Thursday 19 September 2019

Surah Ta Ha: 20th Chapter of Quran - Exegesis Part I

Sürah Ta Ha is the 20th surah with 135 ayahs with 8 rukus, part of the 16th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. This Sürah takes its name from its "first word "Ta Ha طٰهٰ​ "  - the "disconnected" or "mysterious" (Muqatta'at) Arabic letters: طه (Taha).

Owing to the length of the surah, the exegesis / tafseer has been broken down into following  parts for better understanding as under and will be presented separately in our subsequent posts: 
  • The Overview
  • Part I :   Rukhu 1- 2 (Verses 1-54) - Mention of Prophet Musa (Moses) and Pharaoh 
  • Part II:   Rukhu 3-5 (verses 55-104) - Mention of Prophet Moses continues
  • Part III: Rukhu 6-8 (Verses 105-135) - Mention of Day of Judgement and Adam's creation and Shaitan's temptation and Allah forgiveness of Adam's sin
Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Part I of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

Ruku / Section 1 [1-24] Verses 1 - 8 Al-Quran is a reminder for those who fear Allah, the Creator of the heavens and earth
( 1)  Ta Ha طٰهٰ​    
[These disjoined letters are one of the miracles and mysteries of the Qur'an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings - see our earlier post for details: Understanding the Holy Quran: Huroof Muqatta’at - Disjoined Letters].
( 2 ) We have not sent down to you the Qur'an that you be distressed
Allah's revelation may cause some human trouble for two reasons: (1) it checks man's selfishness and narrowness of view, and (2) it annoys the wicked and causes them to jeer and persecute. These are mere incidental things, due to man's own shortcomings. As far as the trouble is concerned, the revelation is meant to give a warning, so that persecutors may be reclaimed, (and of course for men of faith it is comfort and consolation, though that point does not arise in this context).
( 3 )   But only as a reminder for those who fear [Allah]
This verse makes plain the meaning of the previous one. The object of the revelation of the Quran is not to make the Prophet (peace be upon him) do something impossible and to put him to unnecessary distress by demanding from him to imbue the hearts of the obdurate people with faith, but to admonish those people who have fear of Allah. Therefore the Prophet (peace be upon him) should not waste his efforts on those people who have no fear of God left in them, and who do not bother at all about what is truth and what is falsehood.
( 4 )   A revelation from He who created the earth and highest heavens,( 5 )   The Most Merciful [who is] above the Throne established.
If things seem to be wrong in our imperfect vision on this earth, we must remember Allah, Who encompasses all Creation and sits on the throne of Grace and Mercy, is in command, and our Faith tells us that all must be right. Allah's authority is not like an authority on earth, which may be questioned, or which may not last. His authority is "firmly established".

"Surely your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then established Himself on the Throne (of His Dominion), governing all affairs of the universe.4 None may intercede with Him except after obtaining His leave. Such is Allah, your Lord; do therefore serve Him. Will you not take heed?" [ Surah 10. Yunus, verse 3 ]
( 6 )   To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth and what is between them and what is under the soil.
An exhaustive definition of everything we can conceive of-what is in the heavens, on the earth, or between, or within the bowels of the earth.
( 7 )   And if you speak aloud - then indeed, He knows the secret and what is [even] more hidden.
That is, you need not complain to Allah in a loud voice against the persecution from which you and your companions are suffering and the mischievous machinations your enemies are devising to defeat you for Allah is fully aware of all those things, and He hears even the complaints you cherish in your hearts.

There are two or three implications. (1) Whatever you profess, or say aloud, gives no information to Allah: He knows not only what is secret and perhaps unknown to others, but what people take special care to conceal. (2) It does you no good to make insincere professions: your hidden motives are known to Him, Who alone matters. (3) If you read the Word of Allah, or if you pray to Allah, it is not necessary to raise your voice: in either case, Allah will judge you by your inner thoughts which are like an open book to Him.
( 8 )   Allah - there is no deity except Him. To Him belong the best names.
Allah is The One and the most beautiful things we can think of are referable to Him. His names refer to His attributes which are like titles of Honour and Glory.

