The queen summoned a few wet nurses to suckle baby Moosaa (Moses), may Allah exalt his mention, but he would not take any of their breasts. The queen was distressed and sent for more wet nurses. Moosaa’s sister was also worried, as her baby brother had gone without milk for a long time. Seeing the queen's anxiety, she blurted that she knew just the mother who would suckle the child affectionately. They asked her why she was following the floating chest. She said she did so out of curiosity. Her excuse sounded reasonable, so they believed her. They ordered her to rush and fetch the woman she was talking about. Her mother also was waiting with a heavy heart, worried about the fate of her baby. Just then her daughter rushed in with the good news. Her heart lifted and she lost no time in reaching the palace. Allah the Almighty mentions this story in the Quran. [Quran: 28:10-13]
As the child was put to her breast, he immediately started suckling. Pharaoh (Pharaoh) was astonished and asked: "Who are you? This child has refused to take any other breast but yours!" Had she told the truth, Pharaoh would have known that the child was an Israelite and would have killed it instantly. However, Allah gave her inner strength and she replied: "I am a woman of sweet milk and sweet fragrance, and no child refuses me." This answer satisfied Pharaoh. She was appointed as Moosaa’s wet nurse. She continued to breast-feed him for a long time. When he was bigger and was weaned, she was allowed the privilege of visiting him. Moosaa, may Allah exalt him mention, was raised in the palace as a prince.
Allah Says (what means): “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.” [Quran: 28:14]
Allah had granted Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, good health, strength, knowledge, and wisdom. The weak and oppressed turned to him for protection and justice.
One day, in the main city, he, may Allah exalt his mention, saw two men fighting. One was an Israelite, who was being beaten by the other, an Egyptian. On seeing Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, the Israelite begged him for help. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, became involved in the dispute and, in a state of anger, struck a heavy blow on the Egyptian, who died on the spot. Upon realising that he had killed a human being, Moosaa’s heart was filled with deep sorrow, and immediately he begged Allah for forgiveness.
He had not intended to kill the man. He pleaded with Almighty Allah to forgive him, and he felt a sense of peace filling his whole being. Thereafter Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, began to show more patience and sympathy towards people.
Soon after this, as Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, was passing through the city, a man approached and alerted him: “O Moosaa! The chiefs have taken counsel against you. You are to be tried and killed. I would advise you to escape.” Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, left Egypt in a hurry without going to Pharaoh’s palace or changing his clothes. Nor was he prepared for travelling. He did not have a beast of burden upon which to ride, and he was not in a caravan. He travelled on foot in the direction of Madyan, which was the nearest inhabited land between Syria and Egypt. His only companion in this hot desert was Allah, and his only provision was piety. There was not a single root to pick to lessen his hunger. The hot sand burned the soles of his feet. However, fearing pursuit by Pharaoh’s men, he forced himself to continue on. He travelled for eight nights, hiding during the day. After crossing the main desert, he reached a watering hole outside Madyan where shepherds were watering their flocks.
No sooner had Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, reached Madyan than he threw himself under a tree to rest. He suffered from hunger and fatigue. The soles of his feet felt as if they were worn out from hard walking on sand and rocks and from the dust. He did not have any money to buy a new pair of sandals, nor to buy food or drink. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, noticed a band of shepherds watering their sheep. He went to the spring, where he saw two young women preventing their sheep from mixing with the others.
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, sensed that the women were in need of help. Forgetting his thirst, he drew nearer to them and asked if he could help them in any way.
The older sister said: “We are waiting until the shepherds finish watering their sheep, then we will water ours.”
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, asked again: “Why are you waiting?”
The younger one said: “We cannot push men.”
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, was surprised that women were shepherding, as only men were supposed to do it. It is hard and tiresome work, and one needs to be on the alert. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, asked: “Why are you shepherding?”
The younger sister said: “Our father is an old man; his health is too poor for him to go outdoors for pasturing sheep.”
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, said: “I will water the sheep for you.”
When he approached the water, he saw that the shepherds had put over the mouth of the spring an immense rock that could only be moved by ten men. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, embraced the rock and lifted it out of the spring's mouth. He was certainly strong. He watered their sheep and put the rock back in its place.
He returned to sit in the shade of the tree. At this moment he realised that he had forgotten to drink. His stomach was sunken because of hunger.
Almighty Allah describes this event in the verses (which mean): “And when he [i.e., Moosaa] came to the water [i.e., well] of Madyan, he found there a crowd of people watering [their flocks], and he found aside from them two women driving back [their flocks]. He said: ‘What is your circumstance?’ They said: ‘We do not water until the shepherds dispatch [their flocks]; and our father is an old man.’ So he watered [their flocks] for them; then he went back to the shade and said: ‘My Lord! Indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need’” [Quran: 28:23-24]
The young ladies returned home earlier than usual, which surprised their father. They related the incident at the well, which was the reason that they were back early. Their father sent one of his daughters to invite the stranger to his home. Bashfully, the woman approached Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention: “My father is grateful for what you have done for us. He invites you to our home so that he may thank you personally.”
Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, welcomed this invitation and accompanied the maiden to her father. He, may Allah exalt his mention, could see that they lived comfortably as a happy and peaceful household. He introduced himself and told the old man about the misfortune that had befallen him and had compelled him to flee from Egypt. The old man comforted him: “Fear not, you have escaped from the wrong-doers.”
Moosaa’s gentle behaviour was noticed by the father and his daughters. The man invited him to stay with them. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, felt at home with this happy household, for they were friendly and fearful of Allah.
One of the daughters suggested to her father that he employ Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, as he was strong and trustworthy. They needed someone like him, especially at the water hole, which was visited by ruffians.
The father asked her how she could be sure of his trustworthiness in such a short time. She replied: “When I bade him to follow me to our home, he insisted that I walk behind him so he would not observe my form (to avoid sexual attraction).”
The old man was pleased to hear this. He approached Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, and said: “I wish to marry you to one of my daughters on condition that you agree to work for me for a period of eight years.”
This offer suited Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, very well, for being a stranger in this place, he would soon have to search for shelter and work. Moosaa, may Allah exalt his mention, married the Madyanite's daughter and looked after the old man's animals for ten long years.
Time passed, and he lived in seclusion, far from his family and his people. This period of ten years was of importance in his life. It was a period of major preparation. Certainly Moosaa’s mind was absorbed in the stars every night. He followed the sunrise and the sunset every day. He pondered on the plants and everything else around him. He contemplated water and how the earth is revived by it and flourishes after its death.
Of course, he was also immersed in the Glorious Book of Allah, open to the insight and heart. He was immersed in the existence of Allah. All these became latent within him.
One day after the end of this period, a vague homesickness arose in Moosaa’s heart. He wanted to return to Egypt. He was fast and firm in making his decision, telling his wife: “Tomorrow we shall leave for Egypt.” His wife said to herself. “There are a thousand dangers in departing that have not yet been revealed.” However, she obeyed her husband.
[To be continued…]