Moses v. Muhammad
Except towards the end, there are few interruptions, as this variation of a familiar story is told in a very straightforward manner requiring little explanation.
The last revealed truths in this series of revelations are another matter altogether. In these communications, Allah, among other things, appears to want to reassure the Prophet that just because Moses delivered His Message in spectacular fashion does not mean He cared more about Moses then His Last and Greatest Messenger.
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
28:1 Tah – Sin – Mim (the significance of these letters is not clear).
28:2 Those are the verses of the Manifest Book,
28:3 We recite to you part of the news of Moses and Pharaoh truthfully, for a people who believe.
28:4 Pharaoh waxed proud in the land and reduced its habitants into factions, subduing a group of them, slaughtering their sons and sparing their women. He was truly a corruption-worker.
The meek may inherit the earth after all.
28:5 We wish to favour the downtrodden in the land and make them leaders and make them the inheritors;
28:6 And establish them firmly in the land and show Pharaoh and Haman and their troops what they used to fear.
28:7 We revealed to Moses’ mother: “Suckle him; but if you fear for him, cast him into the water and do not fear or grieve. We shall return him to you and make him one of the Messengers.”
28:8 Then the folk of Pharaoh picked him up, to become an enemy and a source of sorrow for them. Pharaoh, Haman (the minister of Pharaoh), and their troops were surely sinful.
28:9 Pharaoh’s wife said: “He is a comfort to you and me. Do not kill him; perhaps he will profit us or we will take him for a son.” Yet they were not well aware.
28:10 The heart of Moses’ mother became vacant; she almost exposed him, but for Our fortifying her heart, so that she might be one of the believers.
28:11 She said to his sister: “Follow his tracks”, and so she observed him from a distance, while they were unaware.
28:12 And We forbade him earlier from being nursed by foster-mothers; so she (Moses’ sister) said: “Shall I lead you to a household who will take charge of him for you and will take good care of him?”
28:13 Then We returned him to his mother, so that she might be comforted and not grieve, and that she might know that Allah’s Promise is true; but most of them do not know.
Growing up Moses may not have been that bright.
28:14 When he was fully grown, and became an adult, We conferred on him judgement and knowledge. That is how We reward the beneficent.
28:15 And he entered the city at a time when its inhabitants were unheeding; and so he found in it two men fighting, one of his own sect, the other from his enemies. Whereupon the one of his sect solicited his assistance against the one from his enemies; so Moses struck him and killed him. He said: “This is the work of Satan; he is a manifestly misleading enemy.”
28:16 He said: “Lord, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.” Then He forgave him. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, the Merciful.
28:17 He said: “Lord, in as much as you have favoured me, I will not be a supporter of the criminals.”
28:18 The next morning, He became fearful and vigilant; and lo and behold, the man who had sought his assistance on the previous day was calling out to him. Moses said to him: “You are clearly in error.”
Is Moses about to kill the man he killed the day before, or perhaps the person whom he assisted a day earlier?
28:19 So, when he (Moses) was about to kill the one who was their enemy, he said: “O Moses, do you wish to kill me as you killed another living soul yesterday? Do you only wish to become a tyrant in the land and do not wish to be one of the righteous.”
28:20 And a man came from the farthest part of the city running. He said: “O Moses, the dignitaries are conspiring to kill you. Depart then, I am one of your sincere advisors.”
28:21 So, he departed from it fearful and vigilant. He said: “Lord, deliver me from the wrongdoing people.”
28:22 And when he headed towards Midian, he said: “Perhaps, my Lord will guide me unto the Right Path.”
28:23 And when he arrived at the water of Midian, he found there a company of men watering their cattle, and he found, apart from them, two women holding back. He said: “What is the matter with you both?” They said: “We will not water our flock until the cattle-herders leave off, and our father is a very old man.”
28:24 So, he watered their flock for them, and then moved towards the shade and said: “Lord, I am in dire need of whatever good You might send down to me.”
28:25 Then, one of the two women came to him walking coyly. She said: “My father is calling you in order to reward you for watering our flock.” So, when he came to him and told him the story, he said: “Do not fear, you have escaped from the wrongdoing people.”
28:26 One of the two women said: “Father, hire him. Surely, the best one you can hire is the strong and faithful one.”
28:27 He said: “I want to marry you to one of these two daughters of mine, provided you serve me for eight years. If you complete ten years, that will be of your own accord; and I do not wish to make things hard for you. You will find me, if Allah wishes, one of the righteous.”
28:28 He said: “This is a compact between you and me; whichever term I complete, my action will not be impugned, and Allah shall vouchsafe what we are saying.”
28:29 So, when Moses completed the term and set out with his family, he observed a fire on the side of the Tur Mountain (Sinai). He said to his family: “Stay here, I have observed a fire. Perhaps, I can bring you some news of it or a brand of fire that you might warm yourselves.”