These Beautiful Names of Allah are many. The hadith related by Tirmizi, accepted by some as authentic, mentions 99 names of Allah. Please read meaning of each of these beautiful names / attributes at: 99 Attributes of Allah.

Mention of Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him)
From verses 9-99 Story of Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) begins, which from verses 9-54 will be discussed in this Part I, and the remaining portion will be discussed in Part II (Later).

The gist of story of Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) is as under:
Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him)  is the most mentioned prophet in the Quran. The various events of his life from different angles have been mentioned so that his personality emerges in a different perspective every time. Reference is made of the journey of Moses and his family from Madyan to Egypt.  When he goes towards the light he hears the voice of God calling him.  Moses holds a conversation with his Lord at the Holy valley.  God tells him to establish prayer for His remembrance, then gives him two miracles.  One, that his staff will turn into a serpent when he throws it on the ground; and second, that when he presses his right hand to his left side, it will come forth white and shining.  After this God tells him about the mission he has been chosen for: call Pharaoh to the path of God.  Moses prays to God for support and for his brother to assist him.  God accepts his prayers and grants him his wish and reminds him of the blessings that were bestowed on him since his birth, when the Pharaoh of that time was killing the sons of all the Israelites.  God further reminds Moses how He had made him go through the various twists and turns of his life before coming finally to this awesome moment when he was being chosen as a Prophet. 
When Pharaoh saw the signs of God, he felt threatened and summoned his sorcerers for a duel.  Pharaoh’s sorcerers challenge to Moses, and finally recognize the truth of their Lord.  Then God commanded Moses to take the people of "Bani Israel" out of the slavery of Pharaoh.  But when Moses went to Mount Toor to receive the Torah, his people started worshipping the statue of a calf, being led astray by Samiri.  Moses banished him and burnt the idol.  The purpose of all these stories from the past is that we may learn from it. 
Verses 9 - 16 Prophet Musa went to the sacred valley of 'Tuwa' at mount Tur

Mount Sinai (Arabic: طور سيناء‎ Ṭūr Sīnāʼ  or جبل موسى Jabal Mūsá ; Egyptian Arabic: Gabal Mūsa, lit. "Moses' Mountain" or "Mount Moses"; Hebrew: הר סיני‎ Har Sinai ), also known as Mount Horeb, is a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt that is the traditional and most accepted identification of the biblical Mount Sinai. The latter is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah, the Bible, and the Quran. According to Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition, the biblical Mount Sinai was the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments. [ Photo: Mohammed Moussa / Wikimedia Commons ]
( 9 )   And has the story of Moses reached you?
The story of Moses in its different incidents is told in many places in the Qur'an, and in each case the phase most appropriate in the context is referred to or emphasised. In Surah Baqarah ii. 49-61, it was a phase from the religious history of mankind; in Surah Al A'raf vii. 103-162, it was a phase from the story of the Ummat (or nation) of Israel, and the story was continued to the times after Moses, in Surah Al Isra xvii. 101-103, we have a picture of the decline of a soul in the arrogance of Pharaoh; here, in xx. 9-24, we have a picture of the rise of a soul in the commission given to Moses from Allah; in xx. 25-36, we have his spiritual relationship with his brother Aaron; in xx. 37-40, we have his spiritual relation with his mother and sister, and his upbringing; in xx. 41-76, we have his spiritual combat with Pharaoh; and in xx. 77-98, we have his spiritual combat with his own people, the Israelites.
( 10 )   When he saw a fire and said to his family, "Stay here; indeed, I have perceived a fire; perhaps I can bring you a torch or find at the fire some guidance."
This happened when Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was returning to Egypt after passing several years in exile in Midian, along with his wife whom he had married there. According to the early part of his history, which has been related in Surah Al-Qasas, an Egyptian had been killed by Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), so he had to leave Egypt in order to escape arrest and had taken refuge in Midian.

It appears that this happened during a night of winter, when Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was passing through the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula. When he saw a fire at a distance, he went towards it in the hope that he might get some of it to keep his wife and children warm during the night, or at least get some guidance concerning the direction of his journey. But instead of this it was his good fortune that he found the guidance to the right way.

