Musa and Daughters of Shuaib

Astonishing Story Of An Exemplary Young Man

The stay of Yusuf (a.s) in Egypt and his becoming the ruler of that country became the cause for Prophet Yaqub and his household to leave Palestine for Egypt . So they came to live there. As the name of Yaqub was Israel his progeny called themselves Bani Israel. Yaqub (a.s) was the son of Prophet Ishaq (a.s) who was the second son of Ibrahim (a.s) through Sarah. Bani Israel , or the progeny of Yaqub were living here for a long time a life of happiness and prosperity. But then, they were gripped in severe trouble when one of the Pharaohs began to oppress them mercilessly. As they were much oppressed they were known as immigrants in Egypt , who had come there through Yusuf (a.s) who himself was also an immigrant. Now they had occupied key posts of administration.

The oppressor Pharaoh considered them as outsiders and hence disliked them. Another reason why the Pharaoh was dealing harshly with Bani Israel was that, like Nimrod, the Pharaoh also depended for consultations on ignorant persons who flattered him to such an extent that he began to call himself God and put pressure on all Egyptians to believe that he was god instead of the Only One God.

The courageless Egyptians too bowed before him and accepted the Pharaoh as their god on earth blindly and obeyed his orders. But among them were also the Bani Israel who were God-worshippers. They knew that they were the progeny of God’s true messengers Ibrahim, Ishaq and Yaqub. They refused to accept Pharaoh as god. Their denial to obey Pharaoh made the latter all the more oppressive towards them making their life unbearable.

The cruel hand of the ruling Pharaoh oppressed Bani Israel like anything and also did not spare his own populace. There were some tribes who dared to raise their heads but they were suppressed by force. He killed their men folk and spared the women (to mourn their murdered men). This is why the Pharaoh is known as one of the most corrupt mischief-maker rulers of the world.[1]

The Pharaoh had oppressed Bani Israel to such an extent continuously that every one of them was deprived with each and every facility of life and put to every trouble. They could not see any ray of hope to become free. In the meantime yet another calamity befell them. A court astrologer of Pharaoh informed him that a child will would be born in Bani Israel who would end the monarchy of Pharaoh and reduce him to nothing, and that child was then in the womb of his mother.

This dreadful news made the Pharaoh extremely unhappy even though he was claiming to be god who could give life to anyone he wished and to cause anyone he wished to die. He had all material means to rule over people, which had made him extremely proud. Yet this news made him very


[1] Please see Surah Qasas, Verse 3 in the Holy Quran

restless and he feared that his sovereignty was about to end soon. So he prepared a heinous plan. He decided that every child in the womb of a woman belonging to Bani Israel should be destroyed before birth and those who were already born should be killed.

Under this cruel plan, the spies of the Pharaoh kept an eye on the womenfolk of Bani Israel. There tore up the belly of every pregnant-looking lady, killing the male child and allowing the female child to live. This torture continued for quite a long time.

But the powerless man forgets that his might is nothing before the Might of the Real Possessor Almighty Allah. He despite all that is in his hands can never thwart God’s design and planning. The Most Merciful God brings to life that He wants, instantly.[1]

History bears witness that unwise communities have formed fronts against the Divine Messengers of God and tried to destroy them to prevent them from doing their missionary work. But they have always failed badly and died disgracefully. For example, monarchs like Nimrod, Pharaohs, and Haman etc who were rebellious rulers were wiped out and no one remembered them. But the voices of God’s messengers like Ibrahim, Ismail, Yusuf, Isa and Muhammad are ringing in our ears even today in every part of the world.

Despite all hindrances and objections and the huge spy network, Musa’s honorable mother did become pregnant and Musa’s conception took place in her holy womb. By the


[1] See Surah Yasin, Verse 81

power of God no one could trace any sign of her pregnancy until the time of coming in the world of the child about whom the Pharaoh was told that he would ruin his rule and end his corrupt oppression.

Musa (a.s) was born quite secretly by the might of God. But his mother became fearful that being a woman she would not be able to protect her son from the hands of merciless men appointed by Pharaoh for constant watch. But Almighty Allah revealed to her, asking her to take the child in her arms affectionately and to suckle him and if danger arises drop him in the river Nile without any anxiety as Allah would return him to her very soon and would give him a high rank of a great messenger.[1]

This hidden divine announcement calmed the anxious mother’s heart and she began to nourish her son comfortably and three months passed away in this manner.[2]

Musa’s mother observed that Pharaoh’s agents were becoming more and more oppressive and she became fearful once again. She prepared a small box and placed her dearer- than-life child in it and floated the box in the river waters as commanded by Almighty God. Simultaneously she instructed her daughter (Musa’s sister) to stroll by the bank of the river observing the sight so that the child may not be harmed. Musa’s sister then saw that some of the coastguards of the Pharaoh’s riverside palace dived into the river and fetched out that box. How were they to know that they were


[1] See Surah Qasas [2] See Majmaul Bayan

not carrying a box but were paving the way to their own destruction![1]

It should be kept in mind that Pharaoh’s wife had seen that box floating in the river and that it was she who had ordered her servants to bring that box to her. When the box was opened she saw a moon-like little child joyfully sucking its thumb.

