A Brief Life Sketch of Prophet Moses

A Brief Life Sketch of Prophet Moses (Kenneth Moakan) As a Muslim, I do not feel that this subject is about a stranger; rather, it is a cardinal belief of Muslims to believe in and accept all the prophets of God, and as such, Moses being an honoured Prophet of God, to whom we, as Muslims, believe that God had revealed to him the Torah. He, therefore, commands our respect, adoration, affection and attention. He is held in very high reverence by more than 75% of the world’s population. Moses, who is believed to have been the pivotal centre around which ludaism revolves, occupies a unique position among the Founders of Religions. Unlike others who are also believed to have been the Founders of Religions and who are also being revered by those who claim to be their followers and the Muslims, Moses has the distinction of being also revered and held in high esteem by another religion, which is Christianity. So we find that Moses is held in the greatest of respects by the followers of three of the world’s greatest religions. Moses was born of Israelitish descent at a time when the rulers of the land were afraid about the growth and possible strength and might of the Children of Israel. They were also apprehensive because it was foretold that a Redeemer was expected to be born during that time in the House of Israel. The rulers of Egypt, the country in which Moses was born, being fearful that this numerical growth of the Israelites and the possibility of a Redeemer being born amongst the captive people, instituted a calculated and determined system of affliction upon the helpless Children of Israel, which they thought would suppress their growth, strength and hope of being redeemed and gaining their freedom from the serfdom into which they were being ruthlessly subjected. Seeing that the task-masters affliction was ineffective in suppressing the Israelites, the Pharaoh gave orders to the Hebrew mid-wives that “If it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. ” (Ex. 1:16). The Hebrew mid-wives, being afraid of God, did not do as they were commanded, rather they informed the Pharaoh: A BRIEF LIFE SKETCH OF PROPHET MOSES “The Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the mid-wives come in unto them.” (Ex. 1:19). 31 Not getting the desired co-operation from the Hebrew mid-wives, the Pharaoh proclaimed: “That every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.” (Ex. 1:22). It was at this critical juncture in the history of the Israelites that Moses was born in the House of Levi in the reign of Rameses 11. His mother being fearful of the orders of the Pharaoh, hid him for some time and unable to keep him under such conditions built a receptacle mentioned in Exodus 2:3 as follows: “And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bullrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.” The Holy Ouran confirms that Moses was cast into the river. It says: “And we revealed to the mother of Moses saying, ‘suckle him; and when thou fearest for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve; for we shall restore him to thee, and shall make him one of the messengers.’ ” (28:8). The Holy Ouran, like the Bible, states that the sister of Moses observed from afar what transpired after Moses was cast into the river. (Holy Ouran 28:8 and Exodus 2:4). The Bible states that Moses was reared by the daughter of the Pharaoh: “And he became her son.” (Ex. 2:10). On the other hand, the Holy Ouran declares: “And Pharaoh’s wife said, ‘He will be a joy ofthe eye, for me and for thee. Kill him not. Haply he will be useful to us, or we may adopt him as a son.” (28:10). However, Moses was reared in the household of the Pharaoh and was loved very dearly by the Pharaoh, his family and the people at large for his conscientious treatment of all. He lived a princely life and was entrusted with responsible undertakings by the Pharaoh. When he attained full strength and maturity, God granted him wisdom and knowledge (Holy Ouran 28:15). Being reared in the household of the most powerful monarch of the time, Moses must have perforce, had the best possible tutors in the then current 32 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS sciences, and from the Holy Quran we find that in his early youth he was among those who do good (28: 15). From both the Holy Quran (28: 16) and the Bible (Ex. 2:11-12) it is apparent that his physical stature and development was of a very high degree. The inference referred to here, is the death of an Egyptian which was caused as a result of a hit from Moses. Though the Holy Quran and the Bible are silent as to the reason of the fight between the Hebrew, whom Moses sought to assist and the Egyptian, we learn from the Jewish Encyclopedia under “Moses” that the Egyptian had raped an Israelite woman and it is apparent that the fight ensued as a result of that incident to which Moses involuntarily became a third party. At some point in time, Moses came to know of his Israelitish descent and coupled with the incident which led to the death of the Egyptian, had to flee. He braved the fierce desert and travelled to Midian where he found refuge in the House of Jethro to whose daughter – Zipporah – he was married. Jethro being an old man, sought the services of his son-in-law for a nominal period of eight years to a maximum of ten, on his own accord. Jethro initiated this, after witnessing the honesty and integrity of Moses and being a man of God in his own right, Jethro perceived in Moses a great religious