Tafseer Taha : Ayat 80-85

Link to video on Muslimmatters

Recap:

  • previously we talked about how Allah finally delivered Bani Israel from the clutches of Firawn and one of the greatest miracles that has ever ben manifested on this earth is carving out a dry path in the ocean
  • Musa a.s. and Bani Israel safely passed through,but Firawn and his army drowned
  • Ayat 80 onwards tell us what happens to Bani Israel after this

Ayat 80

20:80
 مِّنْ عَدُوِّكُمْ   عَلَيْكُمُ وَالسَّلْوَىٰ
Sahih International

O Children of Israel, We delivered you from your enemy, and We made an appointment with you at the right side of the mount, and We sent down to you manna and quails,

  • يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ قَدْ أَنجَيْنَاكُم = Oh Bani Israel, We rescued you
  • نَجَات = literally means rescue
  • linguistic nuance – in some places in Quran Allah says انجَينَاكُم
  • Allah uses the same verb here إنجَا
  • in another place Allah says نَجَّينَاكُم  which comes from تَنجِيَ , it comes from and has same root as نَجَات [to rescue] but from different verb family (has different pattern)
  • same basic meaning but different pattern
  • each of these patterns has their own implication
  • انجَينَاكُم refers to saving all at once, in a big instance and big display of magnificence of power
  • نَجَّينَاكُم means to step by step, slowly to rescue them, gradually release them from grip of Firawn
  • why usage of two different verb patterns? based on context
  • in context where Allah talks about eventual release and test they had to go through until they were finally rescued, Allah uses تَنجِيَ
  • when Allah uses إنجَا  like here in this ayah, Allah is saying that one huge magnificent display of power, Allah rescued them, like on grande finale
  • think about what type of rescue it was
  1. they were able to escape
  2. Firawn was drowned, not only that but his whole army is drowned
  3. they’re in a completely different land, no trauma or agenda being held against them for what they used to do, it’s like a reset button had been pressed for them
  • so it’s a complete grand rescue
  • وَوَاعَدْنَاكُمْ جَانِبَ الطُّورِ الْأَيْمَنَ = We had set an appointment with you on the right side of Mt Tur

جَانِبَ الطُّورِ الْأَيْمَنَ is understood in 2 ways:-

1. the right side is an expression in classical Arabic to compliment something as being good/blessed

  • how we know that is , Prophet saw said that “Allah loves the right hand side of the lines in prayer” (authentic narration)
  • if someone took that literally, you can imagine what would happen here at the masjid : everyone’s lined up on the right hand side and the left side of the saff would be empty => won’t make any sense
  • at same time, Prophet saw said to complete the rows
  • so how do we reconcile?يَمِين is being used as an expression in that hadith [blessed thing]
  • the right hand is blessed, what you use to eat, to do the ishaarah in salah

2. like ‘people of the right [اصحَابَ اليَمِين]

  • some narrations mufasiroon say that these people will be lined up on right side (that’s absolutely valid)

So this can be understood in both ways : either it’s literally on the right side of the mountain or Allah is praising that as a blessed place

  • then Allah says وَنَزَّلْنَا = from تَنزِيل which means to send down repeatedly, regularly, frequently => we regularly sent down ..
  • a lot of discussion as to what الْمَنَّ refers to
  • many interpretation
  • but if we try to reconcile their opinions, it boils down to something that was very sweet, like dessert
  • السَّلْوَىٰ refers to roasted quail (the closest equivalent for us)
  • it’s a delicacy
  • so Allah is sending down a form of sustenance for them regularly and took care of basic needs of a person
  • there was meat and at same time there was something sweet as well for them to enjoy and indulge in

What is the historical context of this ayah?

