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The intense Grief of Musa's Mother, and how He was returned to Her

Allah tells us how, when her child was lost in the river, the heart of Musa's mother became empty, i.e., she could not think of any matter in this world except Musa. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu `Ubaydah, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah and others.

﴿ إِن ڪَادَتۡ لَتُبۡدِى بِهِۦ

(She was very near to disclose his (case),) means, because of the intensity of her grief, she almost told people that she had lost a son. She would have disclosed her situation, if Allah had not given her strength and patience. Allah says:

﴿ لَوۡلَآ أَن رَّبَطۡنَا عَلَىٰ قَلۡبِهَا لِتَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ وَقَالَتۡ لِأُخۡتِهِۦ قُصِّيهِ‌ۖ

(had We not strengthened her heart, so that she might remain as one of the believers. And she said to his sister: "Follow him.'') means, she told her daughter, who was older and was of an age to understand things,

﴿ قُصِّيهِ‌ۖ

(Follow him.) means, follow his traces and look for information about him, try to find out about him around the city. So she went out to do that.

﴿ فَبَصُرَتۡ بِهِۦ عَن جُنُبٍ۬

(So she watched him from a far place (secretly),) Ibn `Abbas said, "Off to the side.'' Mujahid said, "It means she looked from afar. Qatadah said: "She started to look at him as if she was not really interested.'' When Musa had settled into the house of Fir`awn, after the king's wife had begun to love him and asked Fir`awn not to kill him, they brought to him the wet nurses who were to be found in their household, and he did not accept any of them, refusing to take milk from them. So they took him out to the marketplace, hoping to find a woman who would be suitable to nurse him. When (his sister) saw him in their arms, she recognized him, but she did not give any indication nor did they suspect her. Allah says:

﴿ وَحَرَّمۡنَا عَلَيۡهِ ٱلۡمَرَاضِعَ مِن قَبۡلُ

(And We had already forbidden foster suckling mothers for him,) Because of his honored status with Allah, it was forbidden by divine decree. It was decreed that no one should nurse him except his own mother, and Allah caused this to be the means reuniting him with his mother so that she could nurse him and feel safe after having felt such fear. When (his sister) saw that they were confused over who should nurse the child,

﴿ فَقَالَتۡ هَلۡ أَدُلُّكُمۡ عَلَىٰٓ أَهۡلِ بَيۡتٍ۬ يَكۡفُلُونَهُ ۥ لَڪُمۡ وَهُمۡ لَهُ ۥ نَـٰصِحُونَ

(she said: "Shall I direct you to a household who will rear him for you, and look after him in a good manner'') Ibn `Abbas said: When she said that, they had some doubts about her, so they seized her and asked her, How do you know these people will be sincere and will care for him'' She said to them, "They will be sincere and will care for him because they want the king to be happy and because they hope for some reward.'' So they let her go. After what she said, being safe from their harm, they took her to their house and brought the baby to his mother. She gave him her breast and he accepted it, so they rejoiced and sent the glad tidings to the wife of Fir`awn. She called for Musa's mother, treating her kindly and rewarding her generously. She did not realize that she was his real mother, but she saw that the baby accepted her breast. Then Asiyah asked her to stay with her and nurse the baby, but she refused, saying, "I have a husband and children, and I cannot stay with you, but if you would like me to nurse him in my own home, I will do that.'' The wife of Fir`awn agreed to that, and paid her a regular salary and gave her extra gifts and clothing and treated her kindly. The mother of Musa came back with her child, happy that after a time of fear Allah granted her security, prestige, and ongoing provision. There was only a short time between the distress and the way out, a day and night, or thereabouts -- and Allah knows best. Glory be to the One in Whose hands are all things; what He wills happens and what He does not will does not happen. He is the One Who grants those who fear Him, a way out from every worry and distress, Allah said:

﴿ فَرَدَدۡنَـٰهُ إِلَىٰٓ أُمِّهِۦ كَىۡ تَقَرَّ عَيۡنُهَا

(So We restored him to his mother, that her eye might be comforted,) means, by him,

﴿ وَلَا تَحۡزَنَ

(and that she might not grieve,) means, for him.

