Tafseer Taha : Ayat 40-42

Link to video on Muslimmatters


  • in Ayat 36, Allah with emphasis told Musa a.s. “Your dua has been granted to you ask you ask for it.”
  • in Ayat 30, Allah emphasizes giving this to Musa a.s.(not to say that Musa a.s was doubting) saying “There should be no doubt” and this is a message to all humanity that there should never be any doubt when you ask Allah that if could be granted
  • in Ayat 38, “Remember when we had inspired your mother and told her exactly what to do.”
  • in Ayat 39, “Musa’s mother was told ‘Put him in the box and put the box in the river and river will deposit by by the shore and My enemy and his enemy will take him’…I poured on to you love from Me so that you’d be raised under My supervision and on My terms.”


Ayat 40

Sahih International

[And We favored you] when your sister went and said, ‘Shall I direct you to someone who will be responsible for him?’ So We restored you to your mother that she might be content and not grieve. And you killed someone, but We saved you from retaliation and tried you with a [severe] trial. And you remained [some] years among the people of Madyan. Then you came [here] at the decreed time, O Moses.

  • here Allah is telling us what exactly happened, still laying out the process
  • this is the 3rd time “وَ إذ’ repeated
  • the reason why it’s repeated is to create a powerful visual, to make us experience the story
  • close your eyes and try to imagine
  • this is commonly done in the Quran
  • in Yasin, Allah repeats ‘Al yawm’ again and again when speaking of the Day of Judgment => Imagine this happening right here right now in front of you
  • “Remember when your sister continued to walk”
  • Surah Qasas explains more detail about this phase of the story that it not elaborated here in Surah Taha
  • and details in Surah Taha are not mentioned in Surah Qasas
  • why is this the case? Because the Quran is not a story book, it focuses on relevant lessons in different portions and places
  • Surah Qasas :-
  • 28:7
    Sahih International

    And We inspired to the mother of Moses, “Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him [one] of the messengers.”[Qasas 28:7]

  • 28:8
    Sahih International

    And the family of Pharaoh picked him up [out of the river] so that he would become to them an enemy and a [cause of] grief. Indeed, Pharaoh and Haman and their soldiers were deliberate sinners.[Qasas 28:8]

  • it’s mentioned explicitly here that Musa a.s. will be the downfall of Firawn
  • why did Allah devise this plan? because Firawn, Haaman and his army were constantly transgressing limits of Allah
  • 28:9
    Sahih International

    And the wife of Pharaoh said, “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not. [Qasas 28:9]

  • 28:10
    Sahih International

    And the heart of Moses’ mother became empty [of all else]. She was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the believers. [Qasas 28:10]

  • فَارِغََا – an interesting expression => her heart became empty. The only thing she could think about was what happened to Musa a.s.
  • She almost disclosed it “Did anyone see my baby?! Did anyone see a box ?!”
  • 28:11
    Sahih International

    And she said to his sister, “Follow him”; so she watched him from a distance while they perceived not. [Qasas 28:11]

  • sister of Musa a.s. by name of Maryam (a very knoweldgeable woman and narrations that says that ‘if there was prophethood to be given to a woman it would have been Maryam sister of Musa a.s.”
  • she watched from a corner so she wouldn’t be seen
  • this is where we are in Surah Taha
  • 28:12
    Sahih International

    And We had prevented from him [all] wet nurses before, so she said, “Shall I direct you to a household that will be responsible for him for you while they are to him [for his upbringing] sincere?” [Qasas 28:12]

  • it’s a baby, and if he keeps crying, you will want to figure out what’s wrong and you will be concerned
  • on top of that, baby Musa a.s. is irresistible, so they went far and wide to find a solution to this problem
  • sister of Musa a.s. hung around and start to here the chitter chatter and heard that this baby that Firawn’s wife has fallen in love with is crying non stop and they’re looking for wet nurses for him
  • so she approaches them and says, (from Surah Qasas) “
  • أَهْلِ بَيْتٍ – gives impression that they are family-oriented people, a good family
  • يَكْفُلُونَهُ لَكُمْ – they’ll completely take care of this child for you, not just nursing but a full service nanny for this child
  • وَهُمْ لَهُ نَاصِحُونَ – they will be very well-intentioned towards the child
  • Look at genius of Sister of Musa a.s. :- she’s implying “we’re trying to bring the baby back home” but she presents it in such a way that is a very attractive offer for Firawn and his family, but in reality no one will gain more in this than Mother of Musa a.s. (this is a mother without a baby after all)
  • going back to this ayat 40 in Surah Taha:-
  • “So We returned you to your mother, so that she could find peace and tranquility and she would not grieve”
  • in Surah Qasas Allah says the same thing, (in 3rd person) :-
  • 28:13
    Sahih International

