This article is a summary of takeaways from Ustaz Dr Mohamed Fatris Bakaram’s Tafsir Lecture at Darul Makmur Mosque on 16th February 2020. Summaries of previous lectures on Surah Taha can be found here. This lecture is a continuation of last week’s lecture of Surah Taha verses 9 to 16.
The Fundamental Seven Commands
Let us begin with a recap of the previous lecture. We previously heard of the story of Prophet Musa AS who had seen a fire in the middle of the night while crossing the desert with his family. He AS headed for the fire in hopes of finding warmth or guidance. It was there that he heard a voice. Allah SWT talked to Prophet Musa AS and instructed him to remove his shoes as he was on the sacred valley of Tuwa.
It was there that Allah SWT gave Prophet Musa AS seven commands:
(1) Acknowledge that there is no god but Allah
(2) Enslave yourself to Allah and worship Him
(3) Perform Salat
(4) Remember Allah
(5) Believe in the day of Qiyamat
(6) Do good deeds while you can
(7) Have Istiqamah; Stay consistent and firm against distractions
Prophet Musa AS had lived in the household of Prophet Shuaib AS for 10 years, under his guidance and mentorship. Prophet Musa AS was sure to already have known of these injunctions prior to this conversation. He would already have been practicing the seven commands given above. Allah SWT mentioned them in the conversation as a reminder to Prophet Musa AS.
These commands were given, not specifically for Prophet Musa AS. They were in fact given universally to all Prophets and their people. The same words of advice apply to us, the followers of the final prophet, Prophet Muhammad SAW.
Prophet Musa AS’ Miracles
وَمَا تِلْكَ بِيَمِينِكَ يَا مُوسَىٰ
“And what is that in your right hand, O Musa?” [20:17]
Allah did not ask this question because He does not know. No, Subhanallah – Allah is far from that. Allah SWT brings Prophet Musa AS’s attention to his staff in this verse in preparation for what is to come next.
قَالَ هِيَ عَصَايَ أَتَوَكَّأُ عَلَيْهَا وَأَهُشُّ بِهَا عَلَىٰ غَنَمِي وَلِيَ فِيهَا مَآرِبُ أُخْرَىٰ
He said, “It is my staff. I lean on it, and I beat down leaves with it for my sheep, and I have many other uses for it.”
قَالَ أَلْقِهَا يَا مُوسَىٰ
Allah said, “Throw it down, O Moses!”
فَأَلْقَاهَا فَإِذَا هِيَ حَيَّةٌ تَسْعَىٰ
So he threw it down, and thereupon it was a snake, moving swiftly.
قَالَ خُذْهَا وَلَا تَخَفْ ۖ سَنُعِيدُهَا سِيرَتَهَا الْأُولَىٰ
(Allah) said, “Pick it up, and be not scared. We shall restore it to its former state.
وَاضْمُمْ يَدَكَ إِلَىٰ جَنَاحِكَ تَخْرُجْ بَيْضَاءَ مِنْ غَيْرِ سُوءٍ آيَةً أُخْرَىٰ
And put your hand under your armpit, it will come out ˹shining˺ white, unblemished, as another sign,
لِنُرِيَكَ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا الْكُبْرَى
so that We may show you some of Our greatest signs.
Prophet Musa AS was given two miracles (i.e. the enchanted staff and a white hand) after he fulfilled the seven conditions commanded by Allah. Other prophets were also gifted mu’jizat (or miracles) of their own. Prophet Suleiman AS (Solomon) was given the gift of speech to animals and jinn. This gift was exclusively for him. No one after him inherited this power. Prophet Daud (David) AS was given the gift of bending metal. This power was reserved only for Him. Prophet Musa AS’ staff was only usable by him. All of the mu’jizats of the prophets of the past were temporary and ended when they passed away.
However, the mu’jizat of Prophet Muhammad SAW, the Holy Qur’an, remains until today. The Qur’an was inherited by the companions and generations that followed. It did not cease to exist the moment the Prophet SAW passed away. Our Prophet’s miracle is special. And this book, the Qur’an, will only serve as a reminder and strength for us if we are able to apply the seven commands given by Allah SWT previously.
