God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)
I began the series on power and oppression in a previous blog that can be read here. I would like to continue the lessons and focus on another lesson in the life of Prophet Moses, upon him peace.
In many stories of the Prophets, women are introduced as playing a strong leading role in protecting, nurturing and teaching the Prophets, upon them peace and blessings. I will elaborate more on this in the next blog.
The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (Quran 9:71)
As mentioned in the last blog, Moses, upon him peace was raised in the home of Pharaoh and his wife Asiya. In the story, Asiya, Moses' biological mother and his biological sister are introduced as the protectors and nurturers of Moses, upon him peace.
Generalizations of the weak in the land are part of the story of oppression. In any oppressive social setting, there is more than just pain, humiliation and hatred; there is a general disrespect for life, and a lack of compassion of how destructive those settings can be on the soul of the victim. Such social settings do impact everyone, some more than others. Unless challenged the abuse festers and brews, and one is left to their own consciousness to realize the wrong in what they have done. Very few walk that road. This opens the door for many to want to break the chains and end the oppression. However, what lesson can we learn from the stories of the Prophets in fighting oppression? Do they use the same strategy or different strategies? Is their response always war or talk, talk, and keep talking profusely to win the argument?
These are questions I ask myself when I read the Qur'an.
During the time of Moses' birth, Pharaoh ordered every male newborn, to be executed every other year. Being inspired by God, and placing her trust in God, Moses' mother placed him in the chest and put it in the river, while his sister watched the chest as it floated to Pharaoh's place. When Asiya took him as a son, Moses' would not accept any of the wet nurses and his biological sister suggested a woman (her mother) to Asiya who accepted. As promised by God, Moses' mother was comforted by nursing her son and raising him during his early years. It remained a secret that he was her son.
Under and due to Asiya's protection, Moses grew up like a prince in a world of privilege. Due to him, the suffering of Israelites was reduced, yet they were still slaves in Egypt and oppressed.
Moses grew up with faith and was very much conscious of the oppressive setting that his people endured. In his own way he tried to reduce the pain and suffering, but that was more like taking a Tylenol or Advil to reduce the pain. At times, our plans to protect others or ourselves fall short from solving problems or open up a bigger problem. Our wisdom and consciousness or awareness are limited of how things will play out. But these occurrences are all part of God's plan.
Two beautiful names of God that I would like focus on in this Lesson. Al Hakim, the Wise and Al Khabir, the All-Aware. Below is a brief description of each name.
Al Khabir - He is the one who is aware of the hidden inner occurrences in everything. He is the one whose cognizance reaches the deepest, darkest, hidden corners of His kingdom, where neither human intelligence nor His angels can penetrate. Occurrences which are not yet actualized, but in a state of formation or being planned and hidden, like secrets within secrets, are manifest to Him. None can escape His attention. Know that there is nothing that you do in secret-or think of doing-that is not known by Him.
Al Hakim - He is perfectly wise, in His knowledge and in His deeds. There is no doubt or uncertainty in His knowledge, nor does it have an end.
--The Most Beautiful Names, Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti
Upon reaching adulthood, abruptly, Moses faced an event which drove him out of Egypt, all under the plan of God.
One day, Moses entered the city at a time when the streets were empty and market places were closed. He found two people fighting: an Israelite and an Egyptian. The Israelite called him for help. Moses had a high position which he used to protect the Israelites - so he was upset that he would be called to help him against the pharaonite.
Accidentally, Moses struck the pharaonite and killed him. Immediately he said:
"This is of Satan's doing. Indeed, he is a clear, misleading enemy! My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me!" and He forgave him. Indeed, He is Forgiving, the Merciful. He said, "My Lord, because of the favor You have bestowed upon me, never will I be a supporter of criminals!" And he became, within the city, fearful and anticipating the spread of the news. [28:15-18]
Important point to reflect on is his deep remorse, which was instant, within a split second. This remorse was a private and intimate communication between him and God. People who genuinely feel remorse, repent and have empathy toward others do not engage in projection - as we will see.
No one knew of what happened except Moses and the Israelite. Moses at this point committed himself to sever his ties with Pharaoh and his tyrannical regime which was engaging in divide and conquer within Egypt and oppressing the Israelites. He was willing to give up his privilege and high rank.
Clash of two Israelites
The following day, the Quran continues the story with the following:
So he saw the morning in the city, looking about, in a state of fear, when behold, the man who had, the day before, sought his help called aloud for his help (again). Moses said to him: "Thou art truly, it is clear, a quarrelsome fellow!" Then, when he decided to lay hold of the man who was an enemy to both of them, that man (Israelite) said: "O Moses! Is it thy intention to slay me as thou slewest a man yesterday? Thy intention is none other than to become a powerful violent man in the land, and not to be one who sets things right!" (Quran 28:18-19)
Based on commentary to these verses, the Israelite who called for help again, assumed Moses was going to get hold of him, and when he feared for his life - he immediately disclosed what happened the day before, and thereby put Moses' life in danger.
Let us pause here and reflect.
The Quran gives us pearls of wisdom to help us in our struggle against oppression and if we want God's help how to introspect and with God's grace check ourselves. When facing the enemy - both Israelites tried to resist, only Moses was resisting not for his self but for the fellow Israelite putting his rank and privilege in a state of sacrifice. Only Moses felt remorse at the loss of life which remained with him the following day such that it made him anxious and yell at that same Israelite the following day.
That Israelite had a pattern of being in trouble and yelling for help. However, while Moses was aiming at protecting the Israelite and fighting oppression, the other Israelite was acting out of selfish motives, not only did he not care about the loss of life - if he genuinely did - he would have said something the day before to Moses or others. He would have felt so much remorse that it would have left an impact on him the following day and prevented him from being in trouble again. Upon seeing Moses again in the city, he would have refused to call him for help - given what he witnessed.
However, he remained silent and was in trouble again and yelling for help again. Yet, when he assumed his life was in danger - at that point - concerned only for himself and forgetting the protection that Moses offered him the day before - he disclosed what happened, and thereby put Moses' life in danger. He projected his internal reality onto Moses, accusing him of seeking "to become a powerful violent man in the land, and not to be one who sets things right!"
According to Islamic teachings, Prophets and Messengers are divinely protected from sin. This trial is understood as a test. There is wisdom in the mistake that Moses made to understand some of the secrets within and how trials are faced by Prophets.
So what does Moses do? His life is now in danger. He could have used his privilege and power to claim that the other Israelite hyped him up - and have him arrested. He could have hit the other Israelite for dragging him into a fight that he had no intention of engaging in, then leaving him to suffer the consequences and thinking only of himself. Yet, he did none of the above. God, the Wise and the All-Aware guided him to leave as he knew the whole reality.
And there came a man, running, from the furthest end of the City. He said: "O Moses! the Chiefs are taking counsel together about thee, to slay thee: so get thee away, for I do give thee sincere advice." He therefore got away therefrom, looking about, in a state of fear. He prayed "O my Lord! save me from people given to wrong-doing." Then, when he turned his face towards (the land of) Madyan, he said: "I do hope that my Lord will show me the smooth and straight Path." (Quran 28:20-22)
True reformers are people who have the capacity to feel remorse. They value life, all life. They are people of sacrifice and when their lives are in danger, they turn to God and seek guidance - on what is the best way to respond. At times, God inspires you to put the babe in the basket, at times He inspires you to raise that child as your own, and at times He inspires you to leave as He has other plans for you.
This is a reflection piece and meant for one to analyze themselves and not others.
To God belongs the most beautiful names. Has the story of Moses reached you?