  • after Bani Israel passed through the ocean, on the other side, Musa a.s. dedicated his energy and made it his sole focus, the tarbiyyah (spiritual discipline) and taleem of Bani Israel now that he’s not dealing with Firawn anymore
  • in the process of that, there is a story here that comes to the surface a bit later
  • as Bani Israel was traveling through this land, they passed by a people (spoken about in Surah A’raaf) and they were worshipping an idol
  • because of them either not grasping what Musa a.s. was telling them or just due to some troublemakers among Bani Israel, they told Musa a.s. “Make for us an idol like these people have an idol to worship.”
  • Musa a.s. said “You all are people who are behaving ignorantly right now.”
  • typically, prophets are soft and gentle when speaking
  • here, he’s reprimanding them though because it’s shocking after all that they just went through to ask for that
  • he went on to say “These people you see worshipping an idol, they will be destroyed by what they are engaged in and everything that they are doing will be held against them…do you take other than Allah a Lord?! after He’s given you virtue over all of mankind?! Look at the miracles He has manifested to save you and blessings He has showered upon you!”
  • you would think that was the end of that
  • the next set of events :- (some scholar say it was a follow-up to that)
  • Allah told Musa a.s. to come to Mt Tur and bring the people with him
  • Musa a.s. was to go there and people would camp by side of the mountain (alluded to in Quran in Surah A’raaf 142)
  • 7:142
    Sahih International

    And We made an appointment with Moses for thirty nights and perfected them by [the addition of] ten; so the term of his Lord was completed as forty nights. And Moses said to his brother Aaron, “Take my place among my people, do right [by them], and do not follow the way of the corrupters.”

  • Now Allah is saying “it is time for  the next level for the education of Bani Israel. So Musa, come for i’tikaaf and the scripture will be given to you and you will deliver it back to the people and use it to further educate and further the deen of Allah.”
  • Allah is giving us a summary and then Allah will elaborate on specific aspects of that entire situation
  • Later on when Musa a.s. comes back to the people and the scripture finally delivered to them, they began to move again and Bani Israel at that time are told to enter into a city
  • this was the decision of Allah and they would be blessed in that city and Allah would give them a place to stay and sustenance everything would be provided
  • the Bani Israel were intimidated by the people  in that city
  • Musa a.s. kept insisting and they kept refusing till they became insolent and disrespectful with Musa a.s. “You and your lord can go and fight those people. We will sit right here.”
  • as a result, Allah gave punishment to them
  • one of the punishment was that they were now made to wander about in the valley of Teeh for 40 years
  • they spent 40 years going in circle in the same place
  • they started out in morning in wanting to travel and by evening they would be there still
  • some narrations say that they would travel very far and when they sleep and wake up the next morning they would find themselves at the same place
  • despite this, Allah continued to shower blessings for them, made arrangements for them
  • for these 40 years Allah provided for them
  • some narration say this sweet and roasted birds would literally be hanging from the trees like fruits and they would just have to pluck and eat them or that it would just come to them
  • however it is they were provided by Allah
  • high quality food, Allah took care of them for 40 years even though they were supposed to be punished
  • it was like being put in time out with an IPAD or given detention with a PS3
  • so Allah reminds them of these blessings

 

Ayat 81

20:81
 ۖ
Sahih International

[Saying], “Eat from the good things with which We have provided you and do not transgress [or oppress others] therein, lest My anger should descend upon you. And he upon whom My anger descends has certainly fallen.”

  • كُلُوا مِن طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ = eat from the blessings of what We have provided for all of you
  •  وَلَا تَطْغَوْا فِيهِ = don’t cross any boundaries with regards to that [don’t be ungrateful/disrespectful]
  • if you do => فَيَحِلَّ عَلَيْكُمْ غَضَبِي= My anger will descend upon you
  • حُلُول = to come down and mix up (My punishment will come down and seize and completely ravage you)
  • وَمَن يَحْلِلْ عَلَيْهِ غَضَبِي فَقَدْ هَوَىٰ = whoever My anger comes down upon and shrouds, then that person has fallen hard and fast
  •  هَوَى literally means to fall from a very high place like the sky to plunge
  • that person has been plunged into darkness

Ayat 82

20:82
 
Sahih International

But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.