A fire: It appeared like an ordinary fire, which always betokens the presence of men in a desert or a lonely place. Moses made for it alone, to fetch the wherewithal for making a fire for his family, and perhaps to find some direction as to the way, from the people he should meet there. But it was not an ordinary fire. It was a Burning Bush: a Sign of the Glory of Allah.

From here on, begins the spiritual history of Moses. It was the beginning of his mission. His physical life, infancy, and upbringing are referred to later on, to illustrate another point. Moses, when he grew up, left the palace of Pharaoh and went to the Midianite people, in the Sinai peninsula. He married among them, and was now travelling with his family, when he was called to his mission by Allah. He went to look for a fire for comfort and guidance. He found a higher and holier comfort and guidance. The whole passage is full of portent meaning, which is reflected in the short rhymed verses in the original.
( 11 )   When he came to it, a voice called out: "Moses! 
The Divine call must have sent shudders into Moses for right there all alone, the Mighty Divine Call must have sounded in a manner to catch Moses all by surprise and he must have felt scared and helpless, not knowing what was to become of him in a few moments later.
( 12 )   Indeed, I am your Lord, so remove your sandals. Indeed, you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa.
Probably, it is because of this that the Jews do not say their prayers with their shoes on. The Prophet (peace be upon him), however, removed this misunderstanding, saying: Act in contrast to the practice of the Jews who do not say their prayers with their shoes or leather socks on. (Abu Daud). It does not, however, mean that one must say his prayers with the shoes on, but it is merely to make it lawful to say prayers with shoes on. This is confirmed by another tradition, related by Abu Daud from Amar bin Aas, that he had seen the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying his prayer both with and without the shoes. There are other traditions also to this effect but it should also be kept in mind that there were no carpets, mats, etc. in the mosques in those days, not even in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Mosque. Therefore it would be improper to go with shoes on into the mosques of today which have carpets, mats, etc. However, one may say his prayer on grassy plots or open ground with shoes on.

In general, the commentators are of the opinion that Tuwa was the name of the valley, but according to some, it is the valley that had been made sacred for the time being.
( 13 )   And I have chosen you, so listen to what is revealed [to you].
( 14 )   Verily I am Allah. There is no god beside Me. So serve Me and establish Prayers to remember Me.
This is the real object of Salat. It has been prescribed to remind people that they should not become neglectful of Allah by worldly diversions and that they should remember that man is not an unbridled free being but a servant of Allah. Salat has been prescribed five times a day to remind man of Allah’s presence.

Some people are of the opinion that it means:

Establish Salat, so that I may remember you. Incidentally, according to this verse, if one forgets to offer a prayer in time, he should offer it when he recollects it. This is also supported by a tradition related by Anas: If one forgets to offer a certain prayer at the proper time, he should offer it whenever he recollects this, for there is no other expiation for this omission. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmed). There is another tradition related by Abu Hurairah to the same effect. It was inquired from the Prophet (peace be upon him): What should we do if we remained asleep during the time of prayer? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: There is no sin if one remained asleep. The sin is that one should neglect his prayer intentionally while awake. Therefore if one forgets to offer a prayer or remained asleep, he should offer that prayer on remembering it or on awaking. (Tirmizi, Nasai, Abu Daud).

اِنَّ السَّاعَةَ اٰتِيَـةٌ اَكَادُ اُخۡفِيۡهَا لِتُجۡزٰى كُلُّ نَفۡسٍۢ بِمَا تَسۡعٰى‏ 
( 15 )   Indeed, the Hour is coming - I almost conceal it - so that every soul may be recompensed according to that for which it strives.
The first need is to mend our lives and worship and serve Allah, as in the last verse. The next is to realise the meaning of the Hereafter, when every soul will get the meed of its conduct in this life.

