubayr ibn Mut’im. It would have been socially unacceptable for Abu Bakr to have broken the engagement. However, with the will of Allah, the engagement was repudiated by the potential groom’s family on account of their disbelief in Islam, enabling Aisha to be engaged to the Prophet SAW.

Allegations against the marriage

We pause at this juncture to deal with a sensitive topic, which is the age of Aisha during marriage. Of late, this has created unnecessary controversy. However, if we look at the historical accounts of the social structure of the time, Aisha was already engaged to another man prior to her marriage to the Prophet SAW, indicating that it was socially acceptable for marital alliances between families to be forged at an early age. Also women during that time reached maturity relatively quickly – psychologically, emotionally and physically – due to their upbringing and surroundings. In the case of Aisha, she attained intellectual, physical and emotional maturity exceptionally fast compared to her peers.

If we look at the various claims made against the Prophet SAW during his lifetime and after – he was called a madman, a liar, a magician, possessed by the devil – yet not one of these claims, even by his own worst enemies, touched upon his marriage to Aisha. Had the marriage been controversial, his enemies would have scandalized and sensationalized the event. Yet no claims of this sort were raised for hundreds and hundreds of years, whether by the pagan Arabs, the Romans, or any of the subsequent societies, until very recently.

If allegations were made against the Prophet SAW in respect of abuse or impropriety during the marriage, then one would expect all these claims to surface after his death, when Aisha was free to speak without fear of repercussion from the Prophet SAW. Yet, even after his death, there is not a single recorded account of any complaint or statement about their marriage, save that the Prophet SAW was the best of husbands and that the marriage was an extremely happy and harmonious one. In today’s society, very few, if any, women would describe their husbands in such unequivocal terms. Aisha was nineteen when the Prophet SAW passed away, and until her own death over forty five years later, she spoke of him lovingly. The aspersion cast upon the marriage by the modern media is totally unsubstantiated, as there is not a single recorded statement to support any of these those claims.

Life after Marriage

Although the engagement took place while Aisha was six or seven, they were only married around three years later, shortly after she migrated to Medina, by which time she had reached puberty. She moved into the household of the Prophet SAW. It was not luxurious by any means, the room was barely six feet wide, built beside the mosque out of clay and palm trees. The ceiling was so low that a person standing upright could touch the roof. The room was sparsely furnished with a mattress of palm leaves which lay on a mat. It was not a room of worldly wealth, but it was rich in spiritual treasures.

The Messenger of Allah SAW later told Aisha, “You have been shown to me in (my) dreams on three nights. An angel was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, `This is your wife.’ And when I uncovered it; behold, it was you. I then said: `If this dream is from Allah, He will cause it to come true.’” [Bukhari and Muslim].

Aisha said “I have been given nine (virtues) that were not given to any woman after Maryam bint Imran (the mother of Nabi Isa AS): Jibril AS descended with my picture in his sleep until Allah’s Messenger SAW was commanded to marry me; he had married me when I was a virgin and he never married any virgin besides me; his soul was taken while his head was on my lap and he was buried in my house. The angels had surrounded my house, I am the daughter of his Khalifah and his Siddiq; my excuse was revealed from the heaven. I was created pure. I have been promised forgiveness (of sins) and noble provision.”

Thus, this was a marriage between two exceptional people – the last of the Prophets who was nearing the end of his life, and a woman still at the beginning of hers. Aisha was a very intelligent and observant young girl with an extremely sharp memory. Due to her proximity with the Prophet Muhammad SAW, she was able to recount and educate the ummah on intimate details regarding marital relationships, personal grooming, medical prescriptions and behaviour within the household.

Aisha spent approximately nine or ten years of her life with the Prophet SAW. Her greatest asset was not her youth or beauty, but her piety, extraordinary generosity, ability to record the sayings and behaviour of the Prophet SAW, her accurate memory, and her intimate knowledge of the Qur’an. She absorbed knowledge like a sponge and this ability made her the educator and transmitter of the sacred knowledge to men and woman. A great deal of the knowledge that we still have today, about how our beloved Prophet SAW lived and behaved, was first remembered and then taught to others by Aisha.

Aisha became so wise that one of her contemporaries used to say that if the knowledge of Aisha was placed on one side of the scales and that of all other women on the other, Aisha’s side would outweigh the other. She used to sit with the other women and transmit the knowledge that she had received from the Prophet SAW long after he had died. As long as she lived, she was a source of knowledge and wisdom for both women and men. Abu Musa once said, “Whenever a report appeared doubtful to us, the Companions of the Prophet SAW, and we asked Aisha about it, we always learned something from her about it.”

As the prophetic guidance continued to be revealed through Prophet Muhammad SAW during the years of their marriage, Aisha’s way of life – along with that of all the Muslims – was gradually reshaped and refined. It was during this time that Islamic jurisprudence was established and when the rites of worship in Islam were finalised and clarified. In other words, it was during their marriage that the teachings of the religion of Islam were perfected.