﴿ وَلِتَعۡلَمَ أَنَّ وَعۡدَ ٱللَّهِ حَقٌّ۬

(and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true.) meaning, `We had promised her to return him to her and to make him one of the Messengers.' When he was returned to her, she realized that he was one of the Messengers, so as she brought him up, she treated him both as a child (with kindness) and as a Messenger (with respect).

﴿ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَهُمۡ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ

(But most of them know not.) means, they do not know the wisdom of Allah in His actions and their good consequences, for which He is to be praised in this world and the Hereafter. For a thing may happen that people do not like, but its consequences are good, as Allah says:

﴿ وَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تَكۡرَهُواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَهُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّڪُمۡ‌ۖ وَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تُحِبُّواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ۬ لَّكُمۡ‌ۗ

(and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you) (2:216).

﴿ فَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تَكۡرَهُواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَيَجۡعَلَ ٱللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيۡرً۬ا ڪَثِيرً۬ا

(it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good) (4:19).

﴿ وَلَمَّا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ ۥ وَٱسۡتَوَىٰٓ ءَاتَيۡنَـٰهُ حُكۡمً۬ا وَعِلۡمً۬ا‌ۚ وَكَذَٲلِكَ نَجۡزِى ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ وَدَخَلَ ٱلۡمَدِينَةَ عَلَىٰ حِينِ غَفۡلَةٍ۬ مِّنۡ أَهۡلِهَا فَوَجَدَ فِيہَا رَجُلَيۡنِ يَقۡتَتِلَانِ هَـٰذَا مِن شِيعَتِهِۦ وَهَـٰذَا مِنۡ عَدُوِّهِۦ‌ۖ فَٱسۡتَغَـٰثَهُ ٱلَّذِى مِن شِيعَتِهِۦ عَلَى ٱلَّذِى مِنۡ عَدُوِّهِۦ فَوَكَزَهُ ۥ مُوسَىٰ فَقَضَىٰ عَلَيۡهِ‌ۖ قَالَ هَـٰذَا مِنۡ عَمَلِ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ‌ۖ إِنَّهُ ۥ عَدُوٌّ۬ مُّضِلٌّ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّى ظَلَمۡتُ نَفۡسِى فَٱغۡفِرۡ لِى فَغَفَرَ لَهُ ۥۤ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلۡغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَآ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَىَّ فَلَنۡ أَكُونَ ظَهِيرً۬ا لِّلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ

(14. And when he reached maturity, and was complete, We bestowed on him Hukm and knowledge. And thus do We reward the doers of good.) (15. And he entered the city when its people were unaware: and he found there two men fighting, -- one of his party, and the other of his foes. The man of his (own) party asked him for help against his foe, so Musa struck him with his fist and he died. He said: "This is of Shaytan's doing, verily, he is a plain misleading enemy.'') (16. He said: "My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.'' Then He forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.) (17. He said: "My Lord! For that with which You have favored me, I will nevermore be a helper of the criminals!'')

How Musa killed a Coptic Man

Having described Musa's beginnings, Allah then tells us that when he reached maturity, and was complete in stature, Allah gave him Hukm and religious knowledge. Mujahid said that this means prophethood.

﴿ وَكَذَٲلِكَ نَجۡزِى ٱلۡمُحۡسِنِينَ

(And thus do We reward the doers of good.) Then Allah describes how Musa reached the status that was decreed for him, that of Prophethood and speaking to Allah, as a direct consequence of killing the Coptic, which was the reason why he left Egypt and went to Madyan. Allah says:

﴿ وَدَخَلَ ٱلۡمَدِينَةَ عَلَىٰ حِينِ غَفۡلَةٍ۬ مِّنۡ أَهۡلِهَا

(And he entered the city when its people were unaware.) Ibn Jurayj narrated from `Ata' Al-Khurasani, from Ibn `Abbas, "That was between Maghrib and `Isha'.'' Ibn Al-Munkadir narrated from `Ata' bin Yasar from Ibn `Abbas, "That was in the middle of the day.'' This was also the view of Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, As-Suddi and Qatadah.