28:30 When he approached it, he was summoned from the right side of the valley, on the sacred spot by the tree: “O Moses, it is I, Allah, the Lord of the Worlds;
28:31 “Cast your staff”, but when he saw it shaking like a snake, he turned away running not looking back. “O Moses, come forward and do not fear, you are certainly safe.
28:32 “Slip your hand into your bosom and it will come out white, without blemish; then press [your arm] to your side so as not to fear. Those, then, are two proofs to Pharaoh and his dignitaries from your Lord. Indeed, they have been a sinful people.”
28:33 He said: “Lord, I have killed from them a living soul, and I fear that they might kill me.
28:34 “My brother Aaron is more eloquent than I; so send him with me as a supporter to vouch for me. I fear that they will denounce me as a liar.”
28:35 He (Allah) said: “We will strengthen your arm with your brother and We will give you authority; so that they will not touch you. By Our Signs, you and those who follow you will be the victors.”
28:36 But when Moses came to them with Our Clear Signs, they said: “This is only faked sorcery and we never heard of this among our forefathers.”
28:37 Moses then said: “My Lord knows better him who brings the guidance from Him, and him who will have the reward of the ultimate abode. The wrongdoers shall never prosper.”
A verse previously identified as perhaps referring to the Tower of Babel:
28:38 Pharaoh then said: “O my dignitaries, I did not know that you had any god but me. So kindle for me, O Haman, a fire upon the clay and build me a tower that I might behold the God of Moses. I really think he is a liar.”
28:39 And he and his troops waxed proud in the land unjustly, and thought that they will not be returned to Us.
28:40 Then We seized him and his troops and cast them into the sea; so behold what was the end of the wrongdoers!
Adding insult to injury:
28:41 And We made them leaders calling to the Fire; and on the Day of Resurrection (Judgement Day), they will not be supported.
28:42 And We pursued them in this world with a curse, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be among the despised.
Another twist to Allah’s definition of mercy. He will be merciful if the example of his mercilessness (destroying the former generations in the following verse) serves to convince the current generation of His Mercy i.e. to become a believer.
28:43 We have given Moses the Book, after We had destroyed the former generations, to serve as examples to mankind and as guidance and mercy, in order that they may remember well.
A series of verses which appear to be meant to reassure the Prophet Muhammad that just because He (Allah) delivered the commandments to Moses in such a spectacular fashion, and that because he (Muhammad) was not there to see it, this does not mean he is a lesser Prophet.
28:44 You were not on the western side [of the Mountain], when We decreed the commandment to Moses, and you were not one of the witnesses.
28:45 But We created other generations whose age lasted for too long, and you were not dwelling among the inhabitants of Midian reciting Our Verses to them, but We were sending other Messengers.
If it’s any consolation, you are My first Messenger to the Arabs.
28:46 You were not by the side of the Mountain when We called, but [We are sending you (Muhammad)] as a mercy from your Lord, to warn a people who had no warner prior to you, that perchance they might remember.
Allah did make it more difficult for His greatest and last Messenger to convince the Arabs that he was the genuine article. His listeners only had the Prophet’s word for it (no miracles or awe inspiring spectacles with witnesses to testify as to what they had seen and heard), that he was in direct communication with God and that he was Allah’s last Mercy.
They either acknowledge that he was God’s Messenger, and believed in the message he was conveying from the Almighty, or they were all literally toast, fuel for Allah’s’ Fire.
Allah ponders in the next verse why humankind waits for Him to make their lives miserable before seeking His instructions on how to behave to avoid Him visiting another calamity on the people He purports to want to help.
28:47 And lest an adversity befall them, on account of what their hands have perpetrated, so that they could say: “ Our Lord, if only You had sent us a Messenger, that we might follow your signs and be among the believers.”
Tablets may have been what were on the disbelievers' collective mind when they complained about Allah’s latest method for sending His final and complete message.
God’s latest transmission scheme stretched credibility to its limits by requiring them to accept the words of one man whom He would not even oblige with a miracle of the type He had done for Moses. It would help them to believe that Muhammad was His Messenger, they intimated in the next verse, if He could be bothered to send His instructions in a more tangible form as he had done for Moses, carving them into stone tablets.
28:48 But, when the Truth came to them from Us, they said: “If only he (Muhammad) had been given the like of what Moses had received?”…
Allah countered that even after the spectacular way he delivered his Message via Moses, which pre-dated the last message of the Koran by at least two thousand years, people chose not to believe in either.
28:48 …Had they not disbelieved in what Moses received formerly? They said: “Two sorceries backing each other up”, and they said: “We are disbelieving in both.”
A tactic of Allah’s when someone questions the divine origins of the Koran (a tactic with which you should now be familiar) is to have his Messenger challenge the sceptics to do better.
28:49 Say: “Bring, then, a Book from Allah giving better guidance than both (the Qur’an and the Torah), and I will follow it, if you are truthful.”