The reality of the Hereafter has been revealed to all prophets, and they were appointed to impart its knowledge to their peoples. Here its object has also been stated. The Hour of Resurrection is destined to come so that everyone should get the recompense in the Hereafter of what he did in this world, and that Hour has been kept secret to fulfill the requirement of the trial. For the one who believes in the Hereafter will always be on his guard against any deviation from the right way, and the one who does not believe in the coming of that Hour will remain engaged in other things, for he will think that he did not see any sign of the coming of the Hour.

Ukhfi may mean either "keep it hidden", or "make it manifest", and the Commentators have taken, some one meaning and some the other. If the first is taken, it means that the exact hour or day when the Judgment comes is hidden from man; if the second, it means that the fact of the Judgment to come is made known, that man may remember and take warning. It seems that both meanings are implied.
( 16 )   So do not let one avert you from it who does not believe in it and follows his desire, for you [then] would perish.
Moses had yet to meet the formidable opposition of the arrogant, Pharaoh and his proud Egyptians, and latter, the rebellion of his own people. In receiving his commission, he is warned of both dangers. This relates to man's own soul: when once the light reaches him, let him hold fast to it lest he perish. He will be beset with dangers of all kinds around him...the worst will be the danger of unbelieving people who seem to thrive on their selfishness and in following their own vain desires!

Verses 17 - 24 Allah chose him as His Rasool and assigned him towards the Pharaoh:
( 17 )   And what is that in your right hand, O Moses?"
This question was not asked for the sake of getting any information, for Allah knew that Moses (peace be upon him) held a staff in his hand. The question was posed with a view to impressing upon him the fact that it was a staff so that he might be mentally prepared to see the miracle which was going to be performed with it.
( 18 )   He said, "It is my staff; I lean upon it, and I bring down leaves for my sheep and I have therein other uses."
Now comes the miracle of the rod. First of all, the attention of Moses himself is drawn to it, and he thinks of the ordinary uses to which he puts it in his daily life.
( 19 )   [Allah] said, "Throw it down, O Moses."
In verse 107 of Surah vii Al-A'raf, where a different word (thu'ban) is used for "snake", and the qualifying adjective is "plain (for all to see)".

فَاَلۡقٰى عَصَاهُ فَاِذَا هِىَ ثُعۡبَانٌ مُّبِيۡنٌ​ ​ ۖ ​ۚ‏ 
(7:107) Thereupon Moses threw his rod, and suddenly it was a veritable serpent.

The scene there is before Pharaoh and his magicians and people: the object is to show the hollowness of their magic by a miracle: the rod appears before them as a long and creeping writhing serpent.

فَاَلۡقٰٮهَا فَاِذَا هِىَ حَيَّةٌ تَسۡعٰى‏ 
( 20 )   So he threw it down, and thereupon it was a snake, moving swiftly.
Here there is a sign to present Allah's power to Moses's mind and understanding: the rod becomes a Haiy (a live snake), and its active motion is what is most to be impressed on the mind of Moses, for there were no other spectators. 
( 21 )   [Allah] said, "Seize it and fear not; We will return it to its former condition. 
( 22 )   And draw in your hand to your side; it will come out white without disease - another sign,
That is, your hand will shine brightly like the sun, but it will not cause any hurt to you. It is strange that the Bible interprets this miracle, saying that his hand was leprous as snow but it was turned again as his other flesh. The Talmud also interprets the miracle in the same way and adds that this was a miracle which was meant for Pharaoh who was suffering from leprosy. It is a pity that the same interpretation has been adopted by our own commentators, though the correct interpretation is the one that has been adopted by us, and many former commentators. Obviously, it is bad taste to attribute to a Prophet the repugnant miracle of leprosy and that, too, before a king in his court.
( 23 )   That We may show you [some] of Our greater signs.( 24 )   Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed."
Moses, having been spiritually prepared now gets his definite commission to go to Pharaoh and point out the error of his ways. So inordinate was Pharaoh's vanity that he had it in his mind to say: "I am your Lord Most High!" (Surah 79. An-Nazi'at, verse  24).