figure. Moses, as we had pointed out before, had the unique privilege of being associated with the most powerful monarch of the day, through whom he must have acquired temporal knowledge and gained physical strength and to be associated with the God-fearing and righteous Jethro from whom he must have acquired spiritual strength. As agreed he tended the flocks of Jethro and fulfilled his obligations. With the culmination of the period of his contract, Moses was called by God Almighty to lead the Children of Israel out of the misery and bondage to which they were subjected to by the Pharaoh. The Israelites had lost their freedom and thus they became a subject race, to the extent that their very individuality was threatened with extinction; but God having covenanted with them, again fulfilled His part by raising Moses to deliver them out of their bondage and oppression which reached its zenith under the hands of the tyrannical Pharaohs. With the help of his eloquent brother Aaron, Moses went into the dens of the Pharaoh and delivered the message of the Lord to the Children of Israel, who readily accepted him. Moses and Aaron also went to the Pharaoh and his chiefs to deliver to them the message of the Lord. By signs, miracles and cogent arguments, Moses demanded the release of the Children of Israel out of their bondage and misery. Despite witnessing all these the Pharaoh refused to let the Children of Israel have their freedom. He treated the signs and miracles as a form of enchanted sorcery and challenged Moses to a duel with his chief magicians. The magicians were completely A BRIEF LIFE SKETCH OF PROPHET MOSES 33 overwhelmed with the signs and miracles which God showed at the hands of Moses, that they succumbed to the belief of the One True God. This was a direct challenge to the audacity of the Pharaoh, who ordered that their hands and feet on alternate sides be cut off as a prelude to their crucifixion, which they gladly and willingly submitted to with the confidence of the sure knowledge that they will be returning to their Lord. A few moments before their conversion and ultimate crucifixion, they were materialistically minded, seeking only their reward with the Pharaoh, but faith, indeed, being a great power and the worker of wondrous miracles, caused them to spurn the overtures of their former masters, while only seeking the pleasure of God. From the Bible it emerges that the people of Egypt were stricken with a plague of the first-born of both man and beast immediately before the Children of Israel under Moses left Egypt for the mass exodus. They were, therefore, commanded to observe a feast of unleavened bread. They were spared death from the plague and thus the Ordinance of the Passover was instituted amongst them. F!”om the Bible and the Holy Quran, there also emerge, that Moses took the Children of Israel by night out of the land of Egypt and as God had commanded, crossed the Red Sea at the time of the ebb-tide, while being hotly pursued by the Pharaoh and his hosts. When the Pharaoh attempted to overtake them, the tide’s course began to change. The Pharaoh and his hosts were trapped as the high tide began to rise rapidly. This was all God’s work, a miracle which He showed for His servant Moses. The Holy Quran brings out the phenomenon, that when the Pharaoh observed that his efforts were dying before his very eyes and seeing death staring him in the face, expressed belief in the following words: “I believe that there is no God but He in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of those who submit to Him.” (10:91). So God preserved his body, as the Holy Quran states: “So this day we will save thee in thy body alone that thou mayest be a sign to those who come after thee.” (10:93). It is remarkable that after a lapse of over 3000 years the body of the Pharaoh has been discovered and is preserved. This statement of the Quran is in contrast to the Biblical account and the discovery of the preserved body of the Pharaoh proves the truth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace, as a true Prophet of God and the Holy Quran as the very word of God. 34 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Historians, however, are at variance as to the exact place from where Moses crossed the Red Sea into Canaan. Some are of the view, that he crossed from Goshen, while others assert that he passed by the Gulf of Timsah, while there are still others who think that he went further north and going around Zoan crossed near the Mediterranean Sea, but what is more probable, is that having left the capital of the Pharaoh, they went north-east to the gulf of Timsah and finding the net -work of gulfs barring their way, turned south and crossed near the town of Suez. From available historical data, it seems probable that the Exodus took place around 1230B.C. in the reign of Merenptah II (1234-1214B.C.). After having successfully crossed the Red Sea from the tyranny of the Egyptians, the Children of Israel under Moses breathed a sigh of relief at their newly gained freedom. Being a subject race for some’time, they became lethargic and in order to shed their indolence which crept over them during the long period of captivity, they were somehow made to live in the arid and barren wilderness, in order to become more attuned to the realities of life. During this period, their arrogance waxed hot against Moses and his Lord for bringing them out of the bondage of the Pharaoh, into a life of trials and tribulations. They made some demands upon Moses which seemed utterly