  • وَإِنِّي لَغَفَّارٌ = and most definitely I am غَفَّارٌ
  • there are few different ways Allah is refered to in Quran that comes from this basic root غَفَرَ
  • غَفَرَ literally means to cover something up
  • a helmet is called مِغفَر because it covers the head
  • a huge crowd of people are called غَفِير، جَمع الغَفِير because they cover the earth
  • this is used fig in meaning of forgiveness because it’s not just forgiveness but covering of the sin in such a way that no one can see or know the sin this person has committed
  • this word is used to describe Allah in 3 different ways:-
  • غَافِر = the one who immediately forgives إسم فَاعِل)
  • غَفُور = the one who constantly forgives
  • غَفَّار = the one who excessively and abundantly forgives (no limitation to what He can forgive and how He can forgive it) => this is the one used here
  • each one needs to be appreciated in its own right
  • لَغَفَّارٌ =>  lam (ل)here is for further emphasis “= have no doubt about the fact that I am the abundantly forgiving no matter how much you messed up
  •  لِّمَن تَابَ
  • but Allah says “I forgive a particular type of person”
  • that person has to do taubah
  • a lot f times when we talk about these words we don’t really try to understand what they mean
  • we get used to a standard definition and then just roll with them
  • taubah = repentance in English
  • we don’t commonly use ‘repentance’ daily
  • we don’t really know for certain what it really means then
  • repentance means ___? Taubah
  • Taubah in ARabic means to come back to where you’re supposed to be going
  • best analogy from Sheikh’s part :- equivalent of a U  turn
  • if you’re driving down the road and you keep driving down  and you start to have a feeling yo;v gone too far and you check your phone or GPS and realize you had passed the street you’re supposed to go to, so the immediate course of action is to make a U turn, so you can get back on track
  • that’s the concept of taubah
  • when we disobey Allah, we’ve gone off track
  • the proper course of action is to get back on track
  • immediately turn around
  • beautiful thing about taubah though is that you don’t need a break or look for any type of signal where U turn is allowed, with Allah you turn around exactly where you’re at, there needs to be no hesitation
  •  وَآمَنَ = and that person has iman
  • generally this person has iman
  • more specifically he has faith that Allah WILL forgive and accept his taubah
  •  وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا = proof that this person has believed is that he backs it up with good deeds
  • this is common sense
  • actions speak louder than words
  • if I went and stood and scream “I’m a believer!!” and then people call the iqamah, and then I say ,”You know, I think I”m going to take a little nap.”
  • that’s then just lip service, the claim is  not backed up by actions
  •  ثُمَّ اهْتَدَىٰ = and then after that…
  • this person was off track, he turned around and came back to Allah and has firm faith in Allah and he backed up his claim of believing in Allah, so as consequence Allah will guide this person
  • someone who believes in Allah, Allah will guide his heart
  • Allah provides guidance and direction for that person who to move forward from here
  • A lot of times people have a lot of question “Ok I know I did something wrong, and I realize I need to correct what I”m doing, so now what do I do after that?” You do what Allah directs you to
  • shaytaan gets you to delay your taubah
  • one thing is to plan
  • part of wisdom is to have a good solid plan
  • but shaytaan makes you procrastinate
  • “ok fine, you’re going to do taubah, and praying again, but what you’re going do about this, that?”
  • so Allah tells us don’t procrastinate just take the lad, jump in both feet in that’s it
  • as a consequence, Allah will guide you from there on
  • Allah will make a way for you from here on out
  • when Allah will ay out a path for you from here, then it becomes your responsibility
  • Allah laid out the red carpet but the onus is on this human to actually walk that path
  • this is what Allah is saying here in ثُمَّ اهْتَدَىٰ
  • now Allah will tell us the specifics in life of Musa a.s.
  • in next ayah, Allah will ask Musa a.s. a question

 

Ayat 83

20:83
 يَا مُوسَىٰ
Sahih International

[ Allah ] said, “And what made you hasten from your people, O Moses?”

