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 would like continue the series on power and oppression. Links to the previous blogs on this series are below:
He prayed "O my Lord! save me from people given to wrong-doing." Then, when he turned his face towards (the land of) Midian, he said: "I do hope that my Lord will show me the smooth and straight Path." (Quran 28:22)
Moses, upon him peace, went from being like a prince, experiencing privilege and prestige to now a fugitive running away from a tyrant out to slay him, to the land of Midian. The land of Midian was inhabited by Arabs, and some commentators say that the Arab Prophet, Shuaib was in the town, while others say it was the esteemed believer, known in the Bible as Jethro or Yathra in Arabic.
When Moses arrived to Midian, he was traveling for eight days, exhausting himself to the very end, reaching a point of starvation with his feet bleeding from walking tirelessly without food or water, except what he can find on the trees. He came near a well and fell underneath the shade of trees for shelter. He had completely nothing with him, and fully exhausted himself - to the very depth of his body and soul in pursuit of survival. It is not an easy experience - but in that state - what does he do?
Some would commit suicide, others go on shooting rampage, and others on drugs to numb their feelings or escape from the pain, fear and a whole new reality. He just experienced and accepted the event. He surrendered to the new reality he was in as this is where God brought him to. Then, in a state of dire need and exhaustion, he saw two women who had a need. Instead, of being absorbed with his need and his near starvation and exhaustion, he got up and approached them, asked a clarifying question, then addressed their need. He asked them for nothing in return. He made no assumptions or ugly accusations about their standing with their flock instead of a male relative. Afterwards, he turned to God and put forth his prayer asking for "whatever good that You bestow on me."
“And when he arrived at the water of Midian he found there a group of men watering their flocks, and beside them he found two women who were keeping back their flocks. He said, “What is the matter with you?” They said, “We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take their flocks. And our father is a very old man.” Therefore, he watered their flocks for them, and then he turned back to shade, and said, “My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” (Quran 28:22-24)
In this blog, I would like to reflect on the following names of God:
Al Wahhab - Allah has created a creation of donors who give without expecting return. But because they are not the creators of the things given through their hands, they are but signs of Allah's al-Wahhab. He is the donor of all, without conditions, without limits, without asking any benefit or return, given everything to everyone, everywhere, always. he gives money to the poor, health to the sick, children to those who are barren, freedom to the trapped, knowledge to the ignorant.
Al Muhaymin - He is the Protector and Guardian. He is the one who sees to the evolution and the growth of His creation, leading them where they are destined to go. Nothing escapes His attention for a moment. He is the one who watches the good deeds and rewards them fully. He counts the sins exactly, not adding to their punishment evens an amount the size of a mustard seed. One may find the reflection of al-Muhaymin in oneself through consciousness and awareness-by watching intently ones's actions, words, thoughts, and feelings, and by trying to control them.
--The Most Beautiful Names, Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti
Moses hoped for anything to help him survive as he was near starvation. Yet, God, Al Muhaymin watched the good deed that Moses fulfilled for the two women, without expecting anything in return. So, God, rewarded him, in return, turning to him with His name al-Wahhab - giving him shelter, food, job, and a family. Two things to note in this part of the story - a leader cannot have a deep seated prejudice towards women, see them as objects or exploit them.
So, people who go to strip joints, and then shoot Charlie Hebdo or Boko Haram who kidnap girls to abuse them, are not reformers.
A leader or reformer does not violate the boundaries of another human being, does not manipulate, does not hype others, does not overpower others for selfish motives and is open to embracing and receiving wisdom and knowledge from others. He does not look down at other cultures or embrace xenophobia or bigotry. He does not fear learning "Western education" and encourages Western societies not to fear "Eastern education."
“O humankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.” (Quran 49:13)
Like Prophet Muhammad, Moses, upon them peace and blessings, was not a tribal leader or promoted tribalism or racism. He was able to live amongst Arabs in Midian and embrace other cultures - and appreciate them.
Another important point to note is that the woman hinted to her dad, her desire to marry Moses. The relationship among them was a deep loving relationship of father and daughter. This was not a forced marriage, the father merely facilitated the process.
“Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said, “Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered our flocks for us.” So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said, “Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are wrong-doers.” And said one of them (the two women): “O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” He said, “I intend to wed one of these two daughters of mine to you, on condition that you serve me for eight years, but if you complete ten years, it will be a favour from you. But I intend not to place you under a difficulty. If Allah wills, you will find me one of the righteous.” He (Moses) said, “That is settled between me and you whichever of the two terms I fulfil, there will be no injustice to me, and Allah is Surety over what we say.” (Quran 28:25-28)
Like all reformers, Moses was given the gift of insight and awareness. He was made to observe and witness the negatives and ugly consequences of what Pharaoh and his soldiers were doing. He surrendered to God's will and accepted the way things are, and was nurtured by his new family of faith that there is a higher wisdom, yet outside his grasp.
Moses married the woman, named Zopparah, and spent the next ten years working with her father (either Prophet Shuaib or Jethro) and raising his own family. He went from a life of privilege learning leadership, politics and government and now was experiencing the life of a shepherd - a life of solitude and reflection. Instead of watching his people suffering and humiliated, he was made to ponder the wonders of God and the universe. There is a type of awe that penetrates one's soul when one looks at the stars in the midst of darkness.
During his time in Midian, Moses was a shepherd, like many of the prophets. Some argue, that people are like sheep, and to guide people and nurture them, the prophets were trained by attending to sheep. If you talk to a shepherd, this is not an easy job. Like humans, sheep, in particular, are weak animals requiring constant care and attention. A shepherd must be constantly on alert for their safety and wellbeing. The whole flock must be attended to and the shepherd must pull them back if they stray. His new profession increased him in knowledge, wisdom and insight, and one can speculate, allowed him to heal.
After the ten years of service, Moses, gathered his family together and made the long journey back to Egypt, but he got lost and was looking for guidance and how to find his way.
“Then, when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was traveling with his family, he saw a fire in the direction of Mount Tur. He said to his family, “Wait, I have seen a fire; perhaps I may bring to you from there some news, or a burning fire-brand that you may warm yourselves”. (Quran 28:29)
The call to prophethood
He walked towards the fire, and as he did, he heard a voice.
“…Blessed is whosoever is in the fire, and whosoever is round about it! And far removed is God from every imperfection, the Lord of all that exists. “O Moses! Verily! It is I, God, the All-Mighty, and the All-Wise.” (Quran 27:8-9)
Throughout his whole stay in Midian, he was under the watchful Eyes of God, being nurtured and prepared for prophethood. Now that he was trained and nurtured, he was ready to change the oppression he witnessed and liberate the Israelites. His next task was to train and nurture his people, so he could liberate them. I will discuss this in the following blog.
To God belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached you?