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 17 to 32.
كَيْ نُسَبِّحَكَ كَثِيرًا
“So that we may glorify You much,
And remember You much, [20:33-34]
The Outcome of a Believer’s Du’a
We have gone through the first part of Prophet Musa AS’ du’a in the previous session. As a recap, we learnt the story of Prophet Musa AS who, upon finding out about his mission to bring the message of Islam to Firaun, made a du’a to Allah SWT asking for reinforcements. Prophet Musa requested for Allah SWT to expand his breast (grant him calmness at heart), ease his affairs, untie the knot from his tongue and grant him a right-hand man (his brother Prophet Harun AS).
One would think that the expected outcome from the supplication would be success in completing the mission given by Allah. Shouldn’t Prophet Musa AS have ended his du’a with “… so that we may be able to execute our task effectively.”? Instead, prophet Musa asked that the result of the supplication be that he and his brother may glorify and remember Allah. Prophet Musa AS was clear that he could only take responsibility for whatever he could do. The outcome of his efforts is completely up to Allah.
Let me give you an illustration. We make du’a often saying, “O Allah, protect my family from harm, grant my children success, give us happiness in this world and the next.”. When we make such a du’a, we are hoping that Allah grants us peace, success and happiness. However, we know that what we ask for may not be guaranteed. Allah decides what He gives, to whomever He wills it for. What we can be sure of, is that when we do receive it, we have the power to choose whether we want to be grateful and remember Allah or to be ungrateful and disobedient to Him. That is a choice that Allah has given us to make. We know that if we choose right, In syaa Allah, Allah will fulfil our du’as and give us what is best for us.
There is a difference between how a believer works and how a disbeliever works. For someone who does not have Iman in their hearts, there is no Allah in their plans. These people see the objectives and plan a strategy to get there. They see the resources needed, and ensure they get those resources. Only when those resources have been obtained, will they start taking action to carry out the plan in order to achieve the objectives.
Believers are not like that. Believers see the objectives, the plan and the resources that they need, and they request for what they need from Allah. But the main objective they have in mind is to work hard through their worship for Allah. They strive to be grateful servants and firm in their worship regardless of what Allah gives them. They hope that Allah might answer their prayers as a result of the worship they do for Him.
Prophet Musa AS’ success is not judged by Allah based on whether or not Firaun accepts Islam. Firaun’s acceptance of Islam is in Allah’s Hands. Rather, Prophets Musa and Harun AS will be judged based on whether or not they are grateful servants of Allah SWT. Similarly, Allah does not measure our success based on what results we produce. Instead, He looks at what efforts we have put in to serve Him.
إِنَّكَ كُنتَ بِنَا بَصِيرًا
“Verily! You are of us Ever a Well-Seer.” [20:35]
At the end of the day, we need to remember that whatever that we do, regardless of what happens, the only one who sees all of our efforts and work is Allah. Allah knows whether or not we have put in our 100% effort to complete our tasks. He knows whether or not the success of the mission is due to our efforts. Allah alone will judge and decide our success in completing the mission.
As a servant of Allah, we should feel embarrassed if Allah were to answer all of our prayers and give us our every desire. This is especially so if we know for a fact that we have not been putting in effort to serve Him to the best of our ability. We forget him often, are careless in our worship, ungrateful of the blessings we’ve been given- Allah knows all of this and yet He still answers our prayers. Allah knows how we are as human beings. He knows that wealth, comfort and ease will distract us away from Him. He gives us gifts not because He is pleased with us, but he gifts these to us as a test. Those who fail the test end up dying in a state of disbelief and ingratitude. We ask Allah to protect us from being amongst those who are ungrateful and half-hearted in our service towards Him. Ameen.
Recap of Prophet Musa’s Story
قَالَ قَدْ أُوتِيتَ سُؤْلَكَ يَا مُوسَىٰ
He said, “You have been granted your request O Musa! [20:36]
وَلَقَدْ مَنَنَّا عَلَيْكَ مَرَّةً أُخْرَىٰ
“And surely We had shown You favour before, [20:37]
Allah SWT reassures Prophet Musa AS that his prayers will not go unanswered. He SWT reminds Prophet Musa AS of the blessings which had been bestowed upon him up to that fateful day.