Aisha was once asked to describe the Prophet SAW, and she replied that he was ‘the Qur’an walking’, meaning that his behaviour was the Qur’an translated into action. She did all that she could to do likewise. Thus she not only knew and embodied the Sunnah, but also she memorized the Qur’an by heart, understood it and lived it. Such knowledge was eventually compiled in various Islamic literature, providing an encyclopaedia for generations to come, supporting the Muslims and even the Caliphs of the later generations.

It was during the course of their marriage that, amongst others, the battles of Badr, and Uhud, and Al-Khandaq (the Ditch) were fought. These were the three major battles against the Quraish, that shifted the balance of power out of the hands of the disbelievers and into the hands of the Muslims. Although she was still very young, Aisha participated in them all, bringing water for the Muslims warriors, and helping to look after the wounded. She witnessed life, and she witnessed death – both in the way of Allah and in the way of the disbelievers – and she understood both. Indeed one of the meanings of her name, Aisha, is ‘life’.

Aisha’s knowledge was like a beacon that illuminated the hearts and minds of Muslims for generations to come. This is not surprising, for she is one of the four people who have transmitted more than two thousand hadiths, the others being Abu Huraira, Abdullah ibn Umar, and Anas ibn Malik RA. Al-Haakim said in his book, Al-Mustadrak. “One fourth of the rule of Sharee`ah was narrated on the authority of Aisha.” Umar Ibn Al Khattab, during his own Caliphate said that without Aisha, he would be lost and destroyed, in every small and big issue, he used to ask her for advice and consultation. How many Muslim men today seek consultation from a woman if she has more piety and knowledge than them? How many Muslim men today respect their wives, spouses, or daughters or anyone in society for their knowledge and calibre, regardless of their gender? How many Muslim women today are authorities on religious knowledge and texts?

The Fitnah

If there was a dark cloud in Aisha’s life, it was when the hypocrites conspired against her and made accusations regarding her honour and fidelity to the Prophet SAW. An accusation of adultery is a very serious charge, and this slander created a huge deal of strife and discord in the household. The details of her personal anguish and the events that transpired can be found in all reliable biographies of her life. Suffice to say, however, that Aisha remained steadfast in the belief that Allah would reveal the truth, and she was eventually acquitted, not though a trial of men, but by Allah Himself in the clearest terms, through the following revelation:

Surely those who fabricate the lie are a group from among you. Do not think it is bad thing for you; no it is good for you. Every man will receive what he has earned for this sin, and whoever had the greater part in it will have a great punishment. Why did the men and women believers, when they heard it, not think good in their selves and say: ‘This is clearly a lie?’ Why did they not produce four witnesses? Since they did not produce witnesses, they are certainly liars in the sight of Allah. If it were not for the grace of Allah, and His mercy on you in this world and in the next world, an awful doom would have overtaken you for what you repeated. Since you received it with your tongues, and repeated what you did not know anything about with your mouths, you thought it was a trifle, but in the sight of Allah it is serious. Why, when you heard it, did you not say: ‘It is not for us to repeat this, Glory be to You (O Allah), this is a serious rumour.’ Allah warns you to never repeat anything like this again, if you are indeed believers and Allah makes the signs clear to you; and Allah is Knowing, Wise. Surely those who love to spread around slander about those who believe will have a painful punishment in this world and in the next world; and Allah knows and you do not know. (Qur’an 24:11-19).

The fact that Aisha’s honour and reputation had been protected by a revelation from Allah could not be ignored by anyone, and from then on everyone was more aware of her high station with Allah.

Her Generosity and Simple Lifestyle

Aisha endured poverty and hunger with the Prophet SAW. It is authentically related that months went by without the fire in the hearth being lit, i.e. without any food being cooked, during which time they simply survived on dates and water.

Once the Prophet SAW stayed away from his wives for a month because they had distressed him by asking of him that which he did not have. This was after the Khaybar expedition when an increase of riches whetted the appetite for presents. Returning from his self-imposed retreat, he went first to Aisha’s apartment. She was delighted to see him but he said he had received revelation which required him to put two options before her. He then recited the verses:

O Prophet, say to your wives: ‘If you desire the life of this world and its adornments, then come, and I will make you content, and I will release you with a fair release. But if you desire Allah and His Messenger and the abode of the next world, then truly Allah has prepared an immense reward for those of you who do good.’ (Qur’an 33:28-29)

Her reply was: “Indeed I desire God and His Messenger and the abode of the Hereafter,” and her response was followed by all the other wives.

Once, when the Muslims were favoured with great wealth, she has given a gift of one hundred thousand Dirhams. She was fasting when she received the money, and distributed it to the poor and needy, even though she had no provisions in her house. Shortly after that, her maid servant said to her, “Couldn’t you have brought a dirham’s worth of meat with which to break your fast?” “If I had thought of it,” she replied, “I would have done so!”

