Tafseer Taha: Ayat 48-56

Link to video on Muslimmatters


  • in Ayat 43, Allah commands both Musa and Harun a.s. to go to Firawn
  • then Allah tells them how specifically they will deliver this message especially considering the fact how difficult this is, especially with Firawn’s temperament and personality
  • so they went and talked to Firawn with the message
  • the initial address to Firawn is ayat 48

Ayat 48

Sahih International

Indeed, it has been revealed to us that the punishment will be upon whoever denies and turns away.’ ”

  • when you read Ayat 44, as powerful as the message there is,
  • now a lot of times worry if the consequence of having no backbone being a doormat? that’s not the case, but rather, Allah tells Musa and Harun a.s how they’re supposed to address the recourse
  • so if Firawn doesn’t believe, then what?
  • there is a consequence and it is stated
  • our message if both motivating and being a message that has a warning in it., it’s a balanced message
  • “We have been divinely told that the punishment is upon whoever rejects/denies” [at the end of the message, the warning is given]

Interesting observations about how that warning is given :-

1. Musa and Harun a.s. didn’t speak on their own behalf, rather they say “It has been revealed and sent down to us…”

  • you find humility in that as well, it’s not talking down to Firawn “If you don’t listen you’re going to burn …”
  • that’s truly presenting oneself as a messenger, not saying “I issue this verdict …”

2. they said, “the punishment will be upon whosoever..” not “the punishment will be upon you…”

  • you see more humility in the presentation here

3. كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ

  • another interesting observation here where the verb is left open-ended, in this case, not to indict anyone in particular, but to let the person take the message home and reflect on it themselves
  • they didn’t say “whoever rejects OUR message…”
  • that could be taken as arrogance which can incite rejection
  • “rejects whatever that person thinks this message implies…”
  • “turns away from …..”(left open-ended) rather than “turn away from us”
  • even when warning is delivered we see the tone, it has humility and love and it’s not like an ultimatum is given
  • you see this compassion in the message
  • even in the word we translate as ‘warning’ from inzhaar
  • إنذَار is to warn someone of a very real danger to them out of love and compassion for that person
  • it’s from the etiquette of dawah
  • Sheikh’s teachers were very stern about this “when speaking, use the plural, include yourself, using “We, our” not “you, your””

Ayat 49

Sahih International

[Pharaoh] said, “So who is the Lord of you two, O Moses?”

  • now Firawn responds
  • “Who are you guys representing?”
  • when Musa and Harun made the presentation, they said “messengers of your lord”
  • Firawn said, “uh uh, not my lord! I’m the lord! Who’s your lord? I have no idea what you;re talking about my lord!”
  • even in the way he speaks, he turns the address to Musa a.s. as if to imply to Harun a.s. “Why am I even talking to you? I don’t even know who you are? I know him though!”
  • so you see the conceit, arrogance that Firawn speaks with
  • he ridicules and mocks them
  • scholars have also talked about the fact that Bani Israel, when Musa a.s. was sent to Firawn, the message was to release Bani Israel
  • Bani Israel at that time(or at least a big number of them) still believed in Allah and didn’t worship the idols
  • so Firawn was aware of the fact that Bani Israel believed in a lord , but he asked the question sarcastically to Musa a.s., to mock him

Ayat 50

Sahih International

He said, “Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it].”

  • Musa a.s. responds now
  • and here we see wisdom of Musa a.a.
  • by extension, Prophet saw also is listening to this and by another extension we are also learning how to make dawah here without attacking the person back
  • Musa a.s says, “Our master, He’s the one who granted each and every single thing its existence/form/creation”
  • many times in Quran, it mentions specific creations of Allah like “Allah is the creator of heavens and earth” etc
  • that’s not what Musa a.s. says here
  • look at the depth of what Musa a.s. is presenting here
  • “each and every single thing that is in existence, its existence is given by Allah”
  • so there is no way for Firawn to poke holes in this
  • no holes in this presentation that Musa a.s. makes here

This is an issue of إعرَاب

  • اعطَى is a verb that can oftentimes have two separate objects (maf3ool)
  •  اعطَيتُ زَيدََا دِرهَمََا= I gave (to) Zayd a dirham [those in bold are the two objects]
  •  -أَعْطَىٰ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ = Allah is the One who gave [object #1]every single thing [object #2]its creations
  • some scholars say this can also be looked at the other way around “Our lord is the One who has granted His creation each and every single thing”
  • anything that is creation of Allah, which includes everything (see who it’s a foolproof statement) each and every single thing
  • each and everything that His creation has is from Allah

So which one is it?