Pharaoh’s wife, the lady named Asiya, was very much attracted with the newfound baby. So she said to Pharaoh, “This is the coolness of my eyes and yours. Do not kill him. He may prove beneficial to us later on or we may adopt him as our son.” But these people did not know what was the secret behind this entire happening.[2]

On the other hand, Musa’s sister entered Pharaoh’s palace and became a resident servant of his wife, the queen. She saw that ladies who were called to suckle Musa failed as Musa turned away his face from every one of them. Musa’s sister told the queen, “I know a very good wet nurse. If you so desire I may call her. Maybe the baby will suck at her.”[3]

At first, the royal guards suspected some plan in this but when all of them saw that the child was not turning his face to anyone of the midwives, they were obliged to bring Musa’s mother, guided by his sister, to the palace. No sooner than Musa’s mother placed her breast in the mouth of the child, Musa began to suckle. In this way Almighty Allah returned Musa to his respected mother so that she


[1] See Surah Qasas [2] See Surah Qasas, verse 9 [3] See Surah Qasas, verse 12

might be happy and not remain sorrowful, and know that God’s promise always comes true though many people are not aware of this truth.[1]

Musa (a.s) began to be nourished under affection of the Pharaoh and his wife Queen Asiya. Being his wet nurse Musa’s mother was also accorded much respect in the palace. Drinking pure milk of his mother Prophet Musa was brought up nicely and entered his youth.

When Musa (a.s) became major people could see that he was a handsome, healthy and a strong young man. His arms were strong, face radiant, forehead broad and eyes bright. His youthfulness was indeed worth observing. He was recognized as the son of King Pharaoh and Queen Asiya. He possessed every comfort and had full freedom. On the other hand his wisdom and intelligence had also become a talk of the town. But the people did not know that these were the signs of his prophethood, which was to bring a revolution one day; that it would be a revolution to free people from the bondage of Pharaoh and break the ego of the proud despot.

By and by poor, needy and oppressed people began to realize that Prophet Musa was very kind and sympathetic towards the enslaved masses. So they sought his help in times of trouble. Musa (a.s) also rushed to help them in every possible way.

One day Musa (a.s) by chance entered a town called Manaf and saw that a servant of Pharaoh was quarrelling with a man from Bani Israel. The Israeli requested Musa to help


[1] See Surah Qasas, Verse 13

him. Musa stepped forward and gave a hard fist on the face of the royal servant, which proved fatal instantly. Musa (a.s) repented for this hard hit and said to himself: This can only be called an act of the devil. He prayed to God saying: My Lord! I never intended to kill this man. I am so repentant and ashamed. Please pardon me.[1]

After some days he once again saw that Israeli quarrelling with another man of the Pharaoh. The Israeli once again called Musa (a.s) to help him. But Musa (a.s) warned the Israeli saying that he appeared to be a quarrelsome man and that sometime back he was also fighting with another man. But when he saw that the life of the Israeli was in danger he tried to scold and turn away the man of Pharaoh. But the Pharaoh’s man thought that Musa was about to attack him so he said, “O Musa! You seem intent to kill me as you had killed another man earlier. It means, you want to become oppressive and do not want to make peace.” [2]

In this way the Israeli exposed the secret of the earlier killing. Pharaoh’s men gathered intelligence of the whole affair and reported to the king who ordered Prophet Musa’s arrest.

At this critical moment, a faithful person among the people of Pharaoh (Believer of the People of Firon) tried his best to save Musa (a.s) from arrest. First of all he, very secretly sent Musa (a.s) to his town. Then he told him, “As the Pharaoh has spread a wide network of his agents everywhere in his


[1] See Surah Qasas, verses 16-17 [2] See Surah Qasas, verse 19

territory it is better you leave this place and migrate somewhere else.”[1]

Musa also thought it advisable not to take any more risk. So he left the town and moved towards Palestine . He traveled for ten days to leave the desert of Sinai behind him. Then he advanced towards Madayan after a troublesome journey. On entering the limits of Madayan, which was under the trusteeship of Prophet Shuaib (a.s), Musa (a.s) found himself a helpless foreigner. No one knew him there. But what consoled him was a feeling that now he was out of the sight of Pharaoh’s secret service agents and hoped that he would be able to live a peaceful life there – God willing. The people of Madayan were Arabs and so was Shuaib (a.s).

On the outskirts of Madayan, Musa saw some people gathered around a well all of whom wanted to water their animals. He found two women waiting their turn, as they wanted to water their sheep when the men folk dispersed.