If they don’t take up the challenge, He informs His Messenger, it is because it is they who are delusional, and He can’t be bothered with people who would think for themselves.
28:50 If, however, they do not answer you, then know that they only follow their fancies; and who is more in error than he who follows his own fancy without guidance from Allah. Allah, surely, does not guide the wrongdoing people.
28:51 And now, We have communicated the Word to them, that perchance they may remember.
28:52 Those, to whom We have given the book before it (the Qur’an), do believe in it.
This does not mean that all the people of the Book (the Jews and the Christians) affirm faith in it. This, in fact, contains an allusion to the event that occurred during the period when this Surah was revealed, and was meant to put to shame the people of Makkah, as if to say, "You are denying and rejecting a blessing that has been sent in your own city, whereas the people from far off places, when they hear of it, come to recognize its worth and benefit from it."
28:53 When it is recited to them, they say: “We believe in it; it is the truth from our Lord. We were, even prior to it, submissive [to Allah] (that is, Muslims).”
28:54 Those shall be given their wages twice, because they stood fast, and will ward off the evil deed with the good one, and out of what We provided them with will spend freely.
Mecca’s prosperity was owned in large part to the Ka’bah which was, before the Muslim conquest of the city, a shrine to all religions of the known world and attracted pilgrims from all over the Peninsula and beyond. Allah wanted the Ka’bah all to Himself. If the Meccans became Muslims they were afraid of losing the prosperity and have to move i.e. “of being snatched from our land”, revelation 28:57, that being opened to all Faiths brought it, according to Moududi. Allah’s answer was that they owed their home and their prosperity, the food that caravans brought to the desert city to Him; understood was that if they submitted He would continue to provide.
28:57 And they said: “If we follow the guidance with you, we will be snatched from our land.” Have We not established a safe sanctuary for them, to which are brought all kinds of fruit, as provision, from Ourselves? However, most of them do not know.
As you may appreciate from reading the preceding, the pre-Islamic Arabs were a practical, sceptical, questioning people. It is not that they did not want to believe that their forty/fifty-something tribesman, Muhammad, with whom they had grown up had been chosen out of the blue, as he claimed, to be God’s last spokesperson. They just wanted some tangible proof, and it need not be Tablets as acknowledged by Allah in the following verse, although a more heavenly delivery system would help them believe even more.
6:7 Had We sent down upon you a Book on parchment so that they could touch it with their own hands, those who disbelieve would still have said: “This is nothing but manifest sorcery.”
The Koran was said to have been revealed to the Prophet by the Archangel Gabriel. If this is the case, then the following verses don’t make any sense, unless the people were demanding to see the angel with whom the Prophet was spending his nights learning the Koran.
6:8 And they say: “Why has not an angel been sent down to him [the Prophet]?” But had we sent down an angel, their fate would have been sealed, and then they would not have been given any respite.
6:9 And had We made him an angel, We would have certainly made him [look like] a man and thus confounded them with what they are using to confound others.
But it is really a Moses like spectacle, verse 3:183, that the people want, which Allah acknowledges.
3:181 Allah has heard the words of those who said: “Allah is poor, and we are rich.” We shall write down what they said, together with their killing of the Prophets unjustly, and We shall say: “Taste the torment of burning [in the Fire]!”
3:182 That is, on account of what your hands did earlier, and that Allah is not unjust to His servants;
Moses, in the Bible, is assumed to have died a natural death. I do not know to whom Allah is referring in telling His Messenger to reply that, the last time He delivered His message in the manner requested, they killed the Messenger. Perhaps Allah is referring to Jesus.
3:183 Those who say: “Allah has actually commanded us not to trust a messenger until he brings us an offering consumed by the Fire.” Say [to them]: “Messengers have already come to you with clear proofs (miracles) before me, together with what you asked for. Why then did you kill them, if you are truthful?”
3:184 If, however, they accuse you of lying, Messengers who before you brought clear proofs (miracles), the Scriptures and the illuminating Book were also accused of lying.
It is unfortunate that Allah, or His Messenger, may not have appreciated that the times had changed. Unlike the biblical story of Moses, which has no written firsthand account, being oral tales passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years, some of the Prophet’s contemporaries were taking notes as it happened.
A Moses-like delivery of the Koran would have been an earth-shattering event of historical proportions with thousands upon thousands of eye witnesses, many writing down what they saw, making it difficult for the cynics to disprove what had taken place, as the awe-inspiring story quickly spread across the known world and beyond.
And of course, there would have been the Tablets in Allah’s own handwriting and in Arabic. WOW!
This written record jotted down in real time and beyond dispute, would have made it unnecessary for Allah and His Messenger to cause the violent death of so many men, women and children, then and now, to get us to believe that the Prophet Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger.
His last and greatest Messenger, entrusted with a Compassionate and Merciful God’s final, unchanging instructions as to how we must behave, how we must think and how He must be worshipped if we are to avoid spending an eternity on fire in His Hell.