Prophet Musa AS’ Mission
اذْهَبْ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَىٰ
“Go to Firaun (Pharaoh), for he has indeed transgressed all bounds.” [20:24]
Prophet Musa AS had intended to return to his homeland with his family to live comfortably. He had not asked to be confronted with such a heavy task on the way home. He knew who Firaun was, he grew up in Firaun’s household. He understood perfectly well how challenging this task was going to be. And yet Prophet Musa AS did not immediately give up or think the task impossible, he remained courageous.
Prophet Musa AS’s Requests
قَالَ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي
Musa said: “O my Lord! expand me my breast;
وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي
and make my task easy,
وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي
And untie the knot from my tongue
so that they may understand my speech.
Prophet Musa AS made a du’a as preparation for his task. This is the du’a that many of us have put into practice in our daily lives. We have been taught by our teachers and parents to recite it often before we enter the examination hall, before any presentation at work, before a driving test etc. Many of us don’t realise that this du’a came from Prophet Musa AS.
Prophet Musa AS was known for having a speech impediment. Some scholars say that he had a stutter or a lisp, but we do not know for certain. What we do know is that he had difficulty speaking clearly. He made du’a to ask Allah SWT to alleviate this impediment so that he may be able to execute his task effectively.
وَاجْعَل لِّي وَزِيرًا مِّنْ أَهْلِي
And appoint for me a minister from my family
Harun, (Aaron) my brother.
اشْدُدْ بِهِ أَزْرِي
Strengthen me (further) through him,
وَأَشْرِكْهُ فِي أَمْرِي
and make him share my task,
Some Quranic translators translate the word “Wazeer” in verse 29 as ‘helper’. The word ‘minister’ is more suitable for this verse. A helper only assists the ruler. Prophet Harun AS did more than that. There were occasions when he was put in charge of his people in Prophet Musa AS’ absence. He was the right-hand man or second-in-command of Prophet Musa; He had a certain level of power and authority when delegated by Prophet Musa AS.
Knowing the potential difficulty of the mission that he was about to take on, Prophet Musa AS had made four requests. Through these verses, Allah is teaching us of the important pre-requisites we need to prepare or obtain before setting off on any important task. Let us briefly go through them.
(1) Calmness at heart
Before we begin anything, we need clarity – clarity of thought and of heart. We have to be certain of what we are doing and be in the mental state of peace. Do not let whatever is on your mind make you feel stuck.
(2) Ease in affairs
Secondly, we need to ask for our affairs to be eased and hindrances to be removed. We are weak and limited as human beings. Regardless of our skills, talent and capabilities, how much we can achieve is restricted by whatever barriers are in our way. Once that is overcome, we are able to carry out the task efficiently.
(3) Clarity in speech
Thirdly, tasks can only be achieved with effective communication. We need to have the skill of delivering and relaying messages effectively, listening to others successfully and being able to identify and reach out to the right audience. Even in our workplaces today, we have strategic planning retreats and organisational excellence initiatives. What is clear is that, regardless of how amazing the objectives, mission and vision of the company are, when there is no clear and effective communication, there is no support, cohesion and cooperation in the team.
(4) A right-hand man
Lastly, you need supporters. Even if you have the best skills and talents, you need to acknowledge that you cannot accomplish things on your own. Even with his mu’jizat, Prophet Musa AS knew that he was unable to confront Firaun by himself; He needed support. Likewise, whether at home or at work, we should not always take things on independently. Have the humility to reach out to others in order to work together as a team.
Summary of Verses 9 to 32
These are the equipment and reinforcements that Prophet Musa AS had requested for from Allah SWT in order to prepare him for his difficult mission to face Firaun:
- He had already fulfilled the Seven Foundational Commands:
- Remembrance of Allah
- Belief in Qiyamat
- He had his Mu’jizat (miracles) to give him strength
- He made four requests, asking Allah SWT for:
- Calmness at heart
- Ease in his affairs
- Clarity in speech
- A right hand man
Building a Righteous Family
Let us apply what we have learnt into the context of building a righteous family.
As the head of a household, first we need to look at whether we have met the fundamental pre-requisites of a righteous household. Ask yourselves these questions: Do we strongly believe that Allah is One and that only He can get us out of difficulty? Do we instil in our spouses and children the desire to be at constant service to Allah? Do we maintain our Salat? Do we remember Allah always? Are we prepared for the small Qiyamat (i.e. death) to come? Do we constantly strive while we can, to do good deeds? Are we consistent in our deeds and character?