  • it’s both at the same time and that is what makes this statement so powerful
  • now that it’s been established that everything is His creation, He has given every creation all that it has
  • this addresses one unfortunate theological issues that rose up in first few centuries of Islam
  • some deviant sects rose up and started to formulate beliefs of the nature where Allah just initiates creation [He just gives it the initial push] and once it gets going, it kind of rolls on its own and gets its own life and form
  • this is obviously wrong and goes against what Allah and Prophet saw has taught
  • Allah has created every single thing and watches over every single thing
  • that’s why grammatical insights like this into even half of an ayah can solve such a huge theoretical problem
  • everything is a consequence and command of Allah
  • what lesson was Musa a.s. taught that led him to come with this wisdom ? staff => staff, staff => snake :- everything comes back to one thing : Allah
  • ثُمَّ is for delay => after that, after each and every single thing has been granted its existence and after every creation has been given every single thing, then Allah guided
  • this is said generally
  • normally you would expect guided to whom/guided what?
  • but it’s left open-ended
  • a lot of crisis of faith and confusion people are dealing with, especially the young and intelligent people, we like to blame science, but it’s not science, it’s our own lack of knowledge and information and lack of reading of our own deen
  • Sheikh spoke to a sister who was having all these types of questions and had just finished a 4 year degree in Biology. Sheikh asked her how much Quran translation has she read, forget about tafseer or grammar. How much of life of Prophet saw has she known. Little to nothing. It’s not a shock that she’s confused.
  • it’s not to belittle that crisis, but Sheikh can understand where this is coming from. There is an imbalance in the perspective
  • You have studied 4 years of Biology but barely have knowledge of surah Fatihah and have only a loose idea of maybe what it translates to, so it’s only logical you would have confusion
  • this ayah provides a lot of proof and evidence and a huge discussion that can solve a lot of these problems

Hidayah is of 2 types:-

  1. of iman of shariah hidayah tashri3iyyah /imaniyyah = spiritual guidance
  2. more basic form => hidayah takweeniyyah = that Allah gave a creation its existence and taught it how to live, its natural behavior
  • e.g. how does a child know how to cry and feed from a mother etc
  • so many examples from insects to animals to everything we witness around us
  • Sheikh was speaking to a professor of religious studies. It all basically comes down to :coming from the scientist itself, everything reaches a point where it has no explanation
  • we’re all looking for answers to evolution theory and how to reconcile our faith with regards to  that
  • the most prominent theory even today is called intelligent Design
  • it gives a lot of credit to the actual creation for their continued change of behavior but at the end of the day scientists say beyond that there is no explanation
  • there is some intelligent being who initiated the process, this is where intentions become exposed and agendas revealed
  • vast majority of scientists are proponents of intelligent design
  • and majority of that majority would rather say that aliens from out of space initiated that creation than “god initiated that creation ” [really? you’d give more credit to aliens than God??]
  • after something comes into existence, how does it know how to behave and all the things that come with existence
  • that’s all from Allah
  • in surah a3laa 87:1-3 :
  • 87:1
    Sahih International

    Exalt the name of your Lord, the Most High,

  • 87:2
    Sahih International

    Who created and proportioned

  • 87:3
    Sahih International

    And Who destined and [then] guided

  • the Quran puts the onus back onto the human being
  • in surah Qiyaamah 75:14-15
  • 75:14
    Sahih International

    Rather, man, against himself, will be a witness,

  • 75:15
    Sahih International

    Even if he presents his excuses.

  • Human being has the ability to reflect but he just presents many excuses
  • Musa a.s. baffles Firawn with his answer
  • Firawn now realizes he is backpedaling a little bit, so he decides this is going out of hand and I have to get a little bit nasty and hit a little bit lower and incite a situation
  • knowing all the elite crowd that follows him are watching, he asks a loaded question (the kind a reporter asks an Imam)
  • if you look at the context, this next question doesn’t have anything to do with the previous one
  • but regardless, you still see the compassion in Musa a.s
  • he just speaks about Allah, he didn’t attack Firawn
  • he speaks about Allah so beautifully that there is no response or answer to this
  • but firawn feels threatened just because Firawn is who he is

Ayat 51

Sahih International

[Pharaoh] said, “Then what is the case of the former generations?”