    So We restored him to his mother that she might be content and not grieve and that she would know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of the people do not know. [Qasas 28:13]

  • Allah returned Musa a.s. back to his mother
  • the story that is mentioned in more detail in hadith and tafaseer, it was mentioned how women were brought from far and wide to nurse Musa a.s. and he wouldn’t feed
  • finally his own mother was taken to him and he took to her
  • they were sold, not only that, but mother of Musa a.s. was also paid very handsomely for taking care of the adopted son of the king, the king not realizing that this was her own child
  • in a hadith (gist) ” A person who does business (A businessman) but at the same time they are cautioned and cautious about what Allah has commanded them to do, he not only does business and makes money but he also collects reward from Allah. that Businessman is like the mother of Musa a.s. who takes care of her own child and gets paid to do it”
  • linguistic nuance :-
  • Allah says here “فَرَجَعْنَاكَ”
  • in surah Qasas, Allah in ayat 13, He says “فَرَدَدْنَاهُ, which also means to return
  • why difference between word choice?
  • if we go back to classical Arabic lexicon, and how these words are used classically by the Arabs, they both mean to return but رَجَعَ is more concrete
  • رَجَعَ used by Arabs when they know where they’re going, coming back, etc
  • رَجَعَ more appropriate when you have everything laid out in your travel plan [hotel reservations, flight tickets, ride from airport etc]
  • رَدّ is used when you have some ambiguity about your travel plans (not completely mapped out)
  • so why does Allah use رَدّ in one place and raja3a in the other
  • in Taha, Allah uses رَجَعَ :- previously in Ayat 39, Allah had already told Mother of Musa a.s. about the process from the box, river, to returning to her, so the whole itinerary was given to her, thus the word رَجَعَ was used
  • in Qasas, Allah uses the word رَدّ :- previously in this surah, Allah told mother of Musa a.s. in Ayat 7 to nurse Musa a.s. and when she fears for him, just put him in the river and then Allah will bring him back to her. Allah didn’t flesh out the details, “You don’t have to worry about that, We’ll bring him back to you. I’ll take care of it. All you need to know if that We’ll bring him back to you.”
  • this is the coherence, structure and consistency of the Quran, where and how it uses one word in one context, it uses the word
  • here in this surah :- “So We restored you to your mother that she might be content and not grieve”
  • Allah acknowledges the love of a mother and her anxiety and unrest and Allah is making arrangements for her comfort and rest
  • now Allah continues to talk about the blessings that He has showered upon Musa a.s.
  • وَقَتَلْتَ نَفْسًا – you killed a person [but we need to talk about it with more respect*]
  • * there is a difference in tone when requesting someone older and younger
  • when we talk about Musa a.s. here, “you were involved in someone’s accidental death”
  • Allah doesn’t elaborate more here but the story is told explicitly in surah Qasas :-
  • 28:14
    Sahih International

    And when he attained his full strength and was [mentally] mature, We bestowed upon him judgement and knowledge. And thus do We reward the doers of good.[Qasas 28:14]

  • “That’s how we take care of good people”
  • 28:15
    Sahih International

    And he entered the city at a time of inattention by its people and found therein two men fighting: one from his faction and one from among his enemy. And the one from his faction called for help to him against the one from his enemy, so Moses struck him and [unintentionally] killed him. [Moses] said, “This is from the work of Satan. Indeed, he is a manifest, misleading enemy.” [Qasas 28:15]

  • Musa a.s. went downtown after hours (not too busy then) and found 2 men fighting each other, one of them was from Bani Israel and the other from the Coptic (the elite that was ruling over Bani Israel)
  • the person from Bani Israel asked Musa a.s. for help
  • فَوَكَزَهُ مُوسَىٰ فَقَضَىٰ عَلَيْهِ –
  • the man was screaming and crying for help to Musa a.s. and the man was justified because after all, the Coptic were enslaving the Bani Israel and so when Musa confronted the Coptic, the Coptic got defensive and stepped up to Musa a.s.
  • so Musa a.s. reacted with a natural reaction and pushed him off , not realizing his own strength
  • Allah had mapped out the entire plan of Musa’s a.s. experiences
  • Musa a.s. struck the man and the man died
  • this is very serious
  • قَالَ هَٰذَا مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ
  • Musa a.s. didn’t celebrate but he says “This is an act of shaytaan”
  • 28:16
    Sahih International

    He said, “My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me,” and He forgave him. Indeed, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. [ Qasas 28:16]

  • he seeks forgiveness from Allah
  • going back to Surah Taha :-
  • فَنَجَّيْنَاكَ مِنَ الْغَمِّ وَفَتَنَّاكَ فُتُونًا – We saved you from a very terrible fate, difficulty, worry, ending up in a really bad place
  • in Surah Qasas ayat 21, Allah tells us how :-
  • 28:20
    Sahih International

    And a man came from the farthest end of the city, running. He said, “O Moses, indeed the eminent ones are conferring over you [intending] to kill you, so leave [the city]; indeed, I am to you of the sincere advisors.”