She developed the nickname the Mother of Fragrance, for every time a beggar knocked on her door, she would touch the money with perfume before giving it to him. When asked why, she explained that the charity would reach Allah before it reached the beggar’s hands, and she wanted the charity to be given to Allah in a fragrant condition.

In another report, a needy person knocked on the door. She only had one grape, and gave it to him. When asked what the value of a single grape was as a charity, she quoted the following verses from the Qur’an:

“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (Qur’an 99:7 – 99:8)

She rationalised – how many atoms are there in a grape?

How many of us are of such a status, where our vigilance, thinking and even the smallest action is completely for the pleasing of Allah, and reflected by the Qur’an and teaching of the Prophet SAW.

The death of Muhammad SAW and after

While the Prophet SAW was fair in the treatment of his wives and loved all of them, Allah is the owner of the hearts, and the Prophet’s SAW heart was inclined towards loving Aisha the most.

There are many accounts which indicate that Aisha was the favourite wife of the Prophet SAW after Khadija. The Companions noticed this and reserved their presents to the Prophet SAW when it was his turn with her. Naturally this inspired some jealousy amongst the other wives, however, Aisha was gracious and never belittled them, nor did she view them as her rivals. The only wife that she was truly jealous of was Khadija, the Prophet SAW’s first wife, who had passed away before she was married to him.

Aisha said: “The Prophet’s SAW wives sent Fatimah, the Prophet’s SAW daughter to him. She asked permission to enter while he was lying down with me in my woollen blanket. He permitted her to enter and she said: `O’ Messenger of Allah, your wives sent me to you demanding for fairness concerning (your treatment of) the daughter of Ibn Abu Quhaafah (meaning Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr).’ And I was there (listening but) silent. The Messenger of Allah SAW told her, `O’ daughter, don’t you love whatever I love?’ She said: `Yes.’ He then said: `Then you should love this (lady).”‘

Hence, it was fitting that Allah chose for the Prophet SAW to breathe his last when in her house. Narrated Aisha: During his sickness, Allah’s Apostle SAW was asking repeatedly, “Where am I today? Where will I be tomorrow?” And I was waiting for the day of my turn (impatiently). Then, when my turn came, Allah took his soul away (in my lap) between my chest and arms and he was buried in my house. [Bukhari]

The room in which he died is the only room of his wives which is preserved up to today. Two years later, his Companion, Abu Bakr, Aisha’s father, was buried beside him. Later, as Umar Al Khattab was in his death throes, he appealed to Aisha to be buried next to Muhammad SAW. Aisha had actually reserved that space for herself, for she wished to be buried next to her husband. However, the love that the Prophet SAW bore for Umar caused her to honour Umar by sacrificing her beloved burial ground for him. Such was her generosity and nobility.

Her chaste nature was such that she used to say (before Umar was buried there): “It is only my husband and my father that are here.” But after Umar was buried there, she said: “I do not longer enter the room but with my garment fastened because I was shy (of being in the presence) of Umar.”

After the death of Prophet Muhammad SAW, Aisha was readily involved in continuing his messages. She was present through the reigns of at least the first four Caliphs. She continued commitment to the memory of her husband and her firm belief about being reunited with him in the Paradise.

In the month of Ramadhan in the year 58 A.H. Aisha had her fatal illness and she said in her will:

“Do not follow my bier with a fire nor lay a red velvet piece.”

She then surrendered her soul in the night of 17th of Ramadhan at the age of sixty six.

Aisha’s life after the death of the Prophet SAW is evidence against all the stereotypes of how Islam treats women, and accusations of how women in Islam have no status. We can read the detail of all the stories of Aisha and realise the wisdom of Allah and His Messenger, to have, for over forty years after the death of the Prophet SAW, the highest and most authentic level of knowledge from Aisha.

Look at the ultimate wisdom of Allah. Abu Bakr sacrificed his entire life in the path of Allah, and Allah granted him a beautiful gift which was to let his daughter be the most beloved wife of Rasulullah SAW after Khadija, and decorate his daughter Aisha with the charm, intelligence, integrity and memory, and make her the library of knowledge and source of wisdom for many generations to come. She carried the in depth legacy and knowledge of Rasulullah’s SAW memory. One cannot open Islamic books about the Qur’an, the biography of Muhammad SAW or jurisprudence, without finding Aisha’s name referenced in there. What a great honour for such a woman.

Aisha, Umm-Al-Mu’minin, even though she never had a single child, yet she is the Mother of Believers.

Source:

Ibn Kathir: Wives of the Prophet Muhammad SAW

Great Women of Islam – Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar

Women Around the Messenger – Muhammad Ali Qutub

Men and Women Around the Messenger – Sa’d Yusuf Abu Aziz

Great Women of Islam – Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar (translated by Jamilah Muhammad Qawi)