Tafseer Taha : Ayat 30-35

Link to video on Muslimmatters

Recap:

  • in ayat 27 :- untying knot in tongue, whether we take it linguistically or historically, either Musa a.s. is asking Allah to let him express himself clearly or Musa .a.s did have a stutter and he’s asking Allah’s help in overcoming this stutter
  • a hadith was mentioned in which Prophet saw alluded to his grandson Hussayn having a stutter and when he (saw) consoled him, Prophet saw mentioned the stutter of Musa a.s.
  • it’s very important, and a sign of knowledge and wisdom to know your limitations and to be able to defer to people of expertise
  • Sheikh was on a panel with other imams and someone gave a question about eating disorder. One of Sheikh’s colleagues started talking about the subject, and Sheikh politely stopped him and said that “we are imams and no one of us is qualified to answer that question as it’s an emotional and psychological issue and it needs to be referred to a specialist in that area.”
  • we see here that Musa a.s. knew he had a limitation and he deferred it to someone else [him asking
  • One of the Quran Intensive students is a speech pathologist and she shared some things with Sheikh after the lesson :-
  • Musa a.s. started dua by saying rabbish rahli sadri (expand my chest) => remove my anxiety
  • She said that anxiety and stuttering are often closely related = see how the stuttering of Musa a.s is mentioned along with dua for removing anxiety
  • the stutterer has a vicious non stop cycle with anxiety. Everytime they open their mouths the anxiety just increases
  • When Prophet saw mentioned that Hussayn inherited the stutter from Musa a.s., he alludes to the fact that there is a genetic link to stuttering
  • She said that in speech therapy, one of the techniques they use is to relate back to celebrities or famous people who stutter in order to inspire the patient
  • so the Prophet saw was using that method with Hussayn 1400 years ago by relating it back to Musa a.s.
  • wayyassirli amri – Make easy my task for me [remove any obstacle that might prevent me from fulfilling this task]
  • wahlul uqdata min lisaani [performance of task itself => allow me to express myself clearly, to articulate the message]
  • yafqahu qawli – allow them to understand what I’m saying
  • we learn from this that Musa a.s. is taking full responsibility “he says ‘amri=my task”
  • if we connect ayat 27 and 28, that means that Musa a.s. is assuming the best on their behalf [that they’re willing to understand thus allow me to speak clearly so they may understand’
  • this reminds us of the Prophet saw on the journey of Taif and people didn’t believe and lashed out at him (saw), when he was finally able to get away from them, he didn’t turn around and say “what a wretched people, I hope you go to hell” but rather he made dua “oh Allah, I complain to You of MY weakness and I complain to You for lack of MY resources, and I complain to You that I was not respectable in people’s eyes. there is no shortcoming in Your message, kalam, name..these are probably good people, I came up short”
  • some scholars have doubts to the authenticity of this narration but there are enough classical scholars who rate this to level of hasan
  • we see what true leadership is about
  • if we understood the weight of true leadership it would break our backs
  • when you are put in place of leadership and you qualify, yes you should accept it, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of sahabah they are all very knowledgeable and reliable in matters of religion still didn’t prefer to take responsibility
  • Ibn Umar ra.. til the day he died never assumed position of responsibility
  • Ibn Masood r.a. when he went to Kufa and later leaders came later and they would lead prayers and give khutbah and students of Ibn Masood knowing who he was, they would ask him “Oh Ibn Masood why don’t you lead the prayer, you are a student of the messenger, he trusted you!”
  • there is linguistic rhetorical nuance in these ayaat:-
  • rabbish rah sadri would be a valid grammatical structure
  • so is wayassir amri
  • but that’s not what Musa a.s. said, he said, rabbish rahlee sadree
  • this is not only just for extra emphasis, but this is Musa a.s. saying “Oh Allah allow me to be a better person by removing my anxiety.”
  • he clearly alludes to himself that if there is anxiety, it’s not the fault of task, and he doesn’t blame Allah, he takes the faults himself, so he asks Allah to fix him and improve him
  • his final request was asking for some assistance from his family
  • he asks Allah for help in form of human being
  • this shows sincerity and humility with being okay with asking for help
  • this was not nepotism but rather this was Musa a.s. asking help from family because there are a few basic realities about family – more familiarity, greater trust, element of including and incorporating one’s family into the task at hand
  • it’s a very huge problem we have in Muslim community today
  • we are in general struggling practicing the deen
  • when one person in family starts to practice deen, he leaves the rest of the family in the dust
  • it will catch up with him later on because either it will sabotage that person’s progress down the road or there will be some distance created between them even emotionally that it will stunt the rest of the family’s spiritual growth and attribute religiosity to the means and cause of this person being distant from the family
  • Sheikh shares story of  a family at 18:09 -20:44
  • the book of Allah is a complete education
  • Musa a.s. here is bringing the family along with him
  • some narrations from previous scriptures (Israiliyaat), if we observe it, we can see that Harun was the older brother of Musa a.s.
  • we see Musa a.s. managing family relation here at the same time
  • there is nothing blameworthy in recommending and desiring one own’s family in this type of position if they are capable
  • Musa a.s. made a gradual request from Allah “I need some help” “from my family” “Harun”