  • بَالُ means the current condition of something
  • “so as we are standing here speaking right now, what do you have to say about our forefathers?”
  • if Musa a.s. said he came with the truth, then the forefathers are misguided?! you talking bad about my family?!
  • now all of a sudden it becomes personal, no one cares about what is talked about anymore
  • Firawn incited a riot now, he’s a really sharp guy (uses his intelligence in a bad, wrong way)
  • Musa a.s. being Musa a.s., look at his response
  • Firawn throws his question out there and sit back and goes “okay, let’s see Musa dig his own grave”
  • so everyone is now at the edge of their seats, seeing what Musa a.s. will say

Ayat 52

Sahih International

[Moses] said, “The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a record. My Lord neither errs nor forgets.”

  • عِندَ رَبِّي  – that knowledge is with my lord [I don’t know]
  • I don’t know => “it has nothing to do with me, I’m only concerned with what I have to do, to come here and deliver the message, I have nothing to do with the previous generations”
  • he doesn’t pander, but on the other hand, he doesn’t take responsibility
  • he’s not a coward but he taught us a profound lesson
  • we have no business talking about those that doesn’t concern us that we have no knowledge about
  • at same time, Musa a.s. is putting out this disclaimer “when did I ever say I have knowledge of the unseen? I just presented you knowledge of Allah for you for me. maybe you misunderstood, and think I said that, so just to make matters clear, I don’t know.”
  • فِي كِتَابٍ = it is recorded
  • this is important because they will have to answer for what they did, so maybe you have to think about what you’re doing because you may also be asked about it
  • same question asked to Prophet saw too
  • he responded by saying “that knowledge is with my Lord.” [I don’t know]
  • “they will answer to Allah just as you and I will also answer to Allah”
  • we need to understand the same thing
  • we need to stop worrying about what people in the past did and worry about the task at hand
  • everything that we are doing are also being recorded
  • so Musa a.s. dropped that bit of wisdom there [that it’s being recorded]
  • “I’m preaching to you here at the risk of my own life”
  • that recording is mention in surah kahf
  • 18:49
    Sahih International

    And the record [of deeds] will be placed [open], and you will see the criminals fearful of that within it, and they will say, “Oh, woe to us! What is this book that leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it?” And they will find what they did present [before them]. And your Lord does injustice to no one.

  • Allah will say “this will suffice for your accounting today”
  • equivalent like when a parent wold tell a child when she brings home a note from the principal, the parent says to the child “you tel me what I should do with you.”
  • they will find everything they did staring them in the face on that day
  • Allah does not do wrong to anyone in the least bit
  • when people do they do it to themselves
  • and Musa a.s. says as far as Allah recording everything ; لَّا يَضِلُّ رَبِّي – that He doesn’t lose track of recording
  • the analogy is like walking a path and to go off track
  • My lord doesn’t lose track of things
  • وَلَا يَنسَى= and He doesn’t forget
  • “you don’t need to worry about Allah but worry about what is recorded on your behalf”

Ayat 53 – 54 could be understood in 2 ways:-

  1.  it’s a continuation of Musa a.s.’s response
  2. some mufassiroon says it’s an interjection by Allah because after all, it’s being revealed to Prophet saw,
  • so after presenting this dialogue between Musa a.s. and Firawn, Allah interjects, kind of like a footnote or parenthesis
  • this is called  تَضمِينَ
  • interjection by Allah for further perspective to the Prophet saw:-
  • “you think about this” or “you can also incorporate this into your message to the people of Makkah”

Ayat 53

Sahih International

[It is He] who has made for you the earth as a bed [spread out] and inserted therein for you roadways and sent down from the sky, rain and produced thereby categories of various plants.

  • مَهْدًا literally means cradle
  • Allah has made the earth a cradle? it’s analogy, example
  • what is being pointed out that just like a child’s tarbiyyah is provided in the cradle, you live on this earth but this earth is like a cradle for you, whatever you need for sustenance and nourishment, is on this earth; food water even shelter
  • you’re being babied, taken care of, being brought up
  • وَسَلَكَ لَكُمْ فِيهَا سُبُلًا – He has given yo the ability to move around on this earth to seek your need. He’s given you freedom
  • we see progression of human being as well
  • وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً – as humans consume what is on earth, it has to be replenished => He sends down water from the sky
  • how is it restocked? فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّن نَّبَاتٍ شَتَّىٰ
  • أَزْوَاجً doesn’t necessarily mean pairs, but it means opposites, anything that contrast something else, different variations
  • شَتَّىٰ means one single thing when it has multiple types
  • there is even variation even inside of that one type
  • Allah presents 2 separate words to show the variety in creation of Allah

Ayat 54

Sahih International

Eat [therefrom] and pasture your livestock. Indeed, in that are signs for those of intelligence.