  • Before that, in Ayat 18, Musa a.s. went back downtown, looking back over his shoulders, afraid
  • 28:18
    Sahih International

    And he became inside the city fearful and anticipating [exposure], when suddenly the one who sought his help the previous day cried out to him [once again]. Moses said to him, “Indeed, you are an evident, [persistent] deviator.”[Qasas 28:18]

  • the man was calling out to him again “Hey, Musa look, this guys is messing with me again!”
  • “Everybody is messing with you? You’re the problem, not everybody! You’re a terrible human being, causing all this trouble!”
  • So Musa a.s. started to walk up to him to teach him a lesson “You’re the one who caused all this trouble! Look at the trouble you put me in.”
  • 28:19
    Sahih International

    And when he wanted to strike the one who was an enemy to both of them, he said, “O Moses, do you intend to kill me as you killed someone yesterday? You only want to be a tyrant in the land and do not want to be of the amenders.”[Qasas 28:19]

  • the man started to scream “hey Musa!”
  • previously Allah said, وَدَخَلَ الْمَدِينَةَ عَلَىٰ حِينِ غَفْلَةٍ مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا
  • this time, Allah says, “فَأَصْبَحَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ”
  • this time, it was business hours in downtown, so a lot of people were there
  • so when Musa a.s. walked up to the man, he shouted, “Are you going to kill me like you killed that dude yesterday?! Peace out!”
  • he’s trying to get himself away from this situation and diverting attention to Musa a.s. and he also started to act self-righteous “You just want to push people around!”
  • so now everyone turns and sees Musa a.s. and realizes that he was the one who is involved in this scenario and the word gets out to Firawn and his chiefs
  • so they decide “Ok, yes he was raised here in the palace and my wife is attached to him but this has gone overboard”
  • it’s also known that Musa a.s. is from Bani Israel
  • “but if we let this go, a floodgate will open. We have to make him an example.”
  • so now a man comes from the city and came running to Musa a.s.
  • 28:20
    Sahih International

    And a man came from the farthest end of the city, running. He said, “O Moses, indeed the eminent ones are conferring over you [intending] to kill you, so leave [the city]; indeed, I am to you of the sincere advisors.” [Qasas 28:20]

  • “the council’s been talking about you. They’ve decided to kill you. You need to leave town! I’m looking out for you, buddy! I’m on your side!”
  • 28:21
    Sahih International

    So he left it, fearful and anticipating [apprehension]. He said, “My Lord, save me from the wrongdoing people.”[Qasas 28:21]

  • So  Musa a.s. left, looking over his shoulder, making sure he’s not being followed, and made dua for Allah to save him
  • coming back to Surah Taha : that’s what Allah is referring to in this ayah
  • فَتَنَّاكَ فُتُونًا – we trained you in many different situations to bring you up to this point, to make sure you’re ready for what you’re about to take on right
  • fitnah in classical Arabic literally refers to the process of purifying gold
  • it’s used for tests and trial and that’s very poetic because the Prophet saw said “People are like silver and gold mines, what refines them and allow them to reach their potential are the , tests, trials, difficulties that they have to go through
  • raw gold and silver have a lot of potential
  • in and of itself, it may not seem so valuable
  • if you found some raw gold, it looks like rocks with impurities in it, would you bring it to your wife and say, “Honey this is for you.” She would throw it back at you.
  • it’s heated, melted, impurities removed, it’s shaped, refined. So that process of trials also refine us

Why does Allah use Futoon and not fitnah?

  • فُتُون is a pattern in Arabic which implies something happening many times over
  • in surah Ahzab, when the Muslims in Madinah were attacked from all sides:-
  • 33:10
    Sahih International

    [Remember] when they came at you from above you and from below you, and when eyes shifted [in fear], and hearts reached the throats and you assumed about Allah [various] assumptions.

  • وَتَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّهِ الظُّنُونَا – multiple thoughts were racing through your heart and head
  • Said bin Jubayr (great tabiee, scholars, students of sahabah) asked his teacher Ibn Abbas [he was a man that Prophet saw made dua for personally at time of tahajud “Oh Allah give him a thorough understanding of the deen and give him the in depth understanding of the Quran], “What are these repeated trials that Musa a.s. was put through?”
  • Ibn Abbas replies “he was born in the year in which Firawn was having all the baby boys executed. this is a fitnah oh son of jubayr. His mother had to put him into a river (moving water). Isn’t this a trial and a test oh son of Jubayr. Firawn wanted to kill this child (that was his first thought when they found him by the shore). Isn’t this a fitnah ya son of Jubayr? A man died at his hand accidentally, he was a Coptic. That was tough. Then he had to serve/work for someone doing hard labor for 10 years. That was another test oh son of Jubayr. He’s traveling with his family, he loses the way. That’s a trial oh son of Jubayr..” and he goes on and on
  • one thing that is not talked about when talking about this story is the trauma of having someone die in front of you
  • the trauma of you having played a part in the death of a man
  • for a normal man, that is very traumatic
  • people need therapy, counseling for this, even if it’s an accident, like a car accident
  • think about what Musa a.s. had to live with
  • can you imagine someone responsible for his family getting lost in the dark
  • Allah is telling Musa a.s. here “You’re ready.”
  • Allah is not like any of His creations, and far and above that, but to give us a frame of reference, this is like how a coach would talk to his players before the super bowl
  • Allah is giving a pep talk to Musa a.s. “I’m sending you out on a huge task, but We prepared you for this moment Oh Musa, through multiple channels.”
  • one thing about tests :- the Prophet saw is being told “Yes, you’re taking on the entire world, but you;ve been prepared for this. You’re ready.”
  • the journey of the life of Prophet saw even before his prophethood is important for us to study
  • too often we study his (saw) life, that even we study the Makkah life that’s a blessing, more often than not Ghazwah badr (amazing, we should study it)
  • to see what made Battle of Badr possible we have to study the first 54 years of his (saw) life
  • when he (saw) was in cave of Hira receiving revelation you have to study the first 40 years to understand
  • that’s the reason that in the seerah class that Sheikh is doing, they’ve done about 25-26 session, and they’re still talking about the couple first revelations
  • Prophet saw not having a father, his mother dying at age of 6, grandfather dying at him age of 8 , all is for a reason
  • we also have to understand that Allah has put us through many different situations to put us here
  • there are good and bad tests [they are both equally tests]
  • Anbiyaa 35
  • 21:35
    Sahih International

    Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.

  • A’raaf 7:168
  • 7:168
    Sahih International

    And We divided them throughout the earth into nations. Of them some were righteous, and of them some were otherwise. And We tested them with good [times] and bad that perhaps they would return [to obedience].

  • in fact, some scholars say that test of the good times is harder and harder to overcome and figure out than test of bad times
  • test of bad times can be severe
  • Prophet saw says, “Poverty can lead to disbelief,” but Allah also says in Surah Saba 13
  • 34:13
    Sahih International

    They made for him what he willed of elevated chambers, statues, bowls like reservoirs, and stationary kettles. [We said], “Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.

  • When Shaytaan told Allah “You will find most of them ungrateful”
  • we have to remember that whatever situation we’re going through we have to find out way back to Allah in that situation and that each test is to prepare us for the next step in life
  • when we look back at surah Qasas, we see that Allah made arrangements for Musa a.s.
  • he arrived there and didn’t know what to do with himself, he took refuge under the shade of a tree and he saw 2 girls who were waiting to fill their buckets with water and so he went to help
  • this is a nature of a prophet (he sees people in distress and springs into action – like a superhero)
  • for someone to make something else out of this story, is wrong
  • then he made a dua “whatever You give to me, I’ll take it” (beggars can’t be choosers)
  • 28:24
    Sahih International

    So he watered [their flocks] for them; then he went back to the shade and said, “My Lord, indeed I am, for whatever good You would send down to me, in need.” [Qasas 28:24]

  • not long after, those girls went back home to their dad (narrations in tafaseer say it’s Shuaib a.s., and there is nothing wrong to take that narration)
  • if we want to keep word of Quran general that is fine but we have to understand that narrations from Prophet saw and sahabah is part of understanding the book of Allah
  • the girls told their dad that there was a man who helped them and that he’d be great to help him out at home
  • 28:26
    Sahih International

    One of the women said, “O my father, hire him. Indeed, the best one you can hire is the strong and the trustworthy.” [Qasas 28:26]

