Part One – The strength of a Mother / Introduction
The story of Musa AS is the longest story of a nabi (messenger) in the Quran. It is mentioned in more than 30 surahs, over 129 times. One of the scholars said the Quran was almost going to be the story of Musa. There are many reasons for this.
The Ummah of Bani Israel is the last muslim Ummah before that of the prophet SAW.
The history of Bani Israel is extremely rich with experiences. It is an Ummah that has lived for a long time, lasted a while, been through a lot, committed many mistakes and there was a lot of misguidance and conflict in this nation and Allah SWT wants us to learn from them.
The nature of the conflict of Bani Israel is similar to the ummah of Muhammad SAW. Previous Ummahs followed a similar pattern to one another, however, Bani Israel followed a different pattern. They fought alongside their Nabi (Messenger). The disbelievers were punished at the hands of believers, by their own hands by the will of Allah SWT.
There are two halves of the story of Bani Israel. One half is Musa AS dealing with Firaun (Pharoah). The second half is Musa AS dealing with Bani Israel. Both halves contain important lessons. The story of Firaun is important to know because Firaun is the symbol of oppression and tyranny in the Quran, and we have suffered in this ummah from a reign of dictators and oppression for a very long time. Firaun could be called similar to Dajjal who will also be a king and reward his followers and oppress the righteous. Similarly there are many lessons to be learnt from the history of Bani Israel, as the faults within the nations of Bani Israel and the faults we as a nation are falling into are unfortunately very similar. We must bear in mind that whoever holds traits similar to what is being described in Bani Israel will face the same punishments as what they will face on the day of reckoning.
إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ عَلَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَجَعَلَ أَهْلَهَا شِيَعًا يَسْتَضْعِفُ طَائِفَةً مِّنْهُمْ يُذَبِّحُ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَيَسْتَحْيِي نِسَاءَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ
Verily, Fir’aun (Pharaoh) exalted himself in the land and made its people sects, weakening (oppressing) a group (i.e. Children of Israel) among them, killing their sons, and letting their females live. Verily, he was of the Mufsidun (i.e. those who commit great sins and crimes, oppressors, tyrants, etc.). – Surah Al Qasas (verse 4)
In this way Allah SWT has described the political situation of the time in the Quran. Firaun was the only figure of power in the lives of these people and had declared himself God, and forbade the worship of anyone but him. No one stood up to dispute his claim. There was no one strong enough to, as Firaun had divided the people he ruled into parties, and in doing so ensured the success of his rule. He made classes and tribes among the people of Egypt, of which Bani Israel were at the lowest level, as they were slaves and servants. Bani Israel were 60 000 people when they left Egypt with Musa AS. Their numbers were huge, but the division and opression left them powerless and unable to function as a unit, therefore unable to help themselves or even think about how to escape the tyranny they faced.
Then one day, as this story begins, Firaun saw a dream. This dream was interpreted by Firaun’s advisors to mean that there would be a child born among the children of Israel, Bani Israel, who would take away his kingdom. In response to this dream Fiarun ordered the death of all newborn males and took the women as slaves and servants. The extent of his power and the amount of control he had over the lives of people is obvious from this. If a modern day leader was to issue the mass killing of all baby boys within the country, there would be some form of resistance, and the action would be condemned and stated as a breach of human rights and called a crime against humanity itself. Yet history itself is witness that no one did anything to stop this murder of newborn, innocent baby boys from happening. Or if anyone did, they were utterly powerless and their attempts fruitless and unnoticeable.
Some of the Sahaba RA (the companions of the Prophet SAW) are quoted to have said that Firaun saw a dream in which light came from the holy land which swept through Egypt and destroyed everyone and everything in it’s path, except the houses of Bani Israel.
The matter seemed easy enough to deal with for Firaun. He ordered the death of all newborn males in Bani Israel and he would order all his spies to find out if there were any pregnant woman among Bani Israel and monitor her until she delivers. As soon as the baby was born, they would slaughter the sons, and let the daughters live.
The mother of Musa AS became pregnant but managed to conceal her pregnancy by the will of Allah. Only Allah SWT has the power to hide such things from the eyes of people. If Allah wishes to reveal something nothing can stop him and if he wishes to hide something, no one holds any power to find out. Another point that should be mentioned is that no matter how strong the security forces are, they are always going to miss something through human error. In this case they missed the fact that this woman was pregnant.
However, when Musa AS was born, it became harder for her to hide that fact. So Allah SWT inspired his mother, though not through wahi as was done on the messengers, but through a different type of inspiration called ilhaam saying,
وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ ۖ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِي وَلَا تَحْزَنِي ۖ إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
‘And We inspired the mother of Musa (Moses), (saying): “Suckle him [Musa (Moses)], but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve. Verily! We shall bring him back to you, and shall make him one of (Our) Messengers.”.’ – Surah al Qasas, verse 7
This has to be a strong inspiration because no mother would throw her child into a flowing river, especially not one as strong as the Nile.
To our limited minds, putting a baby, who is only a few days old, into a box, and throwing him into the river would mean throwing him to his death. However as this was an order from the Allah SWT this righteous mother was able to suppress her protective motherhood and care for the child and entrust her baby to Allah SWT, with such belief that Allah SWT will care for him and protect him more than she could.