إِذْ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمِّكَ مَا يُوحَىٰ
When We inspired your mother with that which We inspired. [20:38]
This verse did not mean that Prophet Musa AS’s mother received revelation. In fact, the word “Wahyu” has been used on bees in Surah An-Nahl. It is not restricted to prophetic revelation but can also refer to other forms of inspiration from Allah.
أَنِ اقْذِفِيهِ فِي التَّابُوتِ فَاقْذِفِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ فَلْيُلْقِهِ الْيَمُّ بِالسَّاحِلِ يَأْخُذْهُ
عَدُوٌّ لِّي وَعَدُوٌّ لَّهُ
Saying: Put him into a chest, then cast it down into the river, then the river shall throw him on the shore; there shall take him up one who is an enemy to Me and enemy to him, [20:39]
To give a bit of context to the story, we need to mention that at the time of Prophet Musa’s birth, there were two groups of people that existed under Firaun’s ruling. The first are the Egyptians, of the same race and lineage as Firaun himself. The second are the Israelites (Bani Israel). If you recall the story of Prophet Yusuf AS, after he was given a position of leadership in Egypt, Prophet Yusuf AS invited his father and siblings to come and live with him in Egypt where they were honoured as guests. The family of Prophet Yusuf settled down comfortably and the children of that generation, the people of Prophet Ya’qub AS (who was also known as Israel), became what became known as Bani Israel or the Israelites. After the death of Prophet Yusuf AS, the Israelites lost their status of honour and were enslaved and oppressed by the Egyptians. This oppression continued up to the time of Prophet Musa AS.
We have previously mentioned that the story of Prophet Musa AS begins with Firaun receiving a prophecy foretelling his imminent downfall by a man from amongst the Israelites. During that time, Firaun had declared that all baby boys from amongst the Israelites were to be killed. Prophet Musa AS’ mother was terrified at the birth of Prophet Musa AS, fearing the impending slaughter of her new-born. It was then that Allah SWT inspired her to place him in a chest and to release the chest in the Nile River. It was made known to her that the chest would arrive in the hands of Firaun, where he would be kept safe from harm. All of these were blessings from Allah SWT’s limitless Mercy. Allah SWT reminded Prophet Musa AS that His Blessings have been present for Prophet Musa throughout his life.
وَأَلْقَيْتُ عَلَيْكَ مَحَبَّةً مِّنِّي وَلِتُصْنَعَ عَلَىٰ عَيْنِي
and I cast down upon you love from Me, and that you might be brought up before My eyes; [20:39]
Amongst the blessings given to prophet Musa was love from Allah cast upon him AS. What this means is that, by Allah’s Will, everyone who came across Prophet Musa AS, even as a new-born, found themselves loving him deeply. This was so much so that even Firaun, who feared the rise of an unknown Israelite boy, found himself feeling love and affection for baby Musa AS, an Israelite baby. In spite of his fear and hatred towards the Israelites, Firaun said yes to his wife when asked for the permission to keep the baby. Allah SWT placed love in the heart of Firaun, so much so that he couldn’t help but love Prophet Musa AS.
As human beings, it is only natural for us to want to be loved. What more to be loved by the people we love? As believers, we need to ensure that we do not get so caught up with chasing the love of people that we forget Allah’s Love for us. I have mentioned in previous lectures regarding the following hadith qudsi:
Abu Hurairah RA reported:
The Messenger of Allah SAW said, “When Allah loves a slave, He calls out Jibril and says, “I love so-and-so; So love him.”. Then Jibril loves him. After that he (Jibril) announces to the inhabitants of the heavens, “Allah loves so-and-so; So love him.”. And the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) also love him and then make people on earth love him”.