unreasonable; Moses prayed for them and God answered his prayers by providing them with adequate food and water. During their sojourn, they had to fight the Amalekites over whom Moses and the Children of Israel were victorious. (Ex. 17:8-16). God then gave Moses the Law, wherein it is believed is contained the Ten Commandments. An entire legal code and a judicial system was instituted. (Ex. 18:13-26). Some foods were made lawful, while some were prohibited. (Lev. 11:2-47). Moses, therefore, was thus a Law-giver unto the Children of Israel. The first five Books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – though very much questionable, is ascribed to Moses. The Teachings of Moses, as contained in the aforementioned five books, can safely be summarised as purely monotheistic in nature. Moses was informed about three manifestations of God’s glory. We read: “And he said, the Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came with ten thousand saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them.” (Deut. 33:2). The first of these three manifestations appeared from Sinai through Moses. We read in Exodus 19:20 the following: “And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.” A BRIEF LIFE SKETCH OF PROPHET MOSES 35 The other two manifestations of God’s glory occurred through Jesus and the Holy Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace. It is, therefore, manifestly clear that Moses found great favour from his Lord and has thereby attained to a high station in the realm of spirituality. This is borne out in Deuteronomy 34:10 which says: “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” According to Deuteronomy 34:5-6 Moses lived 120 years and died in the land of Moab where he was buried: “But no man knowest his sepulchre unto this day.” In laying the Foundation Stone of the first Mosque to be built in Australia by the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, the Supreme Head of the Movement, Hazrat Ameerul Mominin Khalifatul Masih IV, while speaking about Moses, referred to a building erected during the time of Moses by his opponents, as mentioned in the Holy Quran to wit: “And Pharaoh said, 0 chiefs, I know of no god for you other than myself. So burn me bricks of clay, 0 Haman, and build me a tower that I may, by climbing it, have a look at the God of Moses; for I think that he is a liar.” (28:39). Comparing it with the one built by Abraham and his son Ishmael at Mecca for the worship of the One True God and known as the Ka’aba, he said: “No materialistic philosophy can ever explain how a poor and lonely Moses triumphed over the great Egyptian pharaoh who knew of no God other than himself. How indeed can this man Moses, born of lowly parents, ever think of defeating the mighty Pharaoh? Not a vestige of the tower built by the Pharaoh Minfattah now remains – a tower which was built with the sole purpose of exploring the existence of the God of Moses. Strangely, structures built fifteen generations before Minfattah still stand but the one he so arrogantly built to investigate the God of heaven is, today, conspicuous by its absolute absence; it has too completely mingled with dust to have ever been built at all. “But regardless of where and when this building was built, how tall it was and when it was destroyed, one thing is certain – that a powerful King, with all the worldly might at his command, suffered an ignominious defeat at the hands of a humble man of God. The civilisation he represented has been obliterated. His culture has become a thing of the past. His arrogance suffered such a mortal 36 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS blow and his claim to Godhood was so entirely demolished that there is not one person today in the whole wide world who would like to be ascribed to him, let alone recognise his claim to Godhood. But Moses the servant of Allah is alive even today. He was humble yet he attained such an exalted station as could not have been conceived by the wildest imagination of the Pharaoh. The Mosaic claim is today acknowledged by the three greatest religions of the world. They remember him with deep respect and reverence. With the passage of time his eminence instead of waning will continue to grow and expand. “It is in this context of such historic facts that the Holy Quran draws our attention to the conclusion that material values when compared with the spiritual are unreal and transient: they are shadows and not substantial things.” Much more could have been written about the Prophet Moses, believed to have been the propounder of ludaism. I am fully conscious that I have not been able to do justice to the life of such a great one, as Moses was, but many a consideration stand in the way for an exhaustive treatment or even a fraction of a survey being attempted, which could not by any stretch of imagination, claim to be adequate or complete in any aspect. What I have done is only a brief sketch of one who combined in his personality the loftiest of ideals with the highest of achievements. Moses occupies a unique position in the history of religions. He was one of those great and revered personalities who appear at periodic intervals and not only leave a deep impression on their own generation, but also give a direction of purpose, which continues to regulate the lives of coming generations for centuries therafter. Such was Moses, the Prophet of God, Redeemer of the Children of Israel and the mainstay of ludaism. And our last prayer is: “All praise belongs to Allah Lord of all worlds. Amen.”