  • اسْتَأْجَرْتَ الْقَوِيُّ الْأَمِينُ – someone who is strong and trustworthy should be hired, this is a desirable employee
  • when Musa a.s. goes to the old man, the old man makes him an offer
  • 28:27
    قَالَ إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُنكِحَكَ إِحْدَى ابْنَتَيَّ هَاتَيْنِ عَلَىٰ أَن تَأْجُرَنِي ثَمَانِيَ حِجَجٍ ۖ فَإِنْ أَتْمَمْتَ عَشْرًا فَمِنْ عِندِكَ ۖ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَيْكَ ۚ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
    Sahih International

    He said, “Indeed, I wish to wed you one of these, my two daughters, on [the condition] that you serve me for eight years; but if you complete ten, it will be [as a favor] from you. And I do not wish to put you in difficulty. You will find me, if Allah wills, from among the righteous.” [Qasas 28:27]

  • there are authentic narrations that say one of students of Ibn Abbas was asked by a Jewish man “How long did Musa a.s. work for the old man, 8 or 10 years?” The student said “Allah knows best.” Then this student went to Ibn Abbas and asked him the question. Ibn Abbas says that Musa a.s. completed the contract of 10 years. The student went back to the Jewish man and told him that. “Who’d you ge the answer from? “Ibn Abbas.” “Is he more knowledgeable than you?” “Yes, definitely.” “You’re right, that man is a man of great wisdom and knowledge because that’s what our scripture tells us as well.”
  • regardless, it’s a detail on the side and tat’s why the Quran doesn’t elaborate on it
  • فَلَبِثْتَ سِنِينَ فِي أَهْلِ مَدْيَنَ [And you remained [some] years among the people of Madyan.]
  • Why does Allah mention this detail here?
  • To let him know that all arrangements were made for him, he was given an opportunity to start a new life, an opportunity for him to get over the trauma of accidentally killing the Coptic, also given a family, he became a family man, a completely different person, he was provided for emotionally, psychology
  • by taking into considerations those narrations that say that the old man was Shuaib a.s., we can say that another thing was that Musa a.s. was also mentored
  • ثُمَّ – after quite some time
  • maturing throughout all this time
  • عَلَىٰ قَدَرٍ – an expression which means ‘at the right time at the right place’
  • this is the divine decree and plan of Allah – everything has come together for this time right now
  • يَا مُوسَىٰ – time for you to go Oh Musa => Allah motivating Musa a.s. here
Ayat 41
Sahih International

And I produced you for Myself.

  • one of the most powerful ayat in the Quran
  • anyone who has the opportunity to serve the deen of Allah in even the smallest capacity, you know the fulfillment it gives you, you will understand this
  • إصطِنَاع comes from صَنَعَ
  • but is a more evolved form of that same verb
  • it means to design, customized
  • “I have customized you for Me” “You were made specifically to do this, this is what you’re meant for”
  • we’re meant to serve Allah and however Allah takes that service from us, we were meant to do that
Ayat 42
Sahih International

Go, you and your brother, with My signs and do not slacken in My remembrance.

  • in Ayat 41 and 42 there is a preposition that can be called the crux of the ayah
  • in Ayat 41 :- the لِ in لِنَفْسِي => by Me, for Me
  • in Ayat 42 :- the ب on بِآيَاتِي
  • this ب is لِلمُحَاصَبَة – you don’t just go alone, you go attached, along with, never separating yourselves from My signs, My message, these miracles that’s I’ve put in your hands, the staff, glowing hand, realization of the Oneness of Allah, all this knowledge and wisdom granted to you, hold tightly on to this
  •  تَنِيَا comes from root word that means ‘to become lax, lazy’
  • فِي ذِكْرِي – in My remembrance
  • don’t become lax and lazy in regards to My zhikr and remembering Me
  • go back to the first place where dhikr of Allah was mentioned and emphasized to Musa a.s.
  • same meaning here
  • it includes what we think about when we say zhikr of Allah (tasbih, tahmeed etc) because that is the fuel of the da3ee and worker of the deen
  • if you start to slack off in zhikr, you will keep going because you have momentum but it will catch up with you
  • anyone who has served the deen in any capacity know what this means
  • the infamous “Burn out”
  • it’s actually a bit comical because it’s very obvious why it happens
  • it doesn’t need any magical solution
  • just get back to basics, talk to Allah some more, it’s time for some Allahu Akbar, get your tilawah on etc
  • at same time, what is implied that zhikr of Allah for Musa a.s. in this situation is fulfillment of the task, so Allah is saying both at same time “Don’t slack of in doing the task and what will allow you to do this is not slowing down in making remembrance of Me in salah, dua, zhikr”

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