Ruku / Section 2 [25-54]
Verses 25 - 48 Prophet Musa prayed to Allah to open his heart, easy his task and remove the impediment from his speech so that people may understand, what he says Allah granted his request and reminded him about His favors:
( 25 )   [Moses] said, "My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance]
That is, fill my heart with the courage that may enable me to perform the obligations connected with the great mission of a Messenger, and give me the confidence for its fulfillment. Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) prayed for this because he realized the grave responsibilities of the great mission.

The breast is reputed to be the seat of knowledge and affections. The gift of the highest spiritual insight is what he prays for first. [Also see Surah 94. Al-Sharh. verse 1] This was the most urgent in point of time. There are three other things he also asks for: viz. (1) Allah's help in his task, which at first appears difficult to him, (2) the gift of eloquence, and the removal of the impediment from his speech; and (3) the counsel and constant attendance with him of his brother Aaron, whom he loved and trusted, for he would otherwise be alone among the Egyptians.
( 26 )   And ease for me my task
( 27 )   And untie the knot from my tongue
Literally, "Loosen a knot from my tongue".
( 28 )   That they may understand my speech.
Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah for this because he was conscious that he was not a fluent speaker but was slow of speech. He also knew that as a Messenger he would have to be fluent in order to impress Pharaoh and his courtiers. This is confirmed by the Bible (Exodus 4: 10) but the Talmud gives a strange explanation for this impediment in his speech. According to it, when he was a child he burnt his tongue with a live coal to escape punishment from Pharaoh whose crown he had taken off from his head and put it on his own head. The same story has been adopted by many of our commentators though it is absurd on the face of it. Our interpretation is also confirmed by the Quran. The fact is, that at first he was not a fluent speaker and Pharaoh had also taunted him on this impediment. (Surah Az-Zukhruf, Ayat 52). Prophet Moses realized the same for he said: My brother Aaron is more fluent than me, so send him with me as a helper, so that he may support me (with his fluent speech). (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 34). Afterwards this impediment in his speech was removed and he was able to deliver very fluent speeches. This may be testified by his speeches which have been cited both in the Bible and in the Quran for they are masterpieces of eloquence and rhetoric.

Above all, it does not stand to reason that Allah should appoint a lisper or a stammerer or a stutterer as His Messenger. That is why the Messengers have always been the best of mankind in regard to their appearance, personality and capabilities for they had to be most impressive both in their appearance and conduct, so that they could not be made the target of ridicule and contempt by the people because of such personal defects as stammering or stuttering.
( 29 )   And appoint for me a minister from my family -
( 30 )   Aaron, my brother.
Prophet Aaron was three years older than Prophet Moses (peace be upon them). (Exodus 7:7).
( 31 )   Increase through him my strength
Literally, "Strengthen my back with him". A man's strength lies in his back and backbone so that he can stand erect and boldly face his tasks.
( 32 )   And let him share my task
( 33 )   That we may exalt You much
The requests that Moses makes are inspired, not by earthly but by spiritual motives. The motive, expressed in the most general terms, is to glorify Allah, not in an occasional way, but systematically and continuously, "without stint". "The clauses in this verse and the next, taken together, govern all the requests he makes, from verse 25 to verse 32.
( 34 )   And remember You much.
( 35 )   Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing."
The celebration of Allah's praise and remembrance is one form of showing gratitude on the part of Moses for the Grace which Allah has bestowed upon him.
( 36 )   [Allah] said, "You have been granted your request, O Moses.
( 37 )   And We had already conferred favor upon you another time,
Allah recounts the favors He had shown to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) since his birth in order to impress upon him the fact that he had been brought up under divine care right from his birth for the purpose of appointing him as a Messenger.