  • إعجَال comes from العُجلَة which  means to hasten, hurry, rush something
  • وَمَا أَعْجَلَكَ = what rushed you
  • عَن قَوْمِكَ = from your people
  • عَن is not typically used with this verb of إعجَال
  • but it is being implemented here slightly differently
  • whenever you have a preposition that doesn’t naturally go with that verb, it’s an indication that something is being omitted from the conversation
  • there is another meaning that is embedded here
  • it means “what rushed yo and caused you to leave your people, Oh Musa?”
  • from Surah A’raaf 142, Allah fixed an appointment with Musa a.s. to bring Bani Israel and camp at base of mountain for 30 days and at that point in time, Allah would grant this divine revelation to Musa a.s. to take back to Bani Israel and then they would have that direct from Allah on how to live their live and implement the religion
  • Musa a.s. prepared the people to head out towards Tuur but being tens and thousands of people, it was taking too much time
  • Musa as. anxious to meet Allah, and have to camp for 30 nights for i’tikaaf, “I might as well just get a head start.”
  • 1 person can travel a lot faster than thousands of people can
  • in next ayah….Musa a.s. says…

 

Ayat 84

20:84
 
Sahih International

He said, “They are close upon my tracks, and I hastened to You, my Lord, that You be pleased.”

  • هُمْ أُولَاءِ عَلَىٰ أَثَرِي = those people, them, they’re right behind me, they’ll get here any minute
  •  وَعَجِلْتُ إِلَيْكَ رَبِّ لِتَرْضَىٰ = and I come to you quickly my Lord, so You’ll be pleased with me
  • there are a couple of lessons here
  • first Allah is asking Musa a.s. why did he rush. Why did Allah ask him this?
  • we have to be very careful when talking of messengers.
  • We’re in no position to criticize them or find their mistakes
  • from our tenets of faith and belief, the messengers of Allah are ma3soom, Allah has protected them from falling into sin, but there are times and situation where Allah Himself pointed out that some things can be handled a bit better by the messengers
  • but that is pointed by Allah, because He is Allah
  • we don’t identify that as a mistake or sin of the messengers
  • that is also for the taleem of the ummah
  • it’s preserved in Quran to educate us
  • so Allah pointed out “You rushed and left the people behind.”
  • Musa’s a.s. intention was very noble (so that Allah would be pleased with hm)
  • lesson for us = when Allah call we should go quickly to Allah
  • that is the understanding of a messenger and prophet
  • Prophet saw taught us the same thing
  • when he was asked which action is the best, he (saw) said “to perform prayer at its time”
  • Prophet saw said “My ummah will stay on khayr as long as they preserve some things , one of that is not going quickly to prayer and not delaying it..”
  • salat is a major topic of this surah as well
  • salat continued to be emphasized
  • when Musa and Harun a.s. stated their intention before Allah that they will remember Allah abundantly, Allah later on also told them not to be lazy in His remembrance and at the end of this surah it will be mentioned again
  • we should be aware of the timings of the salah
  • in generations past, it was still a responsibility and that’s why Allah made an indication of the times of the prayer something as obvious as the sun
  • you just need to look up at the sky
  • we have many electronic devices that can be distracting but it can be a strategic tool to remind us that it’s time for prayer
  • what happens to us is that when it comes to times of prayer, we become fuqahaa all of a sudden
  • when one is reminded that it’s time for prayer, one may respond “no, brother, I know about this, the time for this prayer is from this time to this time.”
  • but we need to rush
  • So Allah is pointing out to Musa a.s. that yes, it is great that he rushed to Allah, but what is more appropriate for leadership is to come with his people, moving along with the flock
  • that was much more necessary
  • Lut a.s. in the Quran, when he’s told to take his people and leave the town before the punishment arrives, he was told to gather the believers and then told وَالتَّبِع ادبَارَهُم (literally means walk behind them)
  • it was a habit of Prophet saw to travel behind the army
  • on the day of conquest of Makkah, he was the last one to enter, making sure everyone was okay
  • Umar staying up late at night patrolling the streets, making sure everyone is okay
  • we’re taught the same lesson
  • on Musa’s a.s. part, it was for a noble intention (to please Allah)
  • on our part, it can be bad things, ill intentions, to gain glory, to be center of attention, to be in limelight
  • but leadership requires trailing behind the flock
  • this is the reason why when Prophet saw told the sahabah stories about when he was a shepherd when he was young, the sahabah said, “You were a shepherd oh Rasullullah?” He (saw) said, “Yes, I was a shepherd and all the prophets and messengers were shepherds too.”
  • Musa a.s. was also a shepherd
  • then Allah informs Musa a.s. of something very unfortunate

