The Story of Moses and Aaron (Musa and Haroon)
Imam Ibn Kathir Ad-Dimashqi
eBook: Stories of the Prophets
The pharaoh who ruled Egypt was a tyrant who oppressed the descendants of Jacob (pbuh), known as the children of Israel (Bani Israel). He used every means to demean and disgrace them. They were kept in bondage and forced to work for him for small wages or nothing. Under this system the people obeyed and worshipped the pharaoh, and the ruling class carried out his orders, thereby authorizing his tyranny and crazy whims.
The pharaoh wanted the people to obey him only, and to believe in the gods of his invention. Perhaps, during that time, there were many classes of people who did not believe in or practice polytheism; however, they kept this to themselves and outwardly did as they were expected to do, without revolting or revealing themselves to anyone.
Thus, successive dynasties came to Egypt and assumed that they were gods or their representative or spokesmen.
Years passed, and a despotic king, who was adored by the Egyptians, ruled Egypt. His king saw the children of Israel multiplying and prospering. He heard them talking about a vague vision that one of Israel' s sons would dethrone the pharaoh of Egypt. Perhaps this vision was only a daydream that persisted within the hearts of the persecuted minority, or perhaps it was a prophecy from their books.
Another tradition states that it was Pharaoh himself who had the vision. Ibn 'Abbas narrated: "Pharaoh saw in his vision a fire, which came from Jerusalem and burned the houses of the Egyptians, and all Copts, and did not do harm to the children of Israel. When he woke up, he was horrified. He then gathered his priests and magicians and asked them about this vision. They said: 'This means a boy will be born of them and the Egyptian people will perish at his hands.' That is why Pharaoh commanded that all male children of the children of Israel be killed."
Either way, this vision reached the ears of the Pharaoh. He then issued a decree to slay any male child that would be born to the children of Israel. This was carried out until the experts of economics said to Pharaoh: "The aged of the children of Israel die and the young are slaughtered. This will lead to their annihilation. As a result, Pharaoh will lose the manpower of those who work for him, those whom he enslaves, and their women whom he exploits. It is better to regulate this procedure by initiating the following policy: males should be slaughtered in one year but spared to live the next year." Pharaoh found that solution to be safer economically.
Moses's mother was pregnant with Aaron (pbuh) in a year that boys were spared; thus she gave birth to the child publicly and safely. During a year in which boys were to be slain, she gave birth to Moses (pbuh); thus his birth caused her much terror. She was afraid he would be slain, so she nursed him secretly.
Allah the Almighty revealed: These are Verses of the manifest Book (that makes clear truth from falsehood, good from evil, etc.). We recite to you some of the news of Moses and Pharaoh in truth, for a people who believe (those who believe in this Quran, and in the Oneness of Allah). Verily, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people sects, weakening (oppressing) a group (children of Israel) among them, killing their sons, and letting their females live. Verily, he was of the Mufsideen (those who commit great sins and crimes, oppressors, tyrants, etc.).
And we wished to do a favor to those who were weak (and oppressed) in the land, and to make them rulers and to make them the inheritors, and to establish them in the land, and We let Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts receive from them that which they feared. And We inspired the mother of Moses, saying: "Suckle him (Moses), but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve. Verily! We shall bring him back to you, and shall make him one of (Our) Messengers." [Ch 28: 2-7 Quran].
No sooner had the divine revelation finished that she obeyed the sacred and merciful call. She was commanded to make a basket for Moses. She nursed him, put him into the basket, then went to the shore of the Nile and threw it into the water. Her mother's heart, the most merciful one in the world, grieved as she threw her son into the Nile. However, she was aware that Allah was much more merciful to Moses than to her, that He loved him more than her. Allah was his Lord and the Lord of the Nile.
Hardly had the basket touched the water of the Nile than Allah issued His command to the waves to be calm and gentle while carrying the child would one day be a prophet. She instructed her daughter to follow the course of the basket and to report back to her. As the daughter followed the floating basket along the riverbank, she found herself right in the palace grounds and saw what was unfolding before her eyes.
The basket came to rest at the riverbank, which skirted the king's palace. The palace servants found the basket with the baby and took it to the Pharaoh and his queen. When the queen beheld the lovely infant, Allah instilled in her a strong love for this baby. Pharaoh's wife was very different from Pharaoh. He was a disbeliever; she was a believer. He was cruel; she was merciful. He was a tyrant; she was delicate and goodhearted. She was sad because she was infertile and had hoped to have a son. Hardly had she held the baby than she kissed him.
Pharaoh was much amazed when he saw his wife hugging this baby to her breast. He was much astonished because his wife was weeping with joy, something he had never seen her do before. She requested her husband: "Let me keep the baby and let him be a son to us."
Almighty Allah said; Then the household of Pharaoh picked him up, that he might become for them an enemy and a cause of grief. Verily! Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts were sinners. And the wife of Pharaoh said; "A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he maybe of a benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son." And they perceived not (the result of that). [Ch 28:9 Quran]
The queen summoned a few wet nurses to suckle the baby Moses, but he would not take any of their breasts. The queen was distressed and sent for more wet nurses. Moses's sister was also worried, as her baby brother was 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 basket. 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 narrated: And the heart of the mother of Moses became empty (from every thought, except the thought of Moses). She was very near to disclose his (case, the child is her son), had We not strengthened her heart (with Faith), so that she might remain as one of the believers. And she said to his (Moses's) sister: "Follow him." So she (his sister) watched him from a far place secretly, while they perceived not.
And We had already forbidden (other) foster suckling mothers for him, until she (his sister came up and ) said: "Shall I direct you to a household who will rear him for you, and sincerely they will look after him in a good manner?"
So did We restore him to his mother, that she might be delighted, and that she might not grieve, nor that she might know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of them know not. [Ch 28:10-13 Quran]
As the child was put to her breast, he immediately started suckling. Pharaoh was astonished and asked; "Who are you? This child has refused to take any other breast but yours."
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