Helping the weak has always been a part of the nature of God’s messengers and divine representatives. So Musa (a.s) went forward and asked the ladies, “Why are you standing far away? To what tribe do you belong?” The young ladies who were Shuaib’s daughters, replied, “We want to water our sheep but cannot do so before the rush is over. Our father is aged and weak and has none to help him except us.” Musa who was till then hearing with his head down now raised is head to find that the two youthful bashful ladies were figures of respectable modesty. He was astonished. He thought over the entire issue and about the dignity and honor of the two ladies. He then told them, “It


[1] See Surah Qasas. Verse 23

is not advisable for you to keep standing here in the presence of so many people. If you permit, I may take your sheep to the well and water them.” The respectable ladies did not think it proper that an alien and unknown man should help them by moving other people aside for giving water to their animals. So they did not agree with Musa’s proposal.

Prophet Musa asked again, “Is there any other well over here?” The ladies replied, “There is a well nearby which is covered with a big rock. When need arises some sandows remove the heavy rock and get water therefrom.” Prophet Musa went to that well along with the two young ladies and removed the heavy rock with his strong and powerful arms. The ladies gave water to their sheep comfortably, thanked Musa (a.s) and went home.

Musa (a.s) replaced the rock and slept under a nearby tree as he was, by now, quite tired. His feeling of loneliness grew and he prayed to God Almighty, “My Lord! I am in dire need of Your Mercy and Kindness.”

When the daughters reached home somewhat late Shuaib (a.s) asked them for the reason of the inordinate delay. They narrated what had happened and also told their father that the gentleman who helped them was resting under a tree near the well. Prophet Shuaib sent one of his daughters to summon Musa so that he could observe him closely. The daughter approached Prophet Musa in a very modest and dignified manner and said, “My father has called you so that he can give you the remuneration for watering our sheep.”

Prophet Musa was a solitary person in this area and he had no place of his own. So he took benefit of this chance and accompanied the lady. Incidentally a strong wind began to blow the dress of this beautiful girl who was trying hard to cover her body properly. Naturally Musa’s eye fell on this unusual scene and it was indeed very distressing for a messenger of God. He never liked that his eye should fall on another woman even involuntarily. So he, with a view to protect his eyes, and also in order to safeguard the dignity, respect and honor of the girl asked her, “Kindly stop for a while. Let me step forward and walk ahead of you. When there is crossroad, please throw a stone to guide me in which direction I should walk further. In this way I will reach your home in an appropriate manner – God willing.”

The girl also was, after all, a daughter of a God’s messenger and she at once knew the intention of Musa. So she got all the more impressed with his strong moral character and told herself: Indeed this gentleman, besides being righteous, also possesses very high moral qualities.

Musa entered the house of Prophet Shuaib (a.s) and saluted and after a while narrated to the great old gentleman what had happened to him since his birth until then. Shuaib said, “You may stay here fearlessly. You have distanced yourself away from the reach of the Pharaoh. God Almighty has protected you.”

Now one of the daughters told her father, “Dear father! It is better to take benefit from this gentleman’s capabilities and services as the best servant or employee is one who is honest as well as strong physically, morally and spiritually.”

In this way, Musa the honest youth who had traveled for hundreds of miles in red hot sandy land got a chance to breathe comfortably in a distant city and that too in the house of a God’s messenger!

One day Prophet Shuaib told Musa, “I intend to give you one of my daughters in marriage but on condition that you live with us for eight years and look after the sheep. If you extend this stay upto ten years it would be much better. But, I make God a witness that I am not putting any force on you. O Musa! I am among the righteous servants of Allah and therefore I can never apply any kind of force to anyone in any matter.”

Musa (a.s) agreed and married Shuaib’s daughter. Her name was Safura, the girl who was sent to summon Musa and who remembered that Musa was anxious to save his eyes from falling on her body when the wind blew strongly.

By and by Musa completed ten years in Prophet Shuaib’s service with perfect honesty and love and did his job painstakingly. He left no stone unturned in taking full care of the sheep. On completion of his ten-year service, Musa sought permission to leave for Egypt and visit his mother and younger brother, Harun. Shuaib (a.s) allowed him and Musa (a.s) moved with his wife towards Egypt . After entering the Sinai desert Musa decried a fire radiating on a hill. When he went there he saw that there was a spruce fir tree from which flames of fire leapt out but without burning the green tree! Musa was observing this phenomenon with abounding wonder when a voice reached his ears from the direction of the tree: It was a revelation from God saying: From now onwards you are a messenger of God and a guide

for His creation. Go to Egypt for guiding the Pharaoh and his misguided community.[1]

Thus a shepherd attained his goal after serving Shuaib wholeheartedly for several years.


[1] See Surah Qasas: 22-30 Commentary from MajmaulBayan of Tabarsi

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