Archive for the ‘Moses’ Category

Answers to quizzes 19-25

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

19. Noah (PBUH) to his son who remained a disbeliever and tried to escape the Great Flood by taking shelter in a high mountain. Verse 11:42.

20. Prophet Shu`ayb (Jethro)’s daughter. She recommended Moses (PBUH) to her father as a hired hand for he is “strong and trustworthy.” Verse 28:26.

21. Righteous man Luqman preaching to his son. Verse 31:18.

22. Prophet Saalih (Mesoselah), PBUH, to his destroyed people who refused to believe in his message. Verse 7:79.

23. Young Abraham (PBUH) to the idols in his city’s temple. Subsequently, he axed them all, but the biggest one, to make the point to his people that these statues they worship cannot even defend themselves. Verses 37:91-92.

24. Pharaoh’s sorcerers, impressed by the magic performed by Moses. They included his brother Aaron too, although Aaron is not mentioned performing any magic. Verse 20:63.

25. Joseph (PBUH) after the wife of the nobleman kept pursuing him for an illicit affair. Verse 12:33.

Facing up to a Pharaoh

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

I just discovered first hand that reading the Quran is a journey. Some of the passages are so powerful that I actually slept all day one day.

I know I am going through a tough time but this time reading the Quran has been a drastically different experience.

Musa (ra) (Moses) had a staff. He had his brother (ra)…What staff can I hold onto?

What did Hagar hold on to? Her husband, Abraham (PBUH), told her he’s been commanded by God to leave her and their only son, Ishmael, who was still a baby, in a desert in the middle of nowhere. Her reply was, “God ordered you? Then He will not abandon us.”

I know you may be thinking that Hagar, peace be upon her, was in a completely different league than the rest of us. True, but she reached that plateau only because of her faith. She was an ordinary woman, a maid, with no material means. Because of what she did next, God sprang the Zamzam Well and that arid, vacant desert became Mecca. Since her time, millions of people have echoed her footsteps every year (during the pilgrimage).

I sure hope that you do not have to face a pharaoh anytime soon. Also remember that Aaron was not always very helpful to his brother.

One of the ways the Prophet (PBUH) described the Quran was, “Its wonders never cease.” Indeed, if you read the Quran and you get the feeling that you’re reading it for the first time, then rejoice, for God is bringing you closer to Him by giving you new insight into His word.

Funny thing I just saw a video on Hagar. I have always admired her faith.

What I have also experienced are the immediacies of receiving blessings. I see that Allah subhana wa taala does not hold back. When we ask He gives.

I am always about the inner journey. And the section of the Path that I am walking upon demands that I spend time on the quest. In a sense I am learning that we are always exactly where He wants us to be, at any given moment. Maybe that realization is the fountain of youth. It takes the stressors and anxieties away.

I do not think I will meet a pharaoh anytime soon, Besides, it is not the meeting that is momentous. It is the gathering of the faith leading to the meeting. On a deeper level don’t we meet mini-pharoah’s every day. They may not be as powerful but the sheer arrogance of their personalities and their inability to prostrate to the Lord of the Universe and persistence in sinning ways.

(May Allah subhana wa taala reward you immensely. Your words are always a source of strength and comfort)

The journey is indeed inner more than it is outer. The outer journey is perhaps easier because it is aided by other people. We are encouraged by parents, teachers and preachers to pray, fast, be charitable, exercise good manners and say and do good. We see immediately the effect of the good we do to others and it makes us happy and fulfilled. The reward is felt right away.

But the inner journey we make alone. And it is an arduous journey. God says in the holy Quran, “O man, you are toiling toward your Lord then meeting Him!” (84:6) The journey is hard because Satan and our desire keep interfering with it.

Answers to quizzes 5-10

Monday, December 31st, 2012

See if your answers to quizzes 5-10 match these:

5. Noah said it to his son who did not accept his message and thought that climbing a mountain will save him from the Great Flood. It is from verse 11:42.

6. Shu`ayb’s (Jethro’s) daughter said it to her father, suggesting to him that he hire Moses as his assistant. It’s from verse 28:26.

