«and mention in the book, moses…»
(surah maryam, 19:51)
muhammad fasted ‘ashuraa to express pleasure at the delivery of his brother moses and his people from oppression.
therefore, the people of the book, the jews and christians, should not be offensive toward god,s prophet, muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him). for any person of fairness, refinement and nobility would be eager to show loyalty to a man who supported his father, honored him and recognized his status. would a person then not feel the same toward one who has presented with warmth and admiration to humanity the pioneers of his civilization and architects of his moral existence?
what is the source of moral existence for jews and christians? it is the old testament, which was revealed to moses, the son of ‘imran, or the new testament which was revealed to jesus, the son of mary. the light emanating from those books was conveyed to people and to human life by these two prophets. how, then, was the relationship between muhammad and those two great prophets, moses and jesus?
i have already demonstrated the firm, sublime, and close relationship between muhammad and christ. our prophet presented the best image of christ in a most beautiful, dutiful, and appealing way. this chapter will be devoted to the relationship between prophet muhammad, son of abdullah, and his brother in prophethood, moses, son of ‘imran.
following the example of their prophet (blessings and
peace be upon him), many muslims fast on the tenth day of the month of muharram in the jijri calendar. the origin of this tradition is that prophet muhammad fasted on that day, following the example of moses and expressing his pleasure at the latter,s escape, along with his people, from oppression, persecution and torture. al-bukhari, muslim and others have narrated that god,s messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) arrived in madinah and found jews fasting on the day of ‘ashuraa. he said to them, «what is this day on which you are fasting?» they said, «this is a great day on which god saved moses and his people and caused pharaoh and his people to drown.» god,s messenger said, «we have more claim to moses than you do.» so he fasted that day and urged muslims to do the same.
the story of how moses and his people were freed from pharaoh,s persecution, injustice, and cruelty is a joyful story that was inspired to muhammad. it is part of the qur’an, read and recited by muslims one generation after another. as they read it they are thankful to god for the great favor he bestowed on moses and his people:
• «and we had inspired to moses, travel by night with my servants and strike for them a dry path through the sea; you will not fear being overtaken [by pharaoh] nor be afraid [of drowning]. so pharaoh pursued them with his soldiers, and there covered them from the sea that which covered them, and pharaoh led his people astray and did not guide [them]. o children of israel, we delivered you from your enemy, and we made an appointment with you at the right side of the mount, and we sent down to you manna and quails.» (surah ta ha, 20:77-80)
• «and [recall, o children of israel], when moses said to his people, remember the favor of god upon you when he saved you from the people of pharaoh, who were afflicting you with the worst torment and were slaughtering your [newborn] sons and keeping your females alive. and in that was a great trial from your lord.» (surah ibraheem, 14:6)
this is a celebration of the great victory at which the prophet of islam rejoiced, fasted on its anniversary and urged muslims to fast on it to express thanks to god.
the story of the escape is told in eloquent qur’anic style that conveys a true account of moses. it is an account that is also related in detail in the prophet,s sayings.
first: moses is described in the qur’an:
1. in general terms:«and mention in the book, moses. indeed, he was chosen, and he was a messenger and a prophet. and we called him from the side of the mount at [his] right and brought him near, confiding [to him]. and we gave him out of our mercy his brother aaron as a prophet.» (surah maryam, 19:51-53)
2. and in detail: «and we inspired to the mother of moses, 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. 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. and the wife of pharaoh said, [he will be] a comfort of the eye [i.e., pleasure] 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. and the heart of moses mother became empty [of all else]. she was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had we not bound fast her heart that she would be of the believers. and she said to his sister, follow him; so she watched him from a distance while they perceived not. and we had prevented from him [all] wet nurses before, so she said, shall i direct you to a household that will be responsible for him for you while they are to him [for his upbringing] sincere? so we restored him to his mother that she might be content and not grieve and that she would know that the promise of god is true. but most of them [i.e., the people] do not know. and when he attained his full strength and was [mentally] mature, we bestowed upon him judgement and knowledge. and thus do we reward the doers of good.» (surah al-qasas, 28:7-14)
«[god said], go to pharaoh. indeed, he has transgressed [i.e., tyrannized]. [moses] said, my lord, expand [i.e., relax] 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 appoint for me a minister [i.e., assistant] from my family – aaron, my brother. increase through him my strength and let him share my task that we may exalt you much and remember you much. indeed, you are of us ever seeing. [god] said, you have been granted your request, o moses.» (surah ta ha, 20:24-36)
detailed accounts also include the beautiful, scholarly presentation in the qur’an of the torah, the scripture revealed to moses:
«indeed, we sent down the torah, in which was guidance and light.» (surah al-ma’idah, 5:44)
«but how is it that they come to you for judgement while they have the torah, in which is the judgement of god?» (surah al-ma’idah, 5:43)
«and [recall] when we gave moses the scripture and criterion.» (surah al-baqarah, 2:53)
«then we gave moses the scripture, making complete [our favor] upon the one who did good [i.e., moses] and as a detailed explanation of all things and as guidance and mercy that perhaps in the meeting with their lord they would believe.» (surah al-an‘aam, 6:154)
second: prophet moses in the words of his brother, prophet muhammad:
a jew approached the prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and said, «muhammad, one of your companions struck me on the face.» the man was brought in, and the prophet said, «why did you strike his face?» he said, «o messenger of god, i passed by the jewish man and heard him say, by him who has selected moses over all human beings i said, and over muhammad? i was angered and struck him. the prophet said, do not prefer me over moses. people will lose consciousness on the day of resurrection and i will be the first to recover. i will see moses holding on to one of the throne,s legs. i will not be able to tell whether he had recovered before me or whether he was compensated for fainting on mount sinai»
the prophet presented a picture of his brother, moses, as being blessed with a great deal of modesty. he said, «moses was a very modest and discreet man.»