Ayat 30

20:30
Sahih International

Aaron, my brother.

  • badal kull => a grammatical function where you present a substitution [Harun => my brother]
  • you see that gradual tone of Musa a.s.
  • it’s very humble in its tone, and you see the beauty of dialogue
  • we learn adab with Allah from Musa a.s. in this dua
  • why does he need to say Harun my  brother? of course Allah knows
  • scholars explain : it’s like taking full responsibility for him because he is your brother
  • when you recommend someone you’re responsible
  • the Prophet saw said, “The one that counsel is sought from, that person is in a position of trust”
  • the humility and responsibility of Musa a.s. is exemplary that we can learn a lot from
  • it’s permissible and even recommended to recommend family members as long as they are qualified
  • The Quran tells about the qualification of Harun
  • Shuara 13
  • 26:13
    Sahih International

    And that my breast will tighten and my tongue will not be fluent, so send for Aaron.

  • I feel anxiety and my tongue gets caught, so please make Harun a messenger
  • implying that Harun’s a lot more calm, relaxed and able to speak more clearly
  • Qasas 34
  • 28:34
    Sahih International

    And my brother Aaron is more fluent than me in tongue, so send him with me as support, verifying me. Indeed, I fear that they will deny me.”

  • Musa a.s. clearly says “My brother Harun he is much more eloquent in speech than I am, so please send him with me as a support and he will back me up because I am afraid they will call me a liar and reject me.”
  • Musa and Harun a.s. were specifically from the Levi family and Harun amongst his people had the reputation as a great scholar, rabbi and an eloquent speaker
  • this whole family blessed from the beginning
  • the sister of Musa a.s. who we’re going to read about, who followed the box in the river, her name was Maryam
  • there is narration in previous  scriptures that if ever a woman was to be made a prophet, it would have been Maryam sister of Musa a.s.
  • this is already a reputable family
  • Musa’s request here is not unfounded, it’s very legitimate and appropriate request
  • Maarij 70:33
  • 70:33
    Sahih International

    And those who are in their testimonies upright

  • usually when we hear that type of translation we think of the Islamic court
  • but we need to apply it and contextualize it => you have to stand by your recommendation
  • that’s what Musa a.s. does here
  • Musa a.s. made 3 duas but he didn’t feel the need to explain and justify the request
  • he briefly stated these things
  • the 4th and final request though, and following, he begins to justify the request

Ayat 31

20:31
Sahih International

Increase through him my strength

  • اشدُد – literally means to tie, support, brace
  • brace and support by means of Harun
  • ازر – the lower back
  • he’s literally using analogy of a back brace
  • if someone throws out his lower back, he can’t do anything at all
  • “Make Harun my back brace”
  • he’s justifying it, “Ya Allah I”m carrying a big weight and my back is throwing out so I need a back brace and Harun can be that back brace”

Ayat 32

20:32
Sahih International

And let him share my task

  • he’s not saying “Oh Allah let Harun tag along” but he’s saying “Oh Allah, grant Harun some certification [Make it official]
  • “make him a partner in my responsibility” which is nubuwwah [prophethood]
  • he’s basically saying “Make him a rasul as well ya Allah”
  • Allah talks about this in surah Maryam
  • 19:53
    Sahih International

    And We gave him out of Our mercy his brother Aaron as a prophet.

  • see the humility and generosity of Musa a.s.
  • Harun, being a righteous man of course would be more than happy to help
  • Musa a.s. is not hoarding the spot light, he’s willing to share with his brother
  • Musa a.s. is not threatened or offended by having his brother share the position with him
  • the task is more important than one’s ego

Ayat 33

20:33
Sahih International

That we may exalt You much

  • now he goes back to justifying because he knows the magnitude of what he’s asking
  • “Oh Allah, I’m asking this so that we may be able to glorify You, speak of Your perfection
  • tasbih is to speak of the perfection of Allah
  • comes from root word which means ‘to swim’
  • when a person swims …
  • سَبَحَ – specifically swimming with head above the water, or that swimming keeps you afloat in water
  • similarly making tasbih of Allah will keep you afloat in this dunya
  • كَثِيرََا – abundantly
  • look at how emphatically he’s begging, how he’s presenting his request

Ayat 34

20:34
Sahih International

And remember You much.