7. Abraham said it to God out of curiosity and fascination only. It is from verse 2:260.

8. Moses said it to God. God told him that he couldn’t possibly see him and then showed him why. It is from verse 7:143.

9. A host from Solomon’s court said it to the Queen of Sheba who was visiting him in Jerusalem. It is from verse 27:42.

10. Jesus says it to God on the Day of Judgment. It is from verse 5:117.

Answers to quizzes 1-4

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Ok, you had a full month to figure out the answers to the first Quran quizzes posted here 🙂

Compare your answers with these:

1. The fire here is the burning bush through which God spoke to Moses (PBUH). This phrase appears in 27:8.

2. This is in verse 22:4, where God mocks Satan by saying that he “guides” to the torment of the hellfire blaze. It is verse 22:4.

3. This sentence is verse 107:5. The following two verses explain that the woe is unto those who are distracted from offering the regular prayers, who show off and when called on to help they don’t.

4. This the first sentence of verse 25:77. The rest of the sentence says, “…had it not been for your supplication.” Thus, we learn that faith is not enough.

What is the penalty for accidental killing?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I assure you this did not happen. I’m asking so that I’d know what to do if something like it ever happens to me.

Suppose I was walking down the street carrying groceries and a man grabs the bag from my hand and runs up the street. I run after him but he is faster than me so I grab a rock and throw it hoping to stop him. The rock hits his leg and trips him. He falls and hits his head on the cement and dies instantly.

My question is am I accountable for his death? Would it be considered self defense or murder? Obviously it was not intentional on my part to kill him. I was only trying to make him stop or at the very least drop my groceries but things went bad. What does Islam say about this situation?

This is called in Sharia ضرب أفضى إلى موت (a beating that resulted in death), which was translated in English common law as “man slaughter.” If a judge determines in court that the death was truly accidental, there are punitive damages. But if the defendent cannot afford the punitive damages, then there is religious penance. God explains all that in the holy Quran,

“And never is it for a believer to kill a believer except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer by mistake – then the freeing of a believing slave and a compensation payment presented to the deceased’s family [is required] unless they give [up their right as] charity. But if the deceased was from a people at war with you and he was a believer -then [only] the freeing of a believing slave; and if he was from a people with whom you have a treaty – then a compensation payment presented to his family and the freeing of a believing slave. And whoever does not have [neither] – then [instead], a fast for two months consecutively, [seeking] acceptance of repentance from God. And God is ever Knowing and Wise. ” (4:92)

The Quran tells us the story of Moses and how he hit that man and accidently killed him

Great observation. This is told in verse 28:15. You will notice that nowhere in the Quran does God tell us that Moses was punished for it or was supposed to be punished for it. Moses must have done the penance mentioned in 4:92, peace be upon him.

Greetings between Muslims and non-Muslims

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Can you talk about greetings between Muslims and non-Muslims? Can Muslims initiate greetings to non-Muslims? Are they obligated to return their greetings? What do they say? What if the non-Muslim greeting was “Assalaamu Alaykum” (Peace be upon you), the traditional Islamic greeting?

Let’s start with returning a greeting from non-Muslims. The Quran makes it clear that we must return the greeting with a more beautiful one, or at least one like it,

“And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with a more beautiful one than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. Indeed, God is ever, over all things, an Accountant.” (4:86)

Notice how God ends this verse with His Attribute that emphasizes that He keeps count? Every time you fail to return a greeting, it is written down against you!

What do you say? Something more beautiful! Suppose a non-Muslim says to you, “Merry Christmas!” You can say back, “May you have a happy season!” If they say, “Assalaamu Alaykum”, you can say, “And may peace and guidance be with you!”

A beautiful person can think of many beautiful things to say.

Now, can a Muslim initiate greeting to a non-Muslim? You will read opinions out there that a Muslim shouldn’t. But that opinion does not square with the Quran, which tells us that Moses and Aaron were commanded by God to initiate greeting to Pharaoh! Read it, if you will in verse 20:47,

“So go (Moses and Aaron) to him (Pharaoh) and say, ‘Indeed, we are messengers of your Lord, so send with us the Children of Israel and do not torment them. We have come to you with a sign from your Lord. And peace is upon him who follows guidance.” (20:47)

If we can greet a sworn enemy, all the more reason we should greet friendly folks.

