"We recite to the (0 Muhammad) from the account of Musa and Fir'aun with truth for a people who believe." (28:3)
Moses is the most frequently mentioned of all the prophets spoken of in the Qur'an and the details of his life are dwelt upon to a much greater extent than those of any other prophet's life. Why was so much importance given to his history is a point to consider.
In the earlier chapters revealed during the Prophet's stay at Mecca there are only brief references to Moses and the incidents connected with him. The Prophet had to deal here mostly with the idolatrous Quraish of Mecca and, therefore, we find the principles of the faith of Islam discussed in details in these revelations.
But when he migrated to Medina he had also to deal with the people of the Book, the Jews and the Christians, living in and around Medina. As far as the principles of religion were concerned, there was very little difference between the teachings of the Qur'an and those of the original Torah and the Evangel.
But the people of the Book in general and the Jews in particular were most callous in the observance of these teachings and had tampered with the books. To make them realise their error it was necessary to call to their mind the most important features of their history and to show how far they have strayed away from the path of truth which their scriptures had laid down for them.
These were the people receiving the guidance of God ever since the time of Jacob (Israel) through several prophets bringing the guidance of God and prophesying the advent of the last messenger of God and yet these were the very people who greatly misused their privileges and were the most forward of all to reject the last Prophet in spite of a clear prophecy of Moses which says:
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall harken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth." (Deut. 18: 15-18).
It is to be noted that they are told twice that the promised prophets who shall be like Moses shall appear from among their brethren and we have already pointed out in the story of Abraham that the Arabs are the descendants of Ishmael the one of Abraham and, therefore, they are the brethren of the Israelites.
No Israelite prophet ever claimed to be the like of Moses and even Jesus, the last among the prophets of Israel did never say that he was the like of Moses. Even after the supposed crucifixion of Jesus his disciples awaited the fulfillment of that prophecy. See Acts 3: 22 wherein it is stated:
"For Moses truly said unto the fathers. A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me."
The Qur'an, in one of its earliest revelations, points out the fulfillment of this prophecy in these words:
"We have sent to you a Messenger, a bearer of witness to you, as We sent a messenger to Fir'aun." (73:15)
This claim is made plainer still in a later revelation:
"Say what think ye? If it is from Allah and you disbelieve in it, and a witness from among the children of Israel has borne witness of one like him." (46:10)
In unfolding the history of Moses and his followers, the Jews, the aim of the Qur'an is not only to reclaim the Jews to Islam but at the same time to teach the followers of Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be on him) that they should avoid all those pitfalls into which the followers of Moses had fallen and also to assure them that after being guided if they behave in the manner of the Jews, eventually their fate will be no better than that of the Jews.
With this object in view the Qur'an has quoted the irrefutable incidents of the life of Moses as evidence of the truth of the claim of the last Prophet, preparing for them a straight path to reach the goal of godliness set for them.
In this context it should be noted that some of the commentators of the Qur'an have included in their commentaries much of the folklore that was prevalent among the Jews, but as these accounts are not based on any authentic Source, they cannot be relied Upon. We have tried in this chapter to present to our readers a continuous account of the history of Moses which is widely scattered in the pages of the Qur'an.