Here mere references have been made but in Surah 28 Al-Qasas details of the favors have been given.
( 38 )   When We inspired to your mother what We inspired,
The story is not told, but only those salient points recapitulated which bear on the upbringing and work of Moses. Long after the age of Joseph, who had been a Wazir to one of the Pharaohs, there came on the throne of Egypt a Pharaoh who hated the Israelites and wanted them annihilated. He ordered Israelite male children to be killed when they were born. Moses's mother hid him for a time, but when further concealment was impossible, a thought came into her mind that she should put her child into a chest and send the chest floating down the Nile. This was not merely a foolish fancy of hers. It was Allah's Plan to bring up Moses in all the learning of the Egyptians, in order that that learning itself should be used to expose what was wrong in it and to advance the glory of Allah. The chest was floated into the river Nile. It flowed on into a stream that passed through Pharaoh's Garden. It was picked up by Pharaoh's people and the child was adopted by Pharaoh's wife. See Surah 28 Al-Qasas 4-13.
( 39 )   [Saying], 'Cast him into the chest and cast it into the river, and the river will throw it onto the bank; there will take him an enemy to Me and an enemy to him.' And I bestowed upon you love from Me that you would be brought up under My eye.
Pharaoh was an enemy to Allah, because he was puffed up and he blasphemed, claiming to be God himself. He was an enemy to the child Moses, because he hated the Israelites and wanted to have their male children killed; also because Moses stood for Allah's revelation to come.

Allah made the child comely and lovable, and he attracted the love of the very people who, on general grounds, would have killed him.

By making the child Moses so attractive as to be adopted into Pharaoh's household, not only was Moses brought up in the best way possible from an earthly point of view, but Allah's special Providence looked after him in bringing his mother to him, as stated in the next verse, and thus nourishing him on his mother's milk and keeping him in touch with his family.
( 40 )   [And We favored you] when your sister went and said, 'Shall I direct you to someone who will be responsible for him?' So We restored you to your mother that she might be content and not grieve. And you killed someone, but We saved you from retaliation and tried you with a [severe] trial. And you remained [some] years among the people of Madyan. Then you came [here] at the decreed time, O Moses.
We may suppose that the anxious mother, after the child was floated on the water, sent the child's sister to follow the chest from the bank and see where and by whom it was picked up. When it was picked up by Pharaoh's own family and they seemed to love the child, she appeared like a stranger before them, and said, "Shall I search out a good wet-nurse for the child, that she may rear the child you are going to adopt?" That was exactly what they wanted. She ran home and told her mother. The mother was delighted to come and fold the infant in her arms again and feed it at her own breast, and all openly and without any concealment.

The mother's eyes had, we may imagine, been sore with scalding tears at the separation from her baby. Now they were cooled: a phrase meaning that her heart was comforted.

Years passed. The child grew up. In outward learning he was of the house of Pharaoh. In his inner soul and sympathy he was of Israel. One day, he went to the Israelite colony and saw all the Egyptian oppression under which Israel laboured. He saw an Egyptian smiting an Israelite, apparently with impunity. Moses felt brotherly sympathy and smote the Egyptian. He did not intend to kill him, but in fact the Egyptian died of the blow. When this became known, his position in Pharaoh's household became impossible. So he fled out of Egypt, and was only saved by Allah's grace. He fled to the Sinai Peninsula, to the land of the Midianites, and had various adventures. He married one of the daughters of the Midianite chief, and lived with the Medianites for many years, as an Egyptian stranger. He had many trials and temptations, but he retained his integrity of character.
( 41 )   And I produced you for Myself.
( 42 )   Go, you and your brother, with My signs and do not slacken in My remembrance.
We may suppose that Moses had fled alone to the land of Midian, and that he had now come alone (with his family but not with his brother) to Tuwa, as described in verse 10 above. When he was honoured with his mission, and was granted his request that his brother Aaron should accompany him, we may suppose that he took steps to get Aaron to come to him, and their meeting was in Tuwa. Some time may be supposed to have elapsed before they were in Egypt, and then they prayed, and received these directions in their Egyptian home. Aaron was either an elder or a younger brother, we are not told which. In either case he was born when the ban on Israelite new-born babes was not in operation. Moses had been out of touch with him, and it speaks greatly for his family affection that he remembered him and prayed for his comradeship in the most serious spiritual work of his life.
( 43 )   Go, both of you, to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed.
Their mission was in the first instance to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians, and then to lead Israel out of Egypt.