Next, we look at our strength. We don’t need the enchanted staff of Prophet Musa AS. Our strength comes from Allah, through the mu’jizat of Rasulullah SAW; We get our strength from the Qur’an.
As we become present to our mission or tasks at hand (i.e. to protect and build a family that is pleasing to Allah), remember the four requests of prophet Musa AS.
Firstly, ensure that we have peace of mind and peace in our hearts. Do not keep secrets from one another or hold grudges and resentment against your family members. Ask yourselves truthfully if you accept and have Redha for whoever Allah has chosen to be our spouse and children. Secondly, ask Allah for ease so that He may make it easy for us to fulfil our responsibilities and obligations to our family.
Thirdly, ensure that we have effective communication between members of the household. Many cases of family collapses happen as a result of communication breakdown. We need to master the skill of expressing our views and concerns with care. Do not go into the extremes of (1) saying whatever is on your mind without ‘filtering’ your words or (2) not saying anything in fear of the potential reaction. While the former is sure to start arguments and cause discord, the latter is not any better – people who bottle up their emotions often end up exploding in rage eventually. We need to find a clear balance between the two extremes.
Lastly, we should strive to constantly be pillars of support for one another. Our spouses were not sent as burdens for us, they were meant to complement and complete us. We ask Allah for them to strengthen us and for us to strengthen them. Despite the differences and disagreements between spouses, we need to work as partners in order to accomplish the tasks and fulfil our mission together.
And that is how we apply the lessons learnt from this conversation of Prophet Musa AS with Allah SWT into our lives.
There has been a lot of noise in recent days questioning the actions of the asatizah (religious teachers) and MUIS, claiming that we are following the government’s orders because we do not have enough Tawakkal or trust in Allah’s plans. I am not going to go into depth in responding to this issue, seeing that many of our asatizah have already given their responses.
One thing I would like to mention is that there is a crucial takeaway that we can get from this Story of Prophet Musa AS in Surah Taha. You see, Prophet Musa AS had fulfilled all seven fundamental commands, had been equipped with the miracles to strengthen him and even made requests for reinforcements that had been granted to him by Allah. He had made all the necessary preparations and followed all of Allah’s commands to confront Firaun. Despite all of these, did Prophet Musa AS eventually succeed in calling Firaun to Islam? No. When Firaun drowned as a disbeliever in the Red Sea, did Prophet Musa AS complain saying that he had wasted all his time, energy and effort on the task? No. Allah SWT knew from the very start that Firaun was not going to accept Islam, and yet He still commanded Prophet Musa to carry out the task. Despite knowing how impossible the task was, Prophet Musa AS still went forth to carry it out. That is true faith.
Remember that our faith is that Allah is Almighty. He Plans and He Decides. All we have to do is to put in effort and follow the commands of Allah SWT and the teachings of Rasulullah SAW. We know that Allah is able to protect us and we do put all of our trust in Him. However, this faith and trust should not preclude us from putting in effort.
Prophet Muhammad SAW has taught us that in the situation where an infectious disease is spreading, we need to take special precaution. I love all of you deeply and I too, miss physical contact. I would love to hug each one of you here. But we’ve been told that the COVID-19 virus is spread by contact with droplets from infected individuals or contaminated surfaces. As such, we are taking precautions, as per the sunnah, by avoiding shaking hands with one another. I am not angry at the people who are angry at me, but I do hope you all understand and truly seek your cooperation.
May Allah make us amongst the seekers of knowledge who find ease in learning and applying what we have learnt in our lives. Ameen.
Please keep up the Salat Hajat and du’as so that Allah may continue to protect us from the illness that is now. Take care.
Summary by: Arina Adom
Arina Adom is a lover of learning who takes on the world with an open mind. Resourceful and adaptable, always ready to take on new challenges. Comfortable working with diverse groups of people, yet able to work independently. Thrives under pressure. Currently seeking a meaningful career that enables me to impact lives directly and bring about positive changes in the lives of others in the community.
Arina graduated with a degree in Science ( Hons ), Life Science from NUS and is currently a Research Assistant at Evolutionary Biology Lab ( NUS ). She is currently taking a diploma in Quran and Sunnah Studies from Al Zuhri.
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