  • كُلُوا= eat, consume, utilize, take
  • وَارْعَوْا أَنْعَامَكُمْ = an even graze your animals
  • there is more than enough for everybody
  • you yourself eat and also graze your animals
  • one of subtleties, why it talks about grazing animals is because that is part of subsistence of human beings
  • they eat of the earth and you eat of them
  • لَآيَاتٍ – there are multiple signs
  •   لِّأُولِي النُّهَىٰ = for people of deep serious intelligence
  • when talking about people of understanding, Allah uses word fiqh [يَفقَهُون = they comprehend], aql [يَعقِلُون = they understand ], but when Allah speaks to people, some groups He calls الُو الألبَاب(people who actually  have ability to understand word you’re saying to them)
  • لِّأُولِي النُّهَىٰ is a deeper level
  • نُهَى comes from basic word which means to prohibit
  • they can take that lesson they learn and prevent a lot of harm from themselves in their lives
  • not only do they understand but they can take that message and live off of it
  • from Ayat 55, 56 onwards, these are definitely interjection from Allah inside of the dialogue, He’s explaining to us what happens, kind of like stepping away from the conversation
  • but ayat 53 and 54 is a point of contention
  • mufasiroon say both, so it can be either one
  • there is nothing restricting the Quran from being capable of that
  • one thing that points out that it’s interjection from Allah is when Musa a.s. was speaking to firawn, he was speaking in singular form (Your lord)
  • but now he is going plural
  • one reason :- as conversation continued, FIrawn was trying to get his people in on the conversation “What do you have to say about their forefathers, huh?”
  • so now Musa a.s. out of respect is addressing everyone
  • at same time, some scholars point out that this is a form of transition where Allah transitions from singular to plural
  • whenever this happens it’s to bring your attention that there is something noteworthy here
  • usually this happens when Allah is talking to someone else and then He interjects his own Kalam in order to teach us a lesson
  • it’s like Allah is saying “okay, what have you learned from this story so far?”

Ayat 55

Sahih International

From the earth We created you, and into it We will return you, and from it We will extract you another time.

  • now Allah tells us a profound reality
  • this is same ayah we say when burying someone as well
  • نُعِيدُ comes from إِعَادَه
  • إِعَادَه = to end up at same where you were before
  • eid also comes from this word
  • it’s like an anniversary, it comes around and repeat itself, comes back every year to mark the occasion
  • the poet say that whenever you see a janazah being carried away, understand that you will also be carried away one day like this
  • تَارَةً أُخْرَىٰ = we’ll create you back form that same earth another time around
  • that’s the cycle of life

This tells us a few different things

  • reminding human of his humble origin
  • you came out of the ground, now you stand tall, but remember where you came from
  • realize that there is an expiration on this life
  • that ground is waiting for you
  • hadith that talks about every person’s grave that calls out to them every single day “I’m waiting for you, I’m either a garden in paradise or pit of hell, that depends on you.”
  • but tha’s not the end, we’ll be taken out from there and asked about what we did
  • if we were to internalize message from this one ayah as a perspective in life, this will give you all you need in life

Ayat 56

Sahih International

And We certainly showed Pharaoh Our signs – all of them – but he denied and refused.

  • look at he generosity compassion and love of Allah [We showed him ALL of our signs, We gave him so many different perspectives!]
  • it talks about everything that was yet to come, almost like Allah is letting us know what happens at the end of everything
  • as we read this story we’ll see how many more signs Allah showed him
  • كُلَّهَا= all of them
  • we’re about to read the fate of firawn
  • it was not hate, spite from Allah
  • Allah didn’t have it out for FIrawn from Day 1
  • Allah sent him ALL the signs but FIrawn rejected them, so what happens to FIrawn from here on he brought it on himself
  • so the message to Prophet saw “You exhaust yourself and what happens to these people from now on is their own doing”
  • we are also being told by extension in both scenarios
  • if we are being called by Quran, seerah, believers, community, then remember that signs of Allah are all around us, if we refuse we have no one to blame but ourselves
  • whatever modest capacity we are able to present, we lay out all the signs of Allah, and if people refuse they are getting what they are asking
  • Prophet saw said ,”All of my ummah will enter into Jannah except for the one who refuses.” “Oh rasululah, who would refuse that?” “whoever obeys and listens ad believed in what I’m presenting to them that person has entered jannah and the one who disobeys and rejects that person has refused to enter Jannah.” [authentic narration]

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