This was a very big trial for the mother of Musa AS. She gave birth to a baby, she fed him, she put him in a wooden box, put the box in the Nile river and she, in front of her eyes, let this child go, just to fulfill this inspiration that he will be returned and he will be a messenger.
Allah SWT made a promise to her and she strove to fulfill her end of the deal. How many promises has Allah SWT made for us that we don’t fulfill?
We are told that if we struggle in the way of Allah we are promised victory. Yet we do not struggle in the way of Allah.
We are told that is we spend in the way of Allah, he will increase us in our wealth but we don’t do that.
We are told that is we have tawakkul (unshakable belief) in Allah, he will provide for us but we don’t do that.
We are have been promised that is we have Taqwa, (god consciousness) Allah SWT promises to provide for us from resources unimaginable. Yet we neglect to do so.
The mother of Musa (AS) did this even though it was going against the very nature Allah has placed in a mother. She was the mother of a child a few days old and yet she did it.
Hers is a perfect example of how Allah honors those who have faith upon him and how Allah SWT fulfills his promise to you above and beyond all expectations.
The Nile was, and still is in many ways, the life of Egypt. There are houses and settlements along the banks of the river. The wooden casket moves down the river, and out of all the places it could have stopped, it stops at the shores of the palace of Firaun. The mother of Musa threw him in the river to save him from Firaun and he ended up outside the palace of Firaun.
فَالْتَقَطَهُ آلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكُونَ لَهُمْ عَدُوًّا وَحَزَنًا ۗ إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَامَانَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا كَانُوا خَاطِئِينَ
Then the household of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) picked him up, that he might become for them an enemy and a (cause of) grief. Verily! Fir’aun (Pharaoh), Haman and their hosts were sinners. – Surah Al Qasas, ayaat 8
The servants of the household of Firaun picked him up and opened the box to find a baby. They took him, by the supreme planning of the almighty, not to Firaun but to Aasiya, the wife of Firaun, effectively the queen of Egypt, who fell in love with him. Allah SWT put the love of this baby in the heart of this righteous woman.
She went to Firaun and pleaded to keep the baby.
وَقَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ فِرْعَوْنَ قُرَّتُ عَيْنٍ لِّي وَلَكَ ۖ لَا تَقْتُلُوهُ عَسَىٰ أَن يَنفَعَنَا أَوْ نَتَّخِذَهُ وَلَدًا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ
And the wife of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceive not (the result of that). – Surah Al Qasas, verse 9
SubhanAllah the planning of the most wise. Allah SWT put an insider in the palace of Firaun to support and protect Musa (AS). The heart of Aasiya melted for this baby, and due to the will of Allah and after that Aasiya’s appeal to him, Firaun allowed her to keep the baby.
Meanwhile the heart of the mother of Musa (AS) was becoming sick with worry.
وَأَصْبَحَ فُؤَادُ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ فَارِغًا ۖ إِن كَادَتْ لَتُبْدِي بِهِ لَوْلَا أَن رَّبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قَلْبِهَا لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
‘And the heart of the mother of Musa (Moses) became empty [from every thought, except the thought of Musa (Moses)]. She was very near to disclose his (case, i.e. the child is her son), had We not strengthened her heart (with Faith), so that she might remain as one of the believers..’ – Surah Qasas verse 10
Had she revealed what had happened, Firaun would have wasted no time in committing this murder.
Yet Allah SWT filled that empty heart, which was devoid of all other feeling, with Iman. Nothing can fill an empty heart but Iman. You often see when people are devoid of all hope and grieved to the point where they can see no light in anything, that Allah fills the heart of people he chooses with his love and faith on his religion and dependance on no one but him, as was the case with the mother of Musa AS.
So she kept quiet, but sent the sister of Musa, who followed the casket along the shore, and saw where it was picked up.
Musa AS was brought before many women who could have breastfed him but he refused. Allah SWT did not allow Musa AS to drink from anyone but his own mother. The sister of Musa AS arrived and said she could give them a woman who would breastfeed the child. They took him to the mother of Musa (AS) and he began to feed.
The queen invited the mother of Musa (AS) to live in the palace and breastfeed him there. The mother of Musa (AS) refused, saying the queen will have to bring him to her. Now the mother of Musa (AS) gets to see him regularly and is in fact being paid to feed him. Had the baby remained with his mother, he most surely would have been killed. Now Musa AS comes with an escort of the guards from the palace of Firaun, the same guards which would have killed him when he was born, to his mother, and became a source of rizk for the family, as his mother is paid for breastfeeding the adopted prince, and his family are honored in the society too as they are important to the royal family.
This story is a perfect example of how a weakness became a strength by Allah’s will due to dependance on Allah. Our ummah is in a similar position. If we depend totally on Allah SWT he will provide for us from places we never thought possible.
People often claim that they are unable to follow the rules of Allah SWT and practice Islam properly because they are afraid of the consequences. For example, girls often cite the excuse for not wearing a hijab as fear of discrimination. I know a few people who have said how will I manage to get a job? Get married? Be taken seriously?
If they had in them the unwavering faith of the mother of Musa AS who did something that was impossible for her to do due to it being against the very nature of motherhood and indeed all common sense, just because she had been inspired by Allah and depended completely on him. Allah fulfilled his promise to her above and beyond her expectations, and she saw the same baby boy being guarded by the same guards who would not have wasted a moment in killing him, and helped to raise him herself.