Finally, you may encounter a hadeeth, reported by Al-Bukhaari and narrated by `Aa’isha, may God have been pleased with her, in which she tells an event when a group of Jews came calling on the Prophet (PBUH). When they met him, they said, “Assaamu Alaykum”. A phonetic distortion which means “Death be upon you!” It sounds a lot like “Assalaamu Alaykum, except that it is missing an L. `Aa’isha recognized the curse and said to them, “And may God’s curse be upon you!” What did the Prophet (PBUH) say? He said, “Wa Alaykum” (Likewise)!! He followed God’s orders of returning the “greeting”. It was really a curse disguised as a greeting, but even then, the Prophet (PBUH) gives us the lofty role model of being magnanimous even when insulted. He said to `Aa’isha, “God loves gentleness in everything.”

What to tell a pantheist?

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

My older brother who’s 18 years old just left Islam. Now he’s a pantheist. Would you please help me to give a beautiful explanation, so he’ll think of Islam again? What should I say to him? What would YOU say to him if you were my parent? I don’t understand his philosophy very well, except that he believes in impersonal god and everything occurs in the universe has always been a mere mechanical process (not God’s will). He’s trying to convert me, my sisters, and my mother, a few days ago older sister’s starting to believe his conversion was making sense.

Sorry to hear that. I know you must be feeling terrible.

God is not a person, but He is not impersonal either! These terms apply to creatures only. He is above and beyond everything that we can imagine or conceive of. Everything in the universe did develop in a mechanical way, but it was God who created the mechanical and physical laws, right? God says in the holy Quran,

“[Pharaoh asking Moses and Aaron] saying, “Who then is your Lord, O Moses?” He said, “My Lord is He who gave everything its form and then guided [it]” (20:49-50)

The main question that no atheist has been able to answer is: who created the laws that operate everything? They say they don’t know how any law evolved and may never know. God tells us in the Quran that it is He and no one else who created all, including the laws by which all operate.

Why do these laws operate so orderly and so consistently? Has your brother ever been wounded? Did he ever reflect on how the wound heals? What tells scar tissue to form, just above new skin cells that are too ripe still to be exposed to air?! How does scar tissue know that new skin cells are ready and thus it drops off having served its purpose?! Isn’t this a sign of God, the Healer?

Atheists may think that they are intellectuals, but they really are irrational. Their motivation, IMHO, is one or more of three things: (a) Resentment of God for His Power over them, (b) resentment of God for allowing imperfections in this world, or (c) evasion of religious obligations. All three reasons are ill conceived. God’s power over us is a good thing, because we tend to abuse our powers while God never does, so He is the Balance in the universe. Imperfections in this world is the result of the exercise of the free will. Without the free will, no atheist would have been able to reject God! Finally, religious obligations are for our own benefit. They are our connection to God and the food for our souls.

Remain a good brother to your brother, and pray for him, but educate yourself and him. I suspect that the main reason he veered from Islam is that he knew little or knew wrong about Islam. Yes, many Muslims are ignorant about their religion, I’m sad to say.

Where lies the balance between the esoteric and exoteric life?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

If the esoteric is special knowledge granted to a select few, and the exoteric is general knowledge available to all, then the balance between them is the realization that they both come from God and cannot contradict His Revelation. I prefer to call esoteric knowledge esoteric understanding. I’ll explain shortly.

Seekers of spiritual wisdom throughout the ages have thought at some point or another in their quest that they finally got it; the meaning of it all. But the Quran tells us that “the Truth is from your Lord” (18:29). The truth is not granted to a select few, it is granted to those who commit to God’s teachings as He revealed them in His scriptures.

He tells us, “And those who struggle in Us – We certainly will guide them to Our paths. Verily, God is with benefactors.” (29:69). That verse is quoted a lot by Sufis, but often misinterpreted as allowing esoteric knowledge. It merely explains that deeper understanding of the same exoteric knowledge is available to anyone who tries to obtain it.

Another verse often quoted and misinterpreted in this context is, “He grants wisdom to whomever He wills, and he who is granted wisdom has been given much good.” (2:269) Who are those? They are the ones who adhere to the Quran and live by its teachings, not the ones who are on a hunger strike thinking it will lead them to enlightenment.