Remember this hadith. If you take care of Allah’s love for you, in syaa Allah, Allah will take care of people’s love for you. Serve Allah in humility and obedience so that you may attain Allah’s love. If there are still people who hate you even then, surrender that to Allah. There is a likelihood that their hearts are not clean and hence the love of people whom Allah loves is unable to enter their hearts. Leave them to Allah, you do not need their love. Furthermore, we need to remember that there is a second part of this hadith:
And when Allah hates a slave, He calls Jibril and says, “I hate so-and-so, so hate him.” Then Jibril also hates him. He (Jibril) then announces amongst the inhabitants of heavens, “Verily, Allah hates so-and-so, so you also hate him.” Thus they also start to hate him. Then he becomes the object of hatred on the earth also.
Do not be concerned about whether people will love or hate you. Leave that affair to Allah. Focus on attaining the Love of Allah and you will receive the love that is good for you.
On Trials and Tribulations
Prophet Musa AS was separated from his mother as a new-born. One can imagine how difficult it must be for a mother to lose her beloved child. To make things worse, Prophet Musa AS was a child blessed with the gift of love from anyone who comes across him. We can only imagine how difficult it must have been for his mother to let him go. Allah SWT tells us what happens next in the next verse.
إِذْ تَمْشِي أُخْتُكَ فَتَقُولُ هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ مَن يَكْفُلُهُ فَرَجَعْنَاكَ إِلَىٰ أُمِّكَ
كَيْ تَقَرَّ عَيْنُهَا وَلَا تَحْزَنَ
When your sister went and said: Shall I direct you to one who will take charge of him? So We brought you back to your mother, that her eye might be cooled and she should not grieve [20:40]
Prophet Musa AS’ sister observed the chest as it floated down the river. She watched and saw how, upon settling down in the palace of Firaun, Prophet Musa AS cried because of hunger. He cried on and on, rejecting any milk offered to him by any milk-mother. It was then that she came in to offer the help of someone who is able to breastfeed a child. She mentioned that her mother had milk because she was still breastfeeding her one-year old son, Harun AS. That was how Prophet Musa AS was reunited with his mother and her grief and pain was removed.
وَقَتَلْتَ نَفْسًا فَنَجَّيْنَاكَ مِنَ الْغَمِّ
and you killed a man, then We delivered you from the grief, [20:40]
We have mentioned the incident mentioned in this verse previously. Prophet Musa grew up to become strong and healthy. At the age of 12, he was already a formidable man. One day, someone from amongst the Israelites asked him for help, saying that he was being oppressed and abused. Prophet Musa AS came to his aid and hit the alleged abuser, an Egyptian man. Because of his strength, even in his young age, Prophet Musa AS accidentally killed the man upon the first hit. In his panic and fear of being caught, Prophet Musa AS fled to Madyan (Midian). Allah SWT protected him from prosecution and granted him protection through Prophet Shuaib AS.
and We tried you with (a severe) trying [20:40]
In this next part of the Verse, Allah SWT states that He tested Prophet Musa AS with intense tests. The word used here is “fitnah”. In the Arabic language the word fitnah carries multiple meanings. The first is a ‘false accusation’, this meaning is also carried for the same word in the Malay language. The second meaning is ‘test’ or ‘trial’. What trials did Prophet Musa AS have to face?
As a young man, Prophet Musa AS fled in fear, leaving behind his beloved foster and biological family. He lost everything that he owned and was chased by the military. He had to cross the sea and walk thousands of kilometres through thick and thin in order to arrive at Madyan. He worked under a stranger, Prophet Shuaib AS, for about a decade in order to earn a living and get married. His heart yearned to be back at home in Egypt with his family. These were trials for him.
However, if you refer to verse 37, we see that Allah says “And surely We had shown You favour before” and then follows it with a list of blessings or favours which had been sent to Prophet Musa AS. There were so many: his mother being inspired to keep him safe in a chest and placed into the river, his being adopted by the royal family, his being given love from Allah, his sister proposing a milk-mother for him, his reunion with his birth mother, his being safe from prosecution and sorrow after killing a man by accident… these were all clearly blessings from Allah SWT. Why is it that in verse 40, Allah SWT includes that He “tried (Musa) with other tests” in the list of blessings, before mentioning the blessing of safety in Madyan? Why would these tests be considered one of the blessings given by Allah?
