Musa (Moses) is the most frequently mentioned person in the Quran. He was born in Egypt about 3,500 years ago and belonged to the tribe of Israel that had migrated to Egypt from Canaan (Palestine) during the time of Yusuf (Joseph). At the time of Musa’s birth, the ruler of Egypt, known as the Pharaoh, oppressed the Israelites, enslaving them and even killing their new-born sons. Hence, to prevent her son from meeting the same fate, Musa’s mother put him in a chest and cast it in River Nile, from where he was picked up by Pharaoh’s household, and Pharaoh’s wife adopted the child. Musa thus had a royal upbringing.
In his youth, Musa mistakenly killed a man, and the fear of punishment and injustice caused him to flee Egypt and settle in Madyan (Midian), where he married. During his return journey alongside his family, eight or ten years later, Musa received his first revelation; Allah spoke directly to him, commanding him to preach to Pharaoh and ask him to free the Israelites from bondage. Allah further granted him several miracles as proof of his prophethood, and later, the Torah was revealed to him.
Musa’s brother, Harun (Aaron), was also granted prophethood and made his assistant, but despite preaching to Pharaoh and his people for many years, they both were dismissed as magicians, and vehemently opposed and threatened. Finally, on Allah’s command, the Israelites, led by Musa, fled Egypt to escape bondage; they were unsuccessfully pursued by Pharaoh and his soldiers who ended up drowning in the Red Sea. The Israelites, however, were repeatedly ungrateful to Allah, and so were deprived of their native homeland of Canaan for another forty years.
- Trust Allah to heal your heart
Musa’s mother, who was inspired by Allah to cast her infant son in the river, felt greatly distressed when she did so. She became even more apprehensive when Pharaoh’s family picked him up from the river, as Allah says, “The heart of Musa’s mother became void…” (28:10) However, she trusted in Allah to save her infant son. Allah not only saved infant Musa from death but also had his mother appointed as his wet nurse in Pharaoh’s palace! “So We restored him to his mother that she might be comforted and not grieve…” (28:13) Just as Allah comforted Musa’s mother, He provides solace to anyone who trusts Him completely.
- No sin is unforgivable
As a young man, Musa intervened in a fight, and killed one of the two men with just a single blow, without intending to. He then became extremely remorseful, asking Allah for forgiveness, and vowing to never repeat his mistake: “My Lord, for the favor You bestowed upon me, I will never be an assistant to the criminals.” (28:17) Allah not only forgave Musa but also later made him a prophet. Allah loves to pardon and overlook our sins, and no wrong is unforgivable in His sight. Turning to Allah with sincerity is all that is required.
- Never belittle the common courtesies
A good human being is always willing to lend others a helping hand. He or she is never too busy or too shy or to be of use to others, and is ready to extend small kindnesses, even to strangers. When Musa was at the well in Madyan, where the shepherds watered their flocks, he saw two women holding back their flocks to avoid mixing with the men out of modesty. Musa immediately offered to water their flocks, thus saving them plenty of time and effort. Such is the attitude praised by Allah. As Prophet Muhammad said, “Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.” (Muslim)
- Honesty reaps the greatest rewards
We all encounter situations in life when telling a lie seems the most convenient course of action; we end up convincing ourselves that the lie will not hurt the other person and so it is okay to utter it. However, the truly trustworthy individuals are those who speak the truth even in the most precarious situations. Musa, for example, could have told the kind old man he met in Madyan that the murder charge against him was false; he, however, narrated the entire incident of how he unintentionally killed a man, and admitted his guilt. Such honesty earned him the respect of the family. As the old man’s daughter said, “O my father, hire him. Indeed, the best one you can hire is the strong and the trustworthy.” (28:26)
- Do not be hesitant in upholding the truth
Many a time, we are hesitant to speak or acknowledge the truth, thinking it might go against us or harm our reputation. However, a courageous person stands for the cause of truth and justice, even if it means putting one’s own life in danger. When the magicians of Pharaoh witnessed the miracle granted to Musa, and realized it was not magic as had been portrayed by Pharaoh, they immediately submitted to Allah, and announced their faith to a stunned public gathering. At this, Pharaoh threatened them, “I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of palm trees!” (20:71) In spite of such merciless threats, the magicians did not renounce their faith, and showed exemplary resolve for the cause of the truth.
- Long for Paradise, not this world
The worldly life is only temporary, and we all shall pass on one day, while the next life will be eternal. For this reason, when faced with a conflict between this life and the next, it is wise to be hereafter-oriented. Do the deeds that shall facilitate you on the Day of Judgement. Pharaoh’s wife was an exemplary woman who went against her tyrant husband to boldly declare faith in Allah. She preferred the blessings of Paradise to her luxurious lifestyle in this world, as she prayed, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds.” (66:11)
- Wealth can be a cause of decline
Wealth is a blessing from Allah as it enables you to live in comfort. Wealth, however, is also a great trial as it brings with it the added responsibility to share your blessings with others, and remain humble and grateful to Allah. Qarun (Korah) was an extremely wealthy, yet miserly, Israelite at the time of Musa. He oppressed his own tribe, and refused to help the needy or recognize Allah’s favor upon him, proudly declaring, “This wealth was given to me on account of the knowledge I possess.” (28:78) Due to his sheer arrogance and excessive love of riches, Allah “caused the earth to swallow him and his home” (28:81), bringing about his eternal downfall.
- Everything happens for a reason
There may be some underlying benefit in a tough situation you encounter, even if it is not visible at the time. This is most perfectly illustrated in the journey Musa took alongside Khidr, who was granted special knowledge by Allah. Khidr made a hole in a boat, killed a boy, and constructed a wall without demanding payment, and Musa objected every time. Yet, there was wisdom in each one of these acts: the damaged boat would be of no use to the tyrant king who wanted to seize it; the boy, who would have harmed his parents, would be replaced by a righteous son; and the wall would guard the treasure belonging to two orphan children. In the same way, there may be some good behind a seemingly regrettable or unredeemable situation in your life. It is thus best to place your trust in Allah.