Ayat 85

20:85
قَالَ
Sahih International

[ Allah ] said, “But indeed, We have tried your people after you [departed], and the Samiri has led them astray.”

  • فَإِنَّا قَدْ فَتَنَّا قَوْمَكَ = We tested your people oh Musa
  • it’s not a bad thing that they’re tested
  • Allah tested their mettle to see what they were made of
  • they ended up failing
  • مِن بَعْدِكَ = after you left
  • وَأَضَلَّهُمُ السَّامِرِيُّ = but Samiri led them astray
  • what exactly is this referring to?
  • the coming ayat will explain that
  • for now,

Who is Samiri?

  • there are many interpretation as to who this Samiri was
  • some say that he was actually an Egyptian, he was not from Bani Israel but from the Coptics, the people of Firawn, he was a native to Misr
  • he was one of those who had apparently outwardly accepted Islam and joined Musa a.s. because he figured that was the best course of action from what he had seen but remained a hypocrite
  • some say he was from a Bani Israel but was a hypocrite
  • some say he was an outsider who had ended up in his travel in Egypt at that time and ended up joining with Musa a.s. because he figured that was the best course of action
  • [this is not something that has been authenticated]=> in Tafsir of Tabari (but he mentions this narration with caution) that it’s related from Ibn Abbas that Samiri was from Bani Israel and he was born in the year the sons of Bani Israel were being killed
  • his mother went out to the mountains and found a cave and placed him there and made sure he was safe
  • she would come back down to appear like she was still at home and would regularly go couple pf times a day to feed him and leave him there
  • narration goes on to say that when moments would happen when she was not able to make it and he would start to cry, Allah would send Jibril to come down and take care of him
  • his name was also said to be Musa Bin Zafar
  • a poet said, “when a man finds misfortune, people were shocked [when someone loses his way in life, the people who might have invested into this persons upbringing is are shocked “we did our best possible, how can he lose his way?!”], and people have lots of hope pinned on someone who they feel like they’ve become disillusioned…this should not shock us, that the Musa that was being looked after by Jibril turned out to be a kaafir and a disbeliever and the Musa that was looked after by Firawn turned out to be a messenger…
  • no matter how amazing this is, this narration is not authenticated though
  • the mufasiiron always ends this conversation about who was Samiri with “knowing who he was and the details is not something that concerns us”
  • it’s not one of the questions that will be asked to us in the grave or on the Day of Judgment
  • it’s great amazing but not something we should obsess over
  • we did a bit of research, talk about some of the opinions, and leave it at that
  • Ibn Kathir gave a beautiful example that getting caught up in these types of details is like reading Surah Kahf and then completely devoting your existence to figuring out what color was the dog
  • in Surah Kahf there is subtlety in the language
  • when talkig about how many there were of the people of the cave, He says, “رَجمَ بِاَلغَيب” [literally means ‘shots in the dark’ (random guesses) after stating the different opinions
  • there is no point for us to obsess over that
  • at the end of the day, Allah knows best
  • we are much better served to spend our time and effort to learn lessons from this story

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