﴿ فَوَجَدَ فِيہَا رَجُلَيۡنِ يَقۡتَتِلَانِ

(and he found there two men fighting,) meaning, hitting one another and struggling with one another.

﴿ هَـٰذَا مِن شِيعَتِهِۦ

(one of his party, ) meaning, an Israelite,

﴿ وَهَـٰذَا مِنۡ عَدُوِّهِۦ‌ۖ

(and the other of his foes.) meaning, a Coptic. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Muhammad bin Ishaq. The Israelite man asked Musa, (peace be upon him) for help, and Musa took advantage of the fact that people were not paying attention, so he went to the Coptic man and

﴿ فَوَكَزَهُ ۥ مُوسَىٰ فَقَضَىٰ عَلَيۡهِ‌ۖ

(so Musa struck him with his fist and he died.) Mujahid said, "This means he punched him with his fist.'' And then he died.

﴿ قَالَ

(He said) refers to Musa.

﴿ وَدَخَلَ ٱلۡمَدِينَةَ عَلَىٰ حِينِ غَفۡلَةٍ۬ مِّنۡ أَهۡلِهَا فَوَجَدَ فِيہَا رَجُلَيۡنِ يَقۡتَتِلَانِ هَـٰذَا مِن شِيعَتِهِۦ وَهَـٰذَا مِنۡ عَدُوِّهِۦ‌ۖ فَٱسۡتَغَـٰثَهُ ٱلَّذِى مِن شِيعَتِهِۦ عَلَى ٱلَّذِى مِنۡ عَدُوِّهِۦ فَوَكَزَهُ ۥ مُوسَىٰ فَقَضَىٰ عَلَيۡهِ‌ۖ قَالَ هَـٰذَا مِنۡ عَمَلِ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ‌ۖ إِنَّهُ ۥ عَدُوٌّ۬ مُّضِلٌّ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّى ظَلَمۡتُ نَفۡسِى فَٱغۡفِرۡ لِى فَغَفَرَ لَهُ ۥۤ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ هُوَ ٱلۡغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَآ أَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَىَّ

("This is of Shaytan's doing, verily, he is a plain misleading enemy.'' He said: "My Lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.'' Then He forgave him. Verily, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful. He said: "My Lord! For that with which You have favored me,) meaning, `what You have given me of prestige, power and blessings -- '

﴿ فَلَنۡ أَكُونَ ظَهِيرً۬ا

(I will nevermore be a helper of the criminals!) `those who disbelieve in You and go against Your commands.'

﴿ فَأَصۡبَحَ فِى ٱلۡمَدِينَةِ خَآٮِٕفً۬ا يَتَرَقَّبُ فَإِذَا ٱلَّذِى ٱسۡتَنصَرَهُ ۥ بِٱلۡأَمۡسِ يَسۡتَصۡرِخُهُ ۥ‌ۚ قَالَ لَهُ ۥ مُوسَىٰٓ إِنَّكَ لَغَوِىٌّ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬ فَلَمَّآ أَنۡ أَرَادَ أَن يَبۡطِشَ بِٱلَّذِى هُوَ عَدُوٌّ۬ لَّهُمَا قَالَ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ أَتُرِيدُ أَن تَقۡتُلَنِى كَمَا قَتَلۡتَ نَفۡسَۢا بِٱلۡأَمۡسِ‌ۖ إِن تُرِيدُ إِلَّآ أَن تَكُونَ جَبَّارً۬ا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَمَا تُرِيدُ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُصۡلِحِينَ

(18. So he became afraid, looking about in the city, when behold, the man who had sought his help the day before, called for his help (again). Musa said to him: "Verily, you are a plain misleader!'') (19. Then when he decided to seize the man who was an enemy to both of them, the man said: "O Musa! Is it your intention to kill me as you killed a man yesterday Your aim is nothing but to become a tyrant in the land, and not to be one of those who do right.'')