The lesson we learn from this is that life is filled with blessings, not restricted to blessings that appear as good. The trials that we face are also considered as blessings for us. These trials, regardless of how painful, heavy and impossible they may seem to bear, if handled well by believers are actually blessings from Allah SWT. The pain and difficulty that Prophet Musa AS was given were exactly the trials that he needed to build his character up in order to become the man he needed to be to confront Firaun and lead his people out of Egypt.
Similarly, we need to look at how we view the trials given to us by Allah. Do we regard them as merely pain and inconveniences? Or do we consider them as blessings from Allah? We need to realise that the trials given to us by Allah are actually a form of training given by Him SWT to prepare us for whatever bigger challenges that we might face in the future. Every trial that we encounter is a practice for us to take on to increase our reliance on Him. Trials are a method through which Allah SWT trains, prepares and educates us so that we may become better servants of Allah, strengthen the Iman in our hearts and wipe away any arrogance. If life was just easy and smooth for us, then we may become arrogant and proud, looking down on others and thinking that we do not need Allah in our life.
Even our beloved children, for whom we have invested our lives and efforts, can become trials for us. Some of us may have multiple good kind-hearted children and find that one of them is rebellious and difficult to deal with. While the other children may be seen as clear blessings from Allah, the disobedient child too, is a blessing from Allah. He may be the test that ensures that we do not forget Allah in thinking that life is perfect and complete because Allah has given us all we need. The difficult child could be an invitation from Allah for you to spend the early hours of the morning in Tahajjud prayer, seeking forgiveness for your own weaknesses in educating the child, asking for guidance and aid in teaching the child, asking Allah to not hold you to account for your failure to fulfil your responsibility as the child’s parent.
Do not be a person who only complains and sighs whenever tests arise. Do not become resigned and cynical thinking that life is just darkness and difficulty because of the trials you face. Surrender your problems to Allah SWT and seek His guidance to help you pull through them.
فَلَبِثْتَ سِنِينَ فِي أَهْلِ مَدْيَنَ ثُمَّ جِئْتَ عَلَىٰ قَدَرٍ يَا مُوسَىٰ
Then you stayed for years among the people of Madyan; Then you came here as pre-destined, O Musa. [20:40]
And I have chosen you for Myself.” [20:41]
Allah had decided upon this meeting at the Valley of Tuwa far ahead of time. All of the events in Prophet Musa’s life were specially arranged to lead him to that very moment in conversation with Allah. Prophet Musa AS had been specially selected for this mission by Allah. All of the blessings given and tests undergone had been sent by Allah specifically to train and prepare him for this mission he was about to embark upon. Allah SWT was the one who protected, educated and groomed Prophet Musa AS to ensure that he was fit for this role and ready to undertake his mission.
Likewise for us, we need to decide who we want to decide our life for us. Who do we want to give full power to decide our fate and our future? Whom do we want to serve? For whom do we work, play, cry, laugh and breathe? Choose to live your life for Allah alone and nobody else. Only Allah has the Power to give you love, ease, comfort, happiness and peace- nobody else can. So give your all to Allah.
May this knowledge be one that is filled with Barakah and that continues to benefit us in this world and the next. May Allah give us the wisdom to realise that the magnitude of the blessings that we’ve been given by Him. Much of what we ask for we receive, and even that which we do not ask for we receive. Whenever Allah SWT takes something from us, He gives us something better in return. There may have been things that we have asked for which we may not have received, but Allah gives us things that are much better than we could have imagined. So say “Alhamdulillah ‘alaa kulli haal” and thank Allah for everything you get, regardless of how good or bad they may seem. May we become grateful servants who strive our best to put in effort and do our best to serve Him.
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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