the prophet was physically harmed by some people, and remembered the character of his brother, moses. he said, «may god have mercy upon moses; he was exposed to greater harm than this, but he endured it.» so our prophet followed the example of his brother moses in enduring harm as he was commanded by god: «so from their guidance take an example.» (surah al-an‘aam, 6:90)
one day the prophet came out to meet his companions and told them, «nations were paraded before me, and i saw a horde so great that it concealed the horizon. it was said, this is moses with his people.»
finally, the prophet made a point of mentioning moses whenever there was an occasion to do so. during the farewell pilgrimage, the prophet passed by al-azraq valley, and asked, «what valley is this?» people said, «al-azraq valley.» he said, «i can almost see moses descending the mountain pass and raising his voice declaring to god that he is there at his service.»
this is the position of god,s prophet, moses, son of ‘imran, as he is presented in the qur,an and sunnah. it is a high position of reverence and dignity. hence, protecting moses from abuse is basis for protecting our prophet and all other prophets from it. moreover, to refrain from insulting moses and other prophets is one of the aspects, consequences and proofs of belief in god, who said in the qur,an: «o you who have believed, be not like those who abused moses; then god cleared him of what they said. and he, in the sight of god, was distinguished.» (surah al-ahzaab, 33:69)
thus, he is distinguished in god,s sight, which implies high rank, lofty position, and noble qualities. we know this from the qur’an, which was revealed to muhammad, and also from the words of prophet muhammad himself, who loved moses, followed his example, and constantly referred to and spoke well of him.
therefore, we know of no logical or moral reason that would make a normal person from among the people of the book dislike or dishonor god,s final prophet, muhammad. what reason could there possibly be for it? could it be muhammad,s belief in, love for, and devotion to god? could it be his concentrated effort to liberate man from servitude everything and everyone other than god? could it be his proclamation of the basic unity and dignity of the human race? could it be the wide scope of his religion, which was capable of encompassing belief in all the divine scriptures and the messengers preceding him? could it be his love of benefit for every human being, rather, for every living creature? he expressed this each morning by saying, «o god, whatever blessing i or any other of your creatures have this morning comes from you alone, who has no partner. so praise and gratitude are due to you.»
what could the reason possibly be? could it be because god sent him as a mercy to humanity? could it be because he led the world,s greatest and most enlightened awakening? could it be because he elevated the status of reason, education and knowledge? could it be because he opposed superstition, hypocrisy, and illusion? could it be because he struggled against oppression, tyranny, and injustice?
could it be because he declared that kindness to a thirsty dog was the means by which a prostitute had obtained forgiveness and salvation? or because he was gentle, kind, modest and unassuming? or because he was faithful to everyone that was good to him and endeavored to return the favor even if that person remained a polytheist until death? or because he strictly kept promises and honored agreements? or because he responded to an offense by forgiving and overlooking it? or because he loved purity, cleanliness and beauty, teaching that god is beautiful and loves beauty? or because he sought refuge in god from depression over property, family and children? or could it be because his character was comprised of comprehensive moral values, as is indicated by god ,s description of him:
«and indeed, you are of a great moral character.» (surah al-qalam, 68:4)
is there a normal human being who is offended by the blooming and scent of roses, the brightness and sublimity of perfection, the advent of light, the purity and profundity of knowledge, the rationality of thought, the dignity of conscience or the concurrence between a kind word and a kind act?