How the Secret of this Killing became known

Allah tells us that when Musa killed that Coptic,

﴿ فِى ٱلۡمَدِينَةِ خَآٮِٕفً۬ا

(he became afraid in the city) meaning, of the consequences of his action,

﴿ يَتَرَقَّبُ

(looking about) means, turning around and watching out, waiting for the consequences of his action to befall him. He went out and about, and saw the man who sought his help the day before, fighting with another Coptic. When Musa passed by him, he called for his help again, against this other Coptic. Musa said to him:

﴿ إِنَّكَ لَغَوِىٌّ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬

(Verily, you are a plain misleader!) meaning, `you obviously lead people astray and are very evil.' Then Musa intended to attack that Coptic, but the Israelite -- because of his own cowardice and weakness -- thought that Musa wanted to hit him because of what he had said, so he said, in self-defence --

﴿ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ أَتُرِيدُ أَن تَقۡتُلَنِى كَمَا قَتَلۡتَ نَفۡسَۢا بِٱلۡأَمۡسِ‌ۖ

(O Musa! Is it your intention to kill me as you killed a man yesterday) Nobody except him and Musa, (peace be upon him) knew about it, but when the other Coptic heard this, he took the news to Fir`awn's gate and told him about it. So Fir`awn came to know of it, and he became very angry and resolved to kill Musa, so he sent people after him to bring him to him.

﴿ وَجَآءَ رَجُلٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَقۡصَا ٱلۡمَدِينَةِ يَسۡعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰمُوسَىٰٓ إِنَّ ٱلۡمَلَأَ يَأۡتَمِرُونَ بِكَ لِيَقۡتُلُوكَ فَٱخۡرُجۡ إِنِّى لَكَ مِنَ ٱلنَّـٰصِحِينَ

(20. And there came a man running, from the farthest end of the city. He said: "O Musa! Verily, the chiefs are taking counsel together about you, to kill you, so escape. Truly, I am one of the good advisers to you.'')

﴿ وَجَآءَ رَجُلٌ۬

(And there came a man) He is described as being a man because he had the courage to take a different route, a shorter route than those who were sent after Musa, so he reached Musa first and said to him: "O Musa,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱلۡمَلَأَ يَأۡتَمِرُونَ بِكَ

(Verily, the chiefs are taking counsel together about you.),'' meaning, `they are consulting with one another about you.'

﴿ لِيَقۡتُلُوكَ فَٱخۡرُجۡ

(to kill you, so escape.) means, from this land.

﴿ إِنِّى لَكَ مِنَ ٱلنَّـٰصِحِينَ

(Truly, I am one of the good advisers to you.)

﴿ فَخَرَجَ مِنۡہَا خَآٮِٕفً۬ا يَتَرَقَّبُ‌ۖ قَالَ رَبِّ نَجِّنِى مِنَ ٱلۡقَوۡمِ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ وَلَمَّا تَوَجَّهَ تِلۡقَآءَ مَدۡيَنَ قَالَ عَسَىٰ رَبِّىٓ أَن يَهۡدِيَنِى سَوَآءَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَلَمَّا وَرَدَ مَآءَ مَدۡيَنَ وَجَدَ عَلَيۡهِ أُمَّةً۬ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ يَسۡقُونَ وَوَجَدَ مِن دُونِهِمُ ٱمۡرَأَتَيۡنِ تَذُودَانِ‌ۖ قَالَ مَا خَطۡبُكُمَا‌ۖ قَالَتَا لَا نَسۡقِى حَتَّىٰ يُصۡدِرَ ٱلرِّعَآءُ‌ۖ وَأَبُونَا شَيۡخٌ۬ ڪَبِيرٌ۬ فَسَقَىٰ لَهُمَا ثُمَّ تَوَلَّىٰٓ إِلَى ٱلظِّلِّ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّى لِمَآ أَنزَلۡتَ إِلَىَّ مِنۡ خَيۡرٍ۬ فَقِيرٌ۬

(21. So he escaped from there, looking about in a state of fear. He said: "My Lord! Save me from the people who are wrongdoers!'') (22. And when he went towards Madyan, he said: "It may be that my Lord guides me to the right way.'') (23. And when he arrived at the water of Madyan, he found there a group of men watering, and besides 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.'') (24. So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: "My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!'')