By Dr A Q Khan
December 19, 2016
If one goes through all the volumes of the Masnavi by Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, one notices that he has discussed every imaginable topic – the Almighty, the prophets, djinns, human beings, animals and many more. Of the many prophets, he only discussed Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), Hazrat Musa (AS), Hazrat Isa (AS) and Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) – peace be upon them. In my last column, I discussed what was written about Hazrat Ibrahim (AS). In this column, I would like to write about Hazrat Musa (AS).
Since very few Pakistanis read the Quran translated into a language they understand, most of them don’t have true knowledge about what is written about Islam, the prophets and divine edicts. In these columns I try to write about our religious heritage and the golden principles that have been laid out.
Maulana Rumi has discussed the birth of Hazrat Musa (AS), his upbringing in the Pharaoh’s palace, his being taken care of by his own mother, his prophethood, dialogues with the Pharoah, the tryst between him and the Pharaoh, the defeat of Pharaoh’s magicians and many other incidents. Rumi has frequently referred to Quranic verses, especially Surah Taha, which contains the story of Hazrat Musa (AS) and the Pharaoh. Sura Taha also mentions the journey of Hazrat Musa (AS) and his clan and seeing fire far away on the mountain.
In this verse, the Almighty addresses Hazrat Musa (AS) in these words: “Has the story of Musa reached you? When he saw a fire he said to his family, ‘Hold on! I have just perceived a fire; perhaps I will bring a brand from it for you or I will find some guidance at the fire about the way to follow’.” (Explanation: This happened when Musa (AS), after years of exile in Midain, was on his way back to Egypt accompanied by his wife whom he had married there. It appears that this occurred on a winter night. Hazrat Musa (AS) was crossing the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula when he saw a fire at some distance. He decided to venture there in the hope that he would either be able to obtain some fire that would keep his family warm during the night, or at least gain directions for the journey ahead. Ironically, he went to that spot expecting to find something ordinary and commonplace – the way to his destination in this world – only to find a way that was far more valuable – the way of success and felicity in the Hereafter.)
“When he came to it, a voice called out: ‘Musa! Verily I am your Lord! Take off your shoes. You are in the sacred valley, Tuwa! I Myself have chosen you; therefore, give ear to what is revealed. Verily I am Allah. There is no god beside Me. So serve Me and establish prayers to remember Me. The hour of resurrection is coming. I have willed to keep the time of its coming hidden so that everyone may be recompensed in accordance with his effort. Let him who does not believe in it and follows his lust not turn your thought away from it, lest you are ruined. And what is in your right hand, O Musa?’
“Musa answered, ‘This is my staff. I lean on it (when I walk) and with it I beat down leaves for my flock, and I have many other uses for it.’ He said, ‘Musa, throw it down.’ So he threw it down, and lo! It was a rapidly moving snake. Then He said, ‘Seize it and have no fear. We shall restore it to its former state. And place your hand in your armpit, it will come forth shining white without blemish. This is another Sign of Allah, for We shall show you some of Our greatest Signs. And go to [the] Pharaoh now for he has transgressed all bounds’.” (20:9-24) (Explanation: although Hazrat Musa (AS)’s hand would become as bright as the sun, this would happen without causing him any harm.)
After the above-mentioned verses, Maulana Rumi mentions the divine edict: “Indeed, there is ease (comfort) after hardship. Most certainly there is ease after hardship.” (94:5,6)
Rumi further points out that “when Musa advanced towards the burning bush, the bush said, I am the water of Kausar. Take off thy shoes and come. (20:12) Fear not my fire for I am sweet water. Good fortune and the seat of honour are yours. You are a lustrous pearl, a ruby of the mine, the soul of place and placelessness, you are without equal in this age, how can other beings compare with you?” (Divan 45: A 1:6)
Rumi mentions another Quranic account of the life of Hazrat Musa (AS) and often refers to it as the epiphany on Mount Sinai. “The Quran relates that when Musa came to the place appointed by Allah, he asked Allah to reveal Himself so that he could see Him face to face. Allah replied, ‘Thou shalt not see Me but look upon the mountain, if it remains firm in its place, then thou shalt see Me. And when Allah revealed himself to the mountain, He crushed it to dust.’ Musa fell down unconscious and when he recovered his senses, he said, ‘Glory to the Almighty Allah – To Him I turn in repentance and I am the first of believers’.” (7:144-145)
Maulana Rumi says that in the revelations of Allah, hidden things are revealed by means of their opposites. Allah certainly has no opposite and He remains hidden. ‘The light of Allah (Nur) has no opposite within existence by means of which it might be made manifest. Therefore, our eyes cannot see Him but He sees everything’ (6:104). He asks us to understand this from Hazrat Musa (AS) at Mount Sinai.
Rumi also describes the arguments between Musa and the Pharaoh, interspersed with his own explanations. However, the whole episode has been explained in such simple and eloquent terms in the Quran that further explanations are hardly necessary.