Verses from Surah Taha (41-55)

[41] And I have prepared you for Myself.

[42] Go then, you and your brother, with My signs. And slacken not in My remembrance.38


38. It is said that here onward the verses were revealed to Musa in Egypt (Alusi and others). Thanwi adds: This verse is the basis of the opinion that for full profit of the efforts to spread knowledge, a teacher must engage himself in plenty of dhikr.

[43] Go to Fir`awn (the two of you), indeed he has rebelled.

[44] But say to him soft words,39  that he might be reminded, or perchance fear.’40


39. It is said that one of the latter day Khulafa’ was doing his Tawaf when a scholar reproached him harshly. The Khalifah protested, “Look! Neither I am worse than Fir`awn nor you better than Musa. Allah said, ‘But say to him, the two of you, soft words.’” That said, there is nothing wrong in acting tough with the proud (Au.).

40. Asad comments, “.. obviously (this) does not imply any ‘doubt’ on God’s part as to Pharaoh’s future reaction: it implies no more than His command to the bearer of His message to address the sinner with a view to the latter’s bethinking himself; in other words, it relates to the intention or hope with which the message-bearer should approach his task (Razi).”

[45] They said, ‘Our Lord. We are afraid lest he will over-react with us or he should transgress.’41


41. That is, they feared that Fir`awn might hasten his punishment on them even before they had finished relaying the message to him or before they show him their miracles (Alusi and others).

[46] ‘Fear not,’ He said, ‘I am with you indeed. I hear and I see.

[47] So go to him and say, “Verily, we two are the Messengers of your Lord. Send forth, therefore, the Children of Israel with us and persecute them not.42 We have indeed brought you a sign from your Lord. And peace upon him who followed the guidance. 43


42. The allusion is to the tough tasks and meanly works that were imposed on the Israelites. In addition, their new-born male children were slaughtered and women let live for labor.

43. Ibn Kathir points out that these were also the words that our Prophet used when he addressed kings and rulers. For example, the letter he wrote to Heraclius the Roman Emperor ran as follows:

“In the name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Compassionate.

From Muhammad the Messenger of Allah,

To Heraclius, the Emperor of Rome.

Peace be upon him who followed the guidance.

After that, I invite you by the word of Islam. Embrace Islam, you will be in peace and Allah will give you twice the reward.”

[48] Indeed, it has been revealed to us that chastisement shall be upon him who laid the lie and turned away.”’44


44. Several accounts in the Bible are similar to those in the Qur’an; but, only in sketchy terms. Otherwise, the two accounts are seas apart. However, that has been enough for honest professors and the erudite in the Western Universities and Research Centers, deeply sunk in their books since last five hundred years, to conclude, not hastily, but very deliberately, with mountains of evidential material, that the Prophet committed plagiarism.  Mawdudi answers to the absurd allegations. He writes, “The Qur’anic account of the incident should be read in conjunction with those accounts in the Bible and the Talmud. (Talmud is a sort of a commentary on the Old Testament which, in modern times of effulgence of information, no Jew, but the very specialist, has in possession; others having never seen it: Au.). This comparative study will clearly reveal the differences in the images of the Prophets as portrayed in the Qur’an and in the Jewish religious tradition. According to the Bible, God told Moses, ‘Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God: ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ (Exodus 3: 10-11). Subsequently, even though God tried at length to persuade Moses of the same, encouraged him, and endowed him with miracles, Moses still said: ‘Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person’ (Exodus 4: 13).

“The Talmudic account goes a step further. It states that the argument between God and Moses continued for seven days. God insisted on Moses accepting the prophetic mission whereas Moses declined to do so on the grounds of his speech impediment. Finally, God said that it was his will that Moses become a Prophet. To this Moses replied that God had sent angels to save Lot, had assigned five angels when Hagar left the house of Sarah, so why was He, then, asking him to leave Egypt along with His favorite children (the Israelites)? This so enraged God that He made Aaron (Harun: Au.) a party to Moses’ prophetic office, and denied priesthood to the house of Moses by transferring it to the descendants of Aaron. (See The Talmudic Selections, p. 142 ff. – Dr. Z. Is-haq).”

Thanwi points out that the manner of phrasing the words, “it has been revealed to us that chastisement shall be upon him who cried lies and turned away,” are the first application of the command in the earlier verse which instructed, “but speak to him in soft words.” It did not say, “chastisement shall be upon you.”

[49] He (Fir`awn) asked,45  ‘Who then is the Lord of you two, O Musa?’46


45. “Here the Qur’an omits certain details of the story: in particular, how Moses arrived at Pharaoh’s court and how he explained his teachings to him. These details are mentioned earlier in al-A`raf 7: 108; and can also be found in al-Shu`ara’ 26: 10-33; al-Qasas 28: 28-40 and al-Nazi`at 79: 15-36” (Mawdudi).