Why was Sage Al-Khadr privy to knowledge that Moses didn’t have, peace be upon them? Al-Khadr was not a prophet, yet God granted him special understanding, because he was eligible for it, that’s why. Recall that he kept reminding Moses that he will not bear his decisions, will lose patience and keep asking questions too early? That’s why that understanding had to be given to somebody else. Moses knew that God has wisdom in everything He does, even if that wisdom isn’t obvious to us, but He did not have the same understanding of that exoteric knowledge as Al-Khadr had. Moses could not learn it on his own.

The belief that there is some prized esoteric knowledge out there is what leads many Sufis to deviation, and to beliefs such as communion with God (Wahdat-ul-Wujood) and Dissolution in God (Al-Fanaa’), both contrary to the Quran.

The balance you’re asking about is the Quran, which God describes this way, “It surely is a decisive statement. It is not a jest.” (86:13-14)

Does everything have a life?

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I believe that everything is alive. If I were to stomp on the floor hard with the intention, on the Day of Judgment it will say that I did it. Am I off base?

No. Obviously the life of other creatures differs from our lives, like the life of plants is different from the life of fish, for instance. God tells us in the holy Quran that the sky and the earth “did not weep” for the people of Pharaoh when they drowned! (44:29)

And God tells us that rocks sometimes fall down “out of fear of God” (2:74)

In Chapter 18, the story of Moses and the sage is told. In that story, the Quran says that there was a wall that “wanted” to collapse! From this, some scholars said the wall has a will. Is this true?

And we also know the hadeeth where a palm tree trunk cried when the Prophet (PBUH) got a new pulpit. So, the tree too has feelings!

The wall wanting to collapse is a metaphor! The Arabs used metaphors liberally and frequently, and so does the Quran and the Hadeeth. The metaphor means that the wall was so unstable, it looked like it wants to fall.

Interpreting metaphors literally has been a cause for misunderstanding and even some strange beliefs.

The tree, being a plant, is alive of course. Modern research has shown that plants have feelings. I’m not surprised.

Ark of the Covenant

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

What is the Islamic perspective on the Ark of the Covenant? When I was Christian, I was taught that it contained the original tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed, but that they were smashed by Moses in anger. My Jewish friend confirms this belief.

And where is it? I heard that Solomon is the only one who knows where.

I saw a BBC documentary that asserts it’s at Axum, Ethiopia, home of King Negus. In that documentary, it was mentioned that the Jews call it Tabot, which is almost the same word the Quran uses to name it: At-Taaboot,

“Have you not considered the assembly of the Children of Israel after [the time of] Moses when they said to a prophet of theirs, “Send to us a king, and we will fight in the way of God”? He said, “Would you perhaps refrain from fighting if fighting was prescribed for you?” They said, “And why should we not fight in the cause of God when we have been driven out from our homes and from our children?” But when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. And God is Knowing of the wrongdoers.

And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, God has sent to you Saul as a king.” They said, “How can he have kingship over us while we are more worthy of kingship than him and he has not been given any measure of wealth?” He said, “Indeed, God has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. And God gives His sovereignty to whom He wills. And God is all-Encompassing [in favor] and Knowing.”

And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, a sign of his kingship is that the Taaboot will come to you in which is assurance from your Lord and a remnant of what the family of Moses and the family of Aaron had left, carried by the angels. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.” (2:246-248)

I doubt though that the prophet referred to in these verses was Solomon, peace be upon him, because Solomon was mentioned by name several times in the Quran, so why would he be unnamed here?

The verses quoted above from Chapter 2 clearly state that the Ark contains some items left by the families of Moses and Aaron, peace be upon them. It is therefore quite possible that it has the original tablets on which the ten commandments were inscribed. The Quran also tells us that Moses “threw” the tablets in anger at the relapse of faith of his followers (7:150), but it doesn’t say that the tablets were smashed as a result. So, they could be in one piece still.

BTW, the word means coffin or casket, so I’m not sure why it was translated in English as Ark.

Another interesting bit of information in the documentary was that Ethiopian Jews believe that the Queen of Sheba was from Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and that she married Solomon and that’s how the Ark ended up in Ethiopia and not in Jerusalem.

But the same documentary concluded that the Queen of Sheba was from Yemen.