Compare the same phrase in verse 24 above. Having glanced at the early life of Moses we come back now to the time when Moses's actual ministry begins. The earlier personal story of Moses is rounded off.
( 44 )   And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]."
The only two ways of bringing a man to the right way are: (1) To convince him by argument and admonition, or (2) To warn him of the consequences of deviation.

It appears that they implored Allah thus before going before Pharaoh when Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had reached Egypt and Aaron had joined him in the propagation of the mission.
( 45 )  They said, "Our Lord, indeed we are afraid that he will hasten [punishment] against us or that he will transgress."
They were now in Egypt and therefore in the power of the Pharaoh. The local atmosphere called for the greatest courage and firmness on their part to carry out the dangerous mission which had been entrusted to them.
( 46 )   [Allah] said, "Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see.
( 47 )   So go to him and say, 'Indeed, we are messengers of your Lord, so send with us the Children of Israel and do not torment them. We have come to you with a sign from your Lord. And peace will be upon he who follows the guidance.
The Children of Israel were subjected to all sorts of oppression and indignities. They were given hard tasks; their leaders were unjustly beaten; they were forced to make bricks without straw; and they "groaned in bondage" (Exod. v. 6-19. vi. 5).

Allah, in His infinite Mercy, always offers Peace to the most hardened sinners, even those who are warring against Him. But, as stated in the next verse, their defiance cannot go on with impunity indefinitely. The punishment must inevitably come for sin, whether the sinner is great or small.
( 48 )   Indeed, it has been revealed to us that the punishment will be upon whoever denies and turns away.' "
A comparative study of this incident as given in the Bible and the Talmud will show that the Quran does not copy the stories from these books, but gives its own version in order to portray the Messengers in their true glory and dignity. According to the Bible, when God said to Moses (peace be upon him) that He would send him to Pharaoh, Moses (peace be upon him) replied: Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3: 11). God persuaded and encouraged Moses (peace be upon him) by giving him signs but he was still reluctant and said: O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. (Exodus 4: 13). And the Talmud goes even further than this and says that there was an argument between God and Moses (peace be upon him) for seven days that he should become a Prophet but Moses (peace be upon him) did not accept the offer. At this God was angry with him and so made his brother Aaron (peace be upon him) a partner in his Prophethood. Moreover, He deprived the descendants of Moses (peace be upon him) of the office of priesthood and bestowed it on the descendants of Aaron (peace be upon him). These two versions depict Allah to be suffering from human weaknesses and Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) from inferiority complex.

Verses 49 - 54 Dialogue between Musa and Pharaoh:
( 49 )   [Pharaoh] said, "So who is the Lord of you two, O Moses?"
Here the details have been omitted. These have been given in (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayats: 103-108); (Surah Ash- Shuara, Ayats 10-33); (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayats 28-40); (Surah An-Naziat, Ayats 15-25) . As regards to the necessary information about Pharaoh, see Surah Al-Aaraf 7:140.

Pharaoh addressed Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) because he was, in regards to Prophethood, the senior of the two. It is also possible that he deliberately addressed him in order to exploit his impediment in speech, and ignored Prophet Aaron (peace be upon him), who was more fluent.

As regards to the implication of this question of Pharaoh, he meant to say: You say that you have brought a message from my Lord to me. Who is that Lord? You should know that I am the Lord of Egypt and the people of Egypt. In regards to this claim of his, see (Surah An-Naziat, Ayat 24); (Surah Az-Zukhruf, Ayat 51); (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayat 38) and (Surah Ash-Shuara, Ayat 29).

It may also be noted that by this claim Pharaoh did not mean to say that he was the sole deity of his people nor did it mean that none other was worshiped in Egypt. As a matter of fact, he himself based his right of sovereignty on his claim of being the incarnation of the sun god. And we also learn from the history of Egypt that there were many other gods and goddesses. In fact, what he claimed was that he was politically the Lord of not only Egypt but also of the whole of mankind theoretically. Therefore, he would not acknowledge that there was any supreme sovereign over him whose delegate might bring an order to him and demand its obedience from him.
( 50 )   He said, "Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it]."
That is, we acknowledge Him alone as our Lord in every sense. He is our Sustainer, our Maker, our Master, our Sovereign and is Supreme in everything, and there is no other lord in any sense but Him.