46. Mawdudi comments on Fir`awn’s true concerns: “The purpose of the question posed by Pharaoh was to emphasize the fact that since he was sovereign of Egypt and its people, Moses had no business setting up anyone other than him as their Lord.. We have already noted that Pharaoh’s claim to be the sovereign was grounded in his belief that he was the incarnation of the sun-god Ra.

“It has also been established historically that the national cult of the Egyptians consisted of the worship of many gods and goddesses. Hence, in point of fact, Pharaoh did not claim to be the ‘only object of worship’. He rather claimed, on a practical level, divine political lordship over the people of Egypt, and on a theoretical level, divine political lordship over all mankind.. What he could not accept, however, was that God should have any authority to interfere with his political overlordship, or that any of God’s Messengers should claim the right to command him.”

[50] He answered, ‘Our Lord is the One who gave everything its form and then guided (it).’47


47. That is, after giving His organic creations their varying forms and shapes, Allah guided them to their means of sustenance, methods of obtaining them, and ways by which they could live in communities and multiply their numbers: all instinctively (Ibn Jarir from the Salaf).

In the words of Mawdudi, “Now God did not simply create each thing on a certain pattern and leave it at that; rather, He taught each created being how it should function and fulfill the purpose for which it has been created. It is God who taught the fish how to swim and the birds to fly, the plants to blossom and the soil to produce vegetation..

“In the above sentence, which is crisp, pithy and rich, Moses not only mentions God Who is the object of his worship, but also explains why he accepted Him as his Lord and why none else could be acknowledged to be so. The statement embodies both the thesis and its supporting argument.”

Asad adds: “In the original, this sentence appears in the past sense (“has given” and “has guided”); but as it obviously relates to the continuous process of God’s creation, it is independent of the concept of time and denotes, as in so many other places in the Qur’an, an unceasing present. The term khalq signifies in this context not merely the inner nature of a created thing or being but also the outward form in which this nature manifests itself..”

Fir`awn’s manner of asking suggested that he wanted Musa to give him the address of the Lord God. Musa told him in effect, “Our Lord God is not a physical being (who can be met across the street: Au.). He can only be known through His Qualities and Attributes: ‘Our Lord is the One who gave everyone its form and then guided (it) – Qurtubi.

[51] He asked, ‘Then what about the previous generations?’48


48. What Fir`awn meant to say is, if there is a God Lord who created and gave every creation its guidance, why then the previous nations did not worship Him? Why did they miss the guidance? (“Are they, in thy view, irretrievably doomed?”: Asad). But Musa avoided this deviation from the main topic, gave a short answer about Allah’s all-comprehensive knowledge, and brought the conversation back to the main track about who their Lord – Musa’s, Fir`awn’s and everyone’s – was (Razi).

“At the same time, it is quite possible that Pharaoh’s intent in making the above statement was to incite people against Moses by appealing to their natural feelings of love and veneration for their ancestors. This weapon has frequently been used by the opponents of truth. At the time when these Qur’anic verses were revealed, this very weapon was being constantly employed against Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him)” – Mawdudi.

[52] He replied, ‘Knowledge about them rests with my Lord, (preserved) in a Book. My Lord neither errs, nor does He forget.’49


49. That is, Allah does not err, nor does He forget as you do, O claimant to godhead (Zamakhshari).

Asad adds the explanation, “I.e., He alone decrees their destiny in the life to come, for He alone knows their motives and understands the cause of their errors, and He alone can appreciate their spiritual merits and demerits.”

[53] He who made the earth a cradle for you, threaded therein paths for you, and sent down water out of heaven – and then We brought forth50 thereby many species of diverse plants.


50. Mawdudi offers an explanation to the change in the form of address: “The Qur’an is full of instances where statements are made about past incidents or about future events. Such statements are followed either by a few sentence of exhortation to piety and righteousness, or by explanation or elaboration of those sentences. The style of the text, on such occasions, indicates whether the statement in question was made by a human being or by God.”

[54] Eat and pasture your cattle. Surely in that are signs for men of understanding.51


51. Allah’s signs are spread all around. But why is it that the people are not guided by them? There are several reasons. One of them is people’s uncaring attitudes to anything serious in life. A sign is a kind of a signpost. You read it and move forward in the direction it shows. But, if you have nowhere to go, no paths to tread, no goals to reach, then the signposts are useless (Au.).

[55] From it We have created you, to it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out a second time.52


52. It is reported that once when a coffin had been placed in the grave, the Prophet threw in a handful of dust and said, “From it We have created you.” Then he threw in a second handful and said, “To it We shall return you.” Then he threw in a handful and said, “And from it We shall bring you out a second time” (Ibn Kathir).

Albani however thought that the hadith is weak (S. Ibrhim).

Refer Surah An`am, ayah, note 2 and the notes that follow for details concerning man’s origin from the dust and his return to the place from where the dust was taken.

(To be continued)

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