  • to engage in Your remembrance
  • both of us will commit ourselves to this
  • not only is he justifying the request…
  • they were talking about responsibility and weight of prophethood, how come now suddenly it’s talking about tasbih and remembrance of Allah? what does that have to do with anything?
  • one thing that has to be understood, this is part of understanding of what scholars used to refer to as ilmul 7aal [what is the command of Allah, sunnah of Prophet for this place, situation right here right now – whatever task that Allah has given yo at this moment to do, that for you is the zhikr right now]
  • so when azan and iqamah called and at that point in time, I’m reciting the Quran[even though that is zhikr of Allah], right now that doesn’t count as zhikr of Allah anymore
  • right now the zhikr of Allah is to stand up and pray
  • to fulfill the command of Allah and fulfill sunnah of Prophet saw is relevant to this time and situation, that is the zhikr of Allah
  • when Musa a.s. is saying this, he is saying that “we will complete the task that You have given us”
  • also, it can also be understood that the responsibility of leadership, a person that ends up in that position, their number one thing to recharge their batteries and be cognizant of always is to remember Allah
  • a lot of time our mentality is the opposite
  • if I’m in a position of leadership whatever that capacity may be (leading prayer, on committee, active volunteer etc) I almost feel like it gives me a license, so when salah time comes, I say “man I’ve been working hard today…”
  • yes that person has worked hard and we need to respect that
  • but that person needs to realize that if they want istiqaamah in the service of the deen they are engaged in, they have to engage in zhikr of Allah more than the common person does
  • not “Oh yeah he can do more sunnah and read more Quran, but they’re not running around doing all these things like I am”
  • Sheikh’s advice:- the more you continue to preach openly, the more your private time with Allah need to increase
  • if that doesn’t happen, that balance will tip and you will come crashing down
  • it’s very difficult, it’s easy to sit and talk about it, but to live it..may Allah help us
  • zhikr of Allah is a constant theme throughout story of Musa a.s. especially in surah Taha
  • in Ayat 14 in Surah Taha, when Allah first gave Musa the knowledge of tauheed and responsibility, Allah says, “Establish prayer for My remembrance.”
  • In the middle os Taha, when Allah will send Musa and Harun to FIrawn to do their job, Allah will remind them again, “Wa laa taniyaa fi zhikri (don’t become lazy in My remembrance)”
  • rhetorically speaking, the balaghah of the ayah, it first mentions tasbih in Ayah 33 , then ayah 34 mentions zhikr when in realty tasbih is a form of zhikr
  • tasbih – to say subhanallah
  • tahmid – to say alhamdulillah
  • tahleel – to say laa ilaaha illa Allah
  • takbeer = to say allhu akbar
  • so why tasbih mentioned first and then zhikr
  • in Arabic, the specific is mentioned first and then the general is mentioned
  • tasbih is to mention the perfection of Allah, that Allah is absolutely faultless which is what we call النَّفِي (to remove, negate any type of bad association with Allah)
  • zhikr is then to say the praise of Allah, which is إثبَات
  • when we look at the testimony of faith that we say, the shahaadah
  • laa ilaaha is النَّفِيand illa Allah is إثبَات
  • it’s saying “Oh Allah You are free of any fault, oh Allah we will continue to praise You and glorify You.”
  • this is why Allah mentions tasbih and then zhikr
  • another reason :-
  • tasbih is very very specific, when Quran speaks of it, it talks about doing it at specific times
  • at end of Taha, when Allah tells Prophet saw to engage in tasbih of Allah, He says,
  • 20:130
    Sahih International

    So be patient over what they say and exalt [ Allah ] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and during periods of the night [exalt Him] and at the ends of the day, that you may be satisfied.

  • in Ghaafir, 40:55,Allah says,
  • 40:55
    Sahih International

    So be patient, [O Muhammad]. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth. And ask forgiveness for your sin and exalt [ Allah ] with praise of your Lord in the evening and the morning.

  • in Aali Imran3:41, Allah says,
  • 3:41
    Sahih International

    He said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He Said, “Your sign is that you will not [be able to] speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning.”

  • we see to do tasbih in morning and evening
  • so tasbih is a specific form of worship at specific times, like the 5 times daily prayer for us
  • zhikr is what you constantly do throughout the day
  • so first, maintain she designated time-specific worship pf Allah and then remember to maintain a state of zhikr
  • Prophet saw used to remember Allah at all times
  • in Ayat 33 and 34, It is in plural form, so that shows you effect of righteous company [it supports and motivates you to improve yourself constantly]

Ayat 35

20:35
Sahih International

Indeed, You are of us ever Seeing.”

  • Musa a.s. presents more justification for why Allah should grant this
  • baser – one that constantly see, that nothing escapes His vision and sight
  • “Oh Allah because You are constantly watching over us”
  • “oh Allah, if I fall short, You’re watching over and I will be accountable to YOU and I am asking this acknowledging I am accountable to You and we are both accountable to You and we are asking this request from You.”
  • Allah, without any type of connector, Allah says, “Most definitely you have been granted your request oh Musa.”
  • immediately without a second’s delay
  • why does Musa a.s. specifically here made the first 3 requests and doesn’t justify or elaboration but when he asks for Harun, he goes on to justify this request
  • one of Sheikh’s teacher’s insight : the first 3 requests are great favors but the last thing (to make Harun a partner in the task) this is such a high honor and responsibility from Allah, that Musa a.s. naturally felt very ashamed, embarrassed making such a huge request that he kept on justifying it and he made himself accountable for it
  • task of calling to Allah is such a huge and noble task
  • in surah Maryam, 19:53
  • 19:53
    Sahih International

    And We gave him out of Our mercy his brother Aaron as a prophet.

  • Allah letting it be known “I’m giving it to you but what a huge favor this was”

Reflection :-

  • if we draw parallel, the Prophet saw understands that with all difficulty this comes with, it’s completely worth it
  • we as ummah need to understand and realize that to call humanity to Allah is a responsibility, honor, gift, distinction, opportunity that was granted to us by Allah being the ummah of Prophet saw
  • by virtue of being his (saw) we were given this task
  • Yusuf 12:108
  • 12:108
    Sahih International

    Say, “This is my way; I invite to Allah with insight, I and those who follow me. And exalted is Allah ; and I am not of those who associate others with Him.”

  • that’s how and why we live our lives – to invite people to Allah, to share with people the truth
  • that;s a huge gift from Allah
  • we need to understand how great a gift it is from Allah, we can see from Musa a.s. that when he asks for this for his brother, how he grovels before Allah
  • we are given that position, how are we using it?

Story of Umar Ibn Al Khattab accepting Islam

  • he set out that day to kill Prophet saw
  • on his way there he ran into (weaker narration says Saad Abi waqas) (stronger narration of Ibn Ishaq says it’ s Nuaim Ibn Abdillah)
  • “where are you going Umar, you look upset?”
  • “I’m going to settle this Muhammad business.”
  • Sahabi got defensive : “so you kill him just  because he says there is one Allah?”
  • “You sound like one of them so why don’t I take care of you first?”
  • “You go around trying to straighten everyone else, go take care of your own house first.”
  • “What are you talking about?”
  • “Your sister and your brother-in-law (Zaid ibn Said-one of the ten given good news of Jannah), they’ve accepted Islam”
  • So Umar went and hears them conversing, and knocked at their door, Zaid opens it and Umar beats him up, his sister tries to stop him and he hits her too
  • she finally says :you can do whatever you want with us, Umar, we’re not about to leave our deen
  • Umar understands implication of his actions, and calms down then sees some papers
  • “Whats’ that?”
  • “You can’t touch that, you’re dirty, go clean up first.”
  • So he cleans up and he sits and reads the surah
  • one narration says he recited the fist 8 ayat
  • another says he recited up to ayat 14
  • now we understand why Umar was a changed man after reading those ayaat
  • he turned to his sister and said “I’m ready, take me to him”
  • Khabab Ibn Al Araat came out from hiding, he was their teacher. You can understand why he was hiding, he was tortured ruthlessly, his back was burned severely
  • he said, “Congratulations oh son of Khattab, just as Prophet saw made dua ‘Oh Allah aid Islam either by conversion of Abu Jahl or by Islam of Umar Ibn Al Khattab”
  • Umar goes to Prophet saw. Hamzah who accepted Islam 3 days ago, confronts Umar “What do you want?!”
  • Prophet saw said “It’s ok, leave him alone, let him in”
  • the Islam of Umar was a victory for the Muslim
  • part of the virtue of the surah was that it changed a man like this
  • we should read this surah with the goal, ambition as to how our lives can change through understanding this surah

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