This concise sentence needs serious attention. It means that it is Allah alone Who has created everything and given it its distinctive structure, form, capabilities, characteristics, etc.
  • For instance, man has been given the hands and feet which are given the most appropriate structure that was needed for their right functioning.
  • A human being, an animal, a plant, mineral and the like, air, water and light, everything has been given that particular form which was needed for its right functioning in the universe.
  • Then He has guided everything aright to function properly. It is He Who has taught everything the way to fulfill that object for which it has been created. He has taught the ear to hear and the eye to see, the fish to swim and the bird to fly; the earth to grow vegetation and the tree to blossom and bear fruit. In short, He is not only the Creator of everything but also its Guide and Teacher.
Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) employed this concise and meaningful sentence to convey the message to Pharaoh and his people. He not only gave a suitable reply to Pharaoh as to who his Lord was, but also told him why He was his Lord, and how there was no other lord but God. The argument implied in it was this: As Pharaoh and every one of his subjects was obliged to Allah for his human form and could not live even for a moment without the functioning of the different parts of his body which were performing their functions in accordance with the guidance of Allah, so Pharaoh’s claim that he was the lord of the people was absurd, and its acknowledgment by his people that he was their lord, a folly.

Besides this, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) also hinted at the need of Prophethood which was denied by Pharaoh. When Allah guides everything in the universe, He has also to fulfill the need of the guidance of mankind. Whereas the guidance of the animals and birds has been provided by instinct, the guidance of rational human beings has been provided by sending Messengers who appealed to them by rational arguments.
( 51 )   [Pharaoh] said, "Then what is the case of the former generations?"
The question posed by Pharaoh was very subtle. He meant to say: If there is no other lord than the One Who has given a distinctive form to everyone, then what will be the position of our forefathers who had been worshiping other deities since centuries? Were all those people in error? Did all of them deserve torment? Did they all lack common sense? Thus Pharaoh perhaps wanted to give vent to his anger against Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) for showing disrespect to his forefathers. At the same time he also wanted to incite his courtiers and the common people of Egypt against the message of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). And this trick has always been used against the people who propagate the truth and has always proved very effective to incite those people who lack common sense. This same trick has been mentioned here for it was being employed at the very time against the Prophet (peace be upon him) by the people of Makkah.
( 52 )   [Moses] said, "The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a record. My Lord neither errs nor forgets."
This answer is full of wisdom. If Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) had said: Yes, they all lacked common sense and had gone astray and would become the fuel of Hell, this answer, though true, would have served the very purpose Pharaoh had in mind in putting the question. But the answer given by the Prophet was true and it frustrated the trick of Pharaoh as well. His answer was to this effect: Well, those people have now gone before their Lord, and I have no means of judging their deeds and intentions. However, their whole record is safe and secure with Allah, and nothing can escape Him. Allah alone knows how to deal with them. What concerns you and me is our own position and attitude to life. We should be more concerned about our own end than of those who have already passed away into Allah’s presence.
( 53 )   [It is He] who has made for you the earth as a bed [spread out] and inserted therein for you roadways and sent down from the sky, rain and produced thereby categories of various plants.
It is quite obvious that (Ayats 53-55 ) are an addition by Allah to the foregoing answer by Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). There are other instances of this in the Quran that Allah added a few sentences to the speech of someone by way of admonition. Moreover, it is connected not only with the preceding verse but also with the whole reply of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him). (Ayats 50-52).
( 54 )   Eat [therefrom] and pasture your livestock. Indeed, in that are signs for those of intelligence.
That is, those who use their common sense in their search for the truth, find a way to the reality by the help of these signs, which clearly show that the universe has One Lord Who alone is sustaining it, and there is no room here for any other lord.

Here we come to the end of Part I of the exegesis of the surah. The mention of Prophet Musa (Peace be upon him) will continue in Part II as well.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sürah Ta Ha  with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5| 6 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2] 
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources:
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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