The Birth of Moses
The story of Prophet Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, is mentioned in many different passages in the Quran, sometimes in detail, and sometimes in brief. Here, we will mention an account of his life taken from the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic tradition)
The Quran states (what means): "Taa, Seen, Meem [three separate Arabic letters]. These are verses of the clear Book. We recite to you the news of Moosaa and Pharaoh in truth for a people who believe. 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 corruptors. And We wanted to confer favour upon those who were oppressed in the land and make them leaders and make them inheritors. And establish them in the land, and to show Pharaoh and [his minister] Haamaan and their soldiers through them that which they had feared." [Quran: 28:1-6]
Allah mentions here the gist of the story, which He later expands upon. He mentioned the details of this story to His Prophet Muhammad in truth, the way it happened; He, the Almighty, Says (what means): “Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions…”[Quran: 28:4]
Pharaoh (Pharaoh) rebelled in arrogance and was haughty. He preferred this world to the Hereafter, and disobeyed the Lord. He divided his people into sects. Some of them were made to live the life of subservience and humiliation; they were the people of Israel. They were the best people of their time. Pharaoh exploited them and dealt with them unjustly, forcing them to take up only the lowest of professions. Not only that, he also killed their males while keeping their women alive. The Quran states (what means): “…Slaughtering their [newborn] sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corruptors.”[Quran: 28:4]
The reason behind this evil practice was the belief of the Israelites that there would come a child from the progeny of Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allah exalt his mention, who would destroy the kingdom of Pharaoh. It happened when Saarah, may Allah exalt her mention, the wife of Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention, passed through Egypt, and there the king of Egypt tried to misbehave with her. But Allah saved her, and gave her the glad tidings that from her progeny would come a boy who would destroy that kingdom. This information was well known among the Israelites. The Coptic people of Egypt talked about it, till it reached Pharaoh through some of his ministers. Pharaoh then commanded the slaying of all the Israelite male children, in fear of this child.
Imaam As-Suddi who was a Muslim scholar, narrated from Ibn 'Abbaas and other Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, that Pharaoh had a dream that a fire came from the direction of Jerusalem and burnt all the Coptic people and their houses, but did not harm the Israelites. He woke up terrified and gathered all his priests, soothsayers, and sorcerers, and asked them for the interpretation of his dream. They said: "There will be born a boy from these people, who will destroy the people of Egypt." So Pharaoh ordered that all newborn boys be killed, while the girls were to be kept alive.
That is why Allah Says (what means): “And We wanted to confer favour upon those who were oppressed in the land [i.e., the Israelites] and make them leaders and make them inheritors." [Quran: 28:5] They were to take up the charge of the affairs of Egypt. Allah continues with what means: "And establish them in the land and show Pharaoh and [his minister] Haamaan and their soldiers through them that which they had feared." [Quran: 28: 6]
Allah promised to grant strength and control to those who were weak and suppressed. This Divine promise was fulfilled, and they became, as Allah Says in the Quran (what means): "And We caused the people who had been oppressed to inherit the eastern regions of the land and the western ones, which We had blessed. And the good word [i.e., decree] of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of what they had patiently endured…" [Quran: 7:137]
Allah also Says (what means): "So We removed them from gardens and springs. And treasures and honourable station – Thus. And We caused to inherit it the Children of Israel." [Quran: 26:57-59]
Moosaa survives Pharaoh's decree of death
Pharaoh took every step to make sure that Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, would not survive his birth; he even appointed midwives to check routinely upon pregnant women, and know the time of their delivery. No woman therefore gave birth to a baby boy except that the people of Pharaoh would kill it at birth.
Allah Says (what means): "And when he [i.e., Moosaa] brought them the truth from Us, they said: 'Kill the sons of those who have believed with him and keep their woman alive’…" [Quran: 40:25] That is why Israelites said to Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, what means: "…‘We have been harmed before you came to us and after you have come to us.’"[Quran: 7:129]
So the truth is that Pharaoh ordered the killing of boys in the first place to make sure that Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, would not live after his birth.
Many exegetes stated that the Coptic population complained to Pharaoh that the Israelites were decreasing in number because of the killing of their boys, so soon both the old and the young might perish. Consequently, they would lose the manpower of the Israelites, and be forced to carry out the work which they did. So Pharaoh found an economically and socially sound solution, and hence decreed a new order: to kill the boys born in one year and then spare the lives of those born during the following year.
It is said that Haaroon (Aaron), may Allah exalt his mention, was born during the year of pardon when children were not killed, while Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, was born in the year in which they were being killed. Moosaa’s mother was very worried from the moment she became pregnant. However, the sign of pregnancy did not show on her. When she gave birth to Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, it was inspired to her that she should make a chest (wooden box) and tie it with a long rope, with the other end tied to her house. As her house was on the bank of the Nile, she would place him in the chest letting the rope loose so it could be hidden in the reeds of the Nile.
Allah Says (what means): "And We inspired to the mother of Moosaa: '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 Haamaan 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 [what was to come]." [Quran: 28:7-9]
She was inspired in her heart that there was no cause for fear, even if he disappeared, Allah would bring him back to her, because He was going to send him as His Prophet and Messenger. He would be a person of honour in this world and in the Hereafter. She used to do what she had been commanded. However, on the day when she let the chest go in the Nile, she forgot to tie it to her house. The chest went on till it passed by Pharaoh’s palace.
The palace servants found the basket with the baby and took it to Pharaoh and his queen. When the queen beheld the lovely infant, Allah instilled in her a strong love for this baby. Pharaoh’s wife was very different from him. He was a disbeliever; she was a believer. He was cruel; she was merciful. He was a tyrant; she was delicate and kind-hearted. She was sad because she was infertile and had hoped to have a son. Hardly had she held the baby than she kissed him.
Pharaoh was stunned when he saw his wife hugging this baby to her breast. He was much astonished because his wife was weeping with joy, something he had never seen her do before. She requested her husband to allow her to keep the baby, so that he could be a son to him. So, as the Quran states (what means): "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 Haamaan and their soldiers were deliberate sinners.” [